Faces from Angkor Wat still around today?

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The Independent’s story about Kent Davis’ ongoing work to analyse the apsara/devata features on Angkor Wat. Having determined at least 8 facial types from the apsaras/devatas from the walls of Angkor Wat, is it possible to see if these facial features still survive among the locals at Angkor?

AngkorWat carvings, Angkor, Cambodia (3)
photo credit: ScubaBeer


The 12th-century facebook of Angkor Wat

The Independent, 06 September 2010
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Running facial recognition scans on the apsaras of Angkor Wat

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Last year, independent researcher Kent Davis made the news with his theory that Angkor temples were a monument to women and to this end was hoping to analyse and quantify the traits of every apsara/devata image (over 1,700 in all). The Phnom Penh Post recently carried an update on Davis and his work and features, quite prominently, the discussion that on this website about Davis’ work (which you can read here).

What didn’t really come through in the PPP article was the paper on the facial pattern recognition study presented at the International Conference on Pattern Recognition in Istanbul, Turkey (it was buried somewhere in the middle of the article). The Cambodian Daily has a better-written paper on the article which you can read on Davis’ site, along with a download link to the facial recognition paper. The work is still very much in a preliminary stage, but quite promising and may potentially find correlations between types of faces with ethnicities or locations within the temple complex. It will be interesting to see what kinds of patterns emerge from a deeper analysis of the quantified attributes of the apsara/devata carvings emerge.

Sleuth researches enigmatic Angkor girls
Phnom Penh Post, 20 August 2010

The many faces of Angkor Wat
The Cambodian Daily, via www.devata.org, August 2010

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Angkor exists to glorify women?

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… at least, that’s what researcher Kent Davis wants you to believe. The Phnom Penh Post features his work in surveying and quantifying all the images of women (conventionally known as Apsaras, but he calls it Devatas) to determine if there’s something more to the images. His theory is that because of the thousands of Apsara images that adorn the walls of the temples, Angkor was built to glorify women. Does it sounds like a Da-vinci-code-sacred-feminine flavour transposed onto the Southeast Asian context to you? Me too. Of course, we should just ignore the architecture, the royal inscriptions and historical accounts that suggest that buildings of Angkor were temples to Khmer gods.

Apsaras.Bas-reliefs
photo credit: Gusjer

The mysterious women of Angkor
Phnom Penh Post, 12 February 2009
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