Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Nude photos draw Apsara Authority's ire




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.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Kingdom one of safest to visit in Covid-19 era’

    The Ministry of Tourism on January 12 proclaimed Cambodia as one of the safest countries to visit in light of the Kingdom having been ranked number one in the world by the Senegalese Economic Prospective Bureau for its success in handling the Covid-19 pandemic. In rankings

  • Kingdom accepts Chinese vaccine, PM first to get jab

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said China would offer Cambodia an immediate donation of one million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by the Sinopharm company. In an audio message addressing the public on the night of January 15, he said Cambodia has accepted the offer and

  • Reeling in Cambodia’s real estate sector

    A new norm sets the scene but risks continue to play out in the background A cold wind sweeps through the streets of Boeung Trabek on an early January morning as buyers and traders engage in commerce under bright blue skies. From a distance, the

  • Hun Sen: Lakes filled in for national developments

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced continued operations to fill some lakes in Phnom Penh to create land for developments, though he is against the unrelated practice of damming rivers or blocking waterways. Speaking at the inauguration of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport

  • Koh Preus upgrades 70% complete

    Initial construction of a nearly $30 million tourism infrastructure project on Preah Sihanouk province’s Koh Preus Island is “about 70 per cent complete”, according to an official with the developer. Heng Thou, construction site manager of Angela Real Estate Co Ltd (ARE), told The Post that

  • Local media loses a giant, and The Post a great friend

    Cheang Sokha, a gifted and streetwise reporter who rose to the highest ranks of Cambodian media and was beloved for his sharp intelligence, world-class humour and endless generosity, died on Friday in his hometown of Phnom Penh. He was 42. His wife, Sok Sophorn, said he