Thommanon Devatas near Victory Gate
Studying occurences of the pleated sampot and the draped, flower-patterned one distinctive of Angkor Wat sculptures, Kent Davis suggests that this relatively small temple, probably built by the Hindu King Suryavarman II, was dedicated to both "contemporary" and more ancient goddesses.
This photo essay is also an invitation to further studies on mudras, hand and finger gestures part of the Hindu and Buddhist symbolic and ritual (in yoga practice, mudras involve many other parts of the body). Indian scriptures list 24 types of asamyuta ("separated", with one hand) and 13 samyuta (with joined hands) mudras.
Like so many sculptures at Angkor, the goddesses of Thommanon hold flower stems with the ring and middle fingers pressed against the thumb, while the index and small fingers are raised. This hand gesture, which Kent Davis calls "devata mudra", is reminiscent of the hamsapaksha ("swan wing") mudra in Indian classical dance.
More about Thommanon Devatas collection here.
Thommanon (ប្រាសាទធម្មនន្ទ) is one of a pair of Hindu temples built during the reign of Suryavarman II (1113–1150) east of Victory Gate (Angkor Thom) and north of Chau Say Tevoda. The temple is dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu, yet female deities are omnipresent in the sculpted and carved artwork.
The single-towered (prasat) temple is accessed from the east via a gopura, followed by a mandapa, or antechamber, before reaching the central sanctuary.
All photos in this collection can be republished online without alteration and with the appropriate credit: © Copyright 2019 Kent Davis - DatAsia.us. Licensed for public use under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0| High-resolution photos can be ordered. Inquiries here.
About the Author
Kent Davis is a publisher, editor, author, translator (English, Thai, French), independent researcher and literary archaeologist.
Since founding DatAsia Press with his wife Sophaphan in 2005, they have worked publishing a series of reference books relating the history, art and culture of Southeast Asia, from ancient times to the mid-20th century. DatAsia editions include important academic analysis, expanded restorations of rare accounts that have gone out of print, and English translations of French colonial literature.
In 2008, Davis began working with George Groslier’s daughter Nicole, reviving her father’s works and memories of his contributions to Cambodia. DatAsia Press now offers modern English and French editions of two Groslier novels, two travelogues, and his original 1912 study of Cambodian dance. (See his recent interview with Khmer Times on that topic here.)
During the last decade, Kent Davis has focused on documenting the devata (goddess) and apsara images at Angkor Wat to determine the historical roles of Khmer women. Many of his photosets are now available on AngkorDatabase with additional articles at Devata.org.
In 2007, he and his wife funded the construction of the Srei Devata Middle School in Baray, Kompong Thom, Cambodia, through American Assistance for Cambodia.