One of the distinct features of the temples of the Angkor region are the carvings of Apsaras and Devatas. Apsaras were considered to be divine female deities of extraordinary beauty and grace whereas Devatas functioned more as guardian spirits. One can find hundreds of Apsara carvings scattered through the temples. But what is most remarkable is that these Apsara carvings were not merely stencilled copies of each other. One can find numerous differences not only between Apsara carvings in the same temple but also between different temples.
Apsara and Devata carvings were always made in full frontal view and never in profile- because of their divinity. They wear a crown (though the style of the crown differs vastly between the ages). They are shown to wear traditional Khmer Sampot skirts and some are more ornamental than others.
My imaginative mind also conjured up various Apsara story scenarios. This looked like the story of Cinderella and her two jealous step sisters.
This one looked like Cinderella and the jealous female population of the rest of the town. (LOL!)
I also noticed that way some Apsaras were carved were different. If you look at the images above- notice how even within the same temple the crowns are different. Notice also how the feet are placed- sometimes more awkward than others.
This Apsara at Bayon temple was carved deeper into the stone than the other ones I saw at Angkor Wat. Bayon was constructed later than the Angkor Wat and this probably represented a stylistic shift.
Apsaras form one of the most remarkable features of the art of the Angkor era. Long after you’ve forgotten all the other stylistic and architectural details you still tend to remember the graceful and dreamlike Apsaras.