Angkor Wat: Apsaras in the middle terrace

Apsaras carved on the middle level gallery of the Angkor Wat Temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Apsaras in the middle terrace

Apsaras in the middle terrace
The middle level of the Angkor Wat is less ornate than the lower level. However, it has the walls and pillars of the galleries carved with bas-reliefs of apsaras and devatas.

The image shows a wall carved with five apsaras. As you can see, the apsaras are standing gracefully, each with different stances. They are wearing elegant skirts and beautiful jewelry, including necklaces, armlets, bracelets, and anklets. The dangling earrings reach up to their shoulders, and they look like the flowers of the Kror Sang tree. On their head are the intricately carved three-tipped headdresses. Each apsara is holding a long stemmed flower with her right hand. The jewelry and costumes in the carvings showcase the richness of the Khmer culture and reflective of how people used to live in the Khmer era.

Inspired by the beauty and elegance of the apsara carvings in the Khmer temples, especially in the Angkor Wat, dancing apsaras make up a significant part of cultural dances (ballets) in Cambodia. They use similar types of jewelry and costumes, including the majestic headdress’, that appear in the bas-reliefs.

There is no equivalent English translation for the Sanskrit word apsara. The closest translation is celestial maiden or nymph. In Indian mythology, apsaras are youthful eternal beauties.

According to one myth, apsaras are accomplices of gandharvas (who are celestial musicians), and through their singing and dancing, they entertain the gods. In another myth, apsaras are one of the by-products of Samudra Manthana, and the devas (demigods) took with them the court of Indra, the king of the devas and heaven. For more details on the Samudra Manthana, check: Angkor Wat Bas-Reliefs

Related Images
A pillar with two apsaras in the uppermost terrace
A pillar with two apsaras in the middle terrace

Related Pages
Angkor Wat, Angkor Wat Bas-Reliefs, Angkor Thom, Bayon, Ta Prohm, Banteay Srei
Phnom Kulen, Tonlé Sap, Cambodia
Bali, Prambanan, Borobudur, Indonesia

Copyright © 2020 by Lawrence Rodrigues. All rights reserved.

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