Sunday, October 05, 2008

Apsarases in Art & Literature

09/10/08 - 10/31/08

From the Rg Veda in India, ca. 1200-900 B.C.E. ~ to a 12th century Cambodian king's "Mount Meru" on earth ~ to Japan's 1993 "flyby" lunar orbiter "Hiten/Hagoromo" ~ to the 2008 Olympics opening ceremony "fei tian" dance in China, apsarases have held an enduring place in the imaginations of storytellers and artists all across Asia.

The current Asia Collection exhibit features photographs of stone-carved apsarases at three temples in Cambodia (Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm, and Banteay Srei) by Rohayati Paseng, Hamilton Library's Southeast Asia librarian, and includes displays of artistic, literary, and research sources.

Apsarases (from Sanskrit "moving in/on water") are flying, immortal, female celestial beings from Indra's heaven ('Svarga'), associated with clouds and mists; with waters, oceans, and skies; and with dance and music. Folklore motifs bear some resemblance to Western swan-maidens.

The origin of apsarases is linked to the myth of the "churning of the milky ocean." Historical legends link them genealogically to numerous sages and rulers, including Bharata of India and the kings of Angkor.

Apsarases in Art and Literature
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