Voluptuous nymphs of air and water in Hindu-Buddhist mythology populate the desolate temples of Angkor Wat. Sensual pleasure sent by the gods to distract the ascetic from contemplation, lest they attain power.

Angkor Wat Apsaras
Angkor Wat Apsaras

Ancient stone masons capture exquisitely the delicate curved fingers of their hands, directing the eye to the nipples or navel, as they hold the slender stem of a lotus bud. 

At Siem Reap, south of the temples, Cambodian girls entertain tourists with courtly dances, miming the apsara form.

But covered, they are rather demure versions of their temple sisters. Dainty, outwardly curled fingers express an extreme refinement. An exalted beauty, which, while inviting the eye, forbids approach.

(Angkor Wat, 2012)


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