- THE COLLECTION
- THE SPIRIT OF THE GALLERY
Relief of a flat-bottomed, triangular lintel of a shrine. The dancing Apsara is in a profuse arch ending in a motif of a cruciform flower. According to the customs of representation, her bare chest is adorned with many necklaces and she wears a double row of bracelets on each arm as well as anklets on each leg. The sarong clearly reveals her legs. This high relief stone was most probably part of the decoration of a niche or an antefix that adorned possibly the sides or the roof of a Khmer temple. The stone which is of a beige sandstone became very dark with the patina of time. Signs of erosion but excellent state of preservation.
The Apsaras are feminine creatures pertaining to the Buddhist religion usually represented as celestial nymphs or demi-goddesses. Always showing a beautiful Melanesian type of beauty, they have to be fine and gracious. The Sanskrit word Apsara means “women who walks on water” as they were born during the churning of the sea of milk. Emerging from the waters, they seduced men to whom they pass on immortality and men that spurn them became mad. They are the daughters of Sattwa and the wives of gandharvas, who are men-horses that sing and play music. An old custom considered caressing the statues of Apsaras as a religious duty. They are the equivalent of the Nereids of Greek mythology.