Angkor Wat


 Self-Esteem: "There is no one else exactly like us. Everything is authentically our because we alone choose it- The thing we touch, feel, look, and do- –We create it and live with it. We are Cambodian!"


This ballet was performed at offering ceremonies and palace celebrations in the Angkorian era. The Apsaras, half-women half-goddesses, are heavenly dancers. Their circular moments and poised motions, the litheness, symbolize their hovering between the cosmos and Earth.
 

This rural entertainment dance is a lesson of love and courtesy. It depicts, while exaggerating them, boys' and girls' attitudes to love courtship. The dance shows a tenacious and mischievous boy courting a shy earnest young girl.


A metaphor for the victory of good and evil. Armed with a crystal ball casting rays of lighting, goddess of waters. Moni Mekhala triumphs over the daemon Ream Eysaur, whose axe creates thunder. The two characters illustrate the victory of the beneficial rains over the dry and stormy season.


This popular dance from south-eastern Cambodia is performed at wedding ceremonies. Highly rhythmical and punctuated with shouts and the rapping of coconuts, it expresses joy in the life and harmony amongst Cambodians.


In this extract from the Khmer Ramayana, princess Neang Seda is held prisoner by the daemon Reap. Her husband prince Preah Ream goes looking for her, escorted by his brother Preah Lak and Hanuman, chef of the white monkeys. A battle follows between Hanuman's troops and those of the fearsome Reap.


The Reamker is the Khmer version of the Ramayana, a Sanskrit epic from ancient India. The tale is depicted on Angkor Wat bas-reliefts. The epic tells the life of Preah Ream, his exile from the throne, the abduction of his wife Neang Seda by Reap, the ensuing war and his reconquest of the throne.


Preah Ream is the seventh incarnation of Vishu, from whome he inherited perfection, might and kindness. He is destined to kil the daemon Reap. Ousted from his father's throne that should have been his by right, Preah Ream exiled himself into the wilderness with Neang Seda and Preah Lak.


Preah Lak, younger stepbrother of Preah Ream, is the incarnation of snake Naga on which sleeps the protective god Vishu. His obedience and loyalty to his brother Preah Ream are exemplary. He follows him in all his achievements, and in particular in the war against the daemon Reap.


Reap, ten-headed king of giants from the kingdom of Lanka, is a daemon, servant of destructive god Shiva. His sister Surpanakhar tried to seduce Preah Ream. Preah Lak punished her by shaving her head. In revenge, Surpanakhar fueled Reap's hatred for Preah Ream by making him fall in love with Neang Seda.
 


Neang Seda, daughter of king Ayodhya and mromised to the one who could bend Shiva's bow, thus became Preah Ream's wife. Her beauty arouses Reap's lust, who abducts her to his kongdom of Lanka. Freed by Preah Ream, she will accede to the throne of Ayodhya with her husband and give birth to twins.
 

 

Hanuman, while monkey and son of the god of the wind whose nimbleness and speed he inherited, became general of the monkeys' army. Said to be immortal, he is a brave, strong and intelligent vassal to Preah Ream. Together they fight Reap, kill him and deliver Neang Seda.

 
Khmer Dancing: King Javavarman II, educated in Java, is given credit for the origins of Khmer choreography. In the 12 century, Indra descended on Earth and presented Javavarman II with the kingdom of Cambodia, the attributes of kingship and the mythical Apsaras, who revealed choreography to Khmer people.
 

 

 

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