Subscribe Search

Search form

Nude photos draw Apsara Authority's ire

A topless woman poses for a photo at the temple of Banteay Kdei
A topless woman poses for a photo at the temple of Banteay Kdei in the Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap. WANIMAL

Nude photos draw Apsara Authority's ire

Racy photos depicting a topless Apsara dancer reclining amid Angkorian ruins have incensed the government agency responsible for Angkor Park.

Shortly after the photos hit Facebook on Saturday, the Apsara Authority launched an investigation, and yesterday released a statement condemning the images as a tasteless affront to Khmer culture.

“Angkor is a religious, sacred site for Cambodian people. This kind of behaviour is very insulting not just to our religion but also to Khmer identity,” said Kerya Chau Sun, the spokesperson for Apsara Authority.

The controversial photos bear a watermark for “WANIMAL,” which Apsara Authority officials said they believe to be a Chinese company.

An account for Wanimal on the Chinese photo-sharing site Lofter features a series of images of naked or partially clothed women in exotic backgrounds. The account administrators did not immediately return request for comment yesterday.

The portraits of the topless woman in Apsara dancer garb were likely snapped during a quiet moment at the Banteay Kdei temple, said Khieu Thy, president of the Angkor Tourist Guide Association.

“The pictures are really photos [at the location], not edited by Photoshop,” said Thy, who compared the images to pornography.

Like many Cambodian temples, Banteay Kdei contains numerous carvings and reliefs of bare-breasted women skirting between the realms of heaven and Earth. But Chau Sun at the Apsara Authority said there is “no possible comparison” between the stone antiquities and the modern-day interpretation.

“When you insult someone’s culture, it’s not art at all,” she said.

The Apsara Authority said it plans to submit a complaint after gathering more information about the pictures. Yesterday the agency was unable to identify the photographer or determine whether the half-nude woman depicted was Cambodian, however.

Officials at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts said the investigation is up to the authority, while the Ministry of Information could not be reached yesterday about whether the photos could be considered illegal.

The government has previously taken issue with similar images. In 2009, it blocked an artist’s website when photos and paintings of scantily clad Apsara dancers offended the Ministry of Women’s Affairs.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Thy Sovantha threatens new suit

    Social media celebrity and card-carrying CPP member Thy Sovantha yesterday said she will file a lawsuit against wildlife NGO head Suwanna Gauntlett alleging discrimination after the latter allegedly denied her access to an ecotourism program the group is launching today in Koh Kong province. The

  • Police raid Siem Reap party, arrest 10 foreigners over ‘pornographic’ images

    A group of 10 foreign tourists appeared in court today after being arrested for producing “pornographic” photos in Siem Reap town on Thursday, while dozens more were detained temporarily and let go after being lectured on their behaviour, according to authorities. A report posted to the

  • Hun Sen’s in-law removed from RCAF after cockfighting rings raided

    Thai Phany, the nephew-in-law of Prime Minister Hun Sen who is accused of running two large cockfighting rings, has been removed as a general in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces. Phany, formerly a one-star brigadier general, was removed by royal decree on December 19, according to

  • Government approves plan to relocate Phnom Penh’s airport

    The government has signed off on a proposal to build a new airport to serve Phnom Penh and has earmarked land in Kandal province for the $1.5 billion project. A new international airport to replace the existing Phnom Penh International Airport will be constructed on partially