The Apsara Authority on Saturday threatened to take legal action against the individuals behind a series of photographs showing a woman posing topless at the Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap City, calling the images “inconsiderate and pornographic.”
The photos, which drew the ire of many Cambodian Facebook users who shared them over the weekend, show an Asian woman standing among temples in the park wearing harem pants, a headscarf and nothing else. The images were originally posted to the “Wanimal” photography blog—which features photos of nude or partially nude women, often posing in public places—in October 2013 with the caption “Khmer Lady.”
“Wtf …..,I wanna kill her from now,” commented one Facebook user on Saturday.
In a more diplomatic tone, the Apsara Authority, the government body that manages the archaeological park, also denounced the images on the same day.
“The Apsara Authority strongly condemns the half-naked body of the woman standing in front of the temples, because taking naked photos is an act that is totally against Khmer ethics and culture,” the authority says in a statement.
“The Apsara Authority…has decided to take legal measures by any means in order to punish the inconsiderate and pornographic act.”
The authority derives its name from a French acronym that spells out “APSARA,” a reference to the celestial nymphs of Hindu and Buddhist mythology. Apsaras are often depicted in paintings, carvings and sculpture as bare-breasted women; the authority features one such bare-breasted apsara image on its website.
Long Kosal, deputy director of the Apsara Authority’s communications department, said Sunday that the photos appear to have been taken at the Preah Khan and Banteay Kdei temples.
“Based on our initial research, we found that this group is based in China and is skilled in producing pornographic pictures,” he said.
Mr. Kosal said the Apsara Authority had not yet identified the photographer or model, who he insisted was not Cambodian.
Ry Anhchealy, deputy director of the provincial department of culture and fine arts, said that photographs and other depictions of shirtless females at the temples were inappropriate, regardless of the fact that many of the temples are adorned with carvings of topless women.
“That happened 1,000 years ago, so we don’t want to comment on it, but you are asking me in 2015, so this is a different matter…. It is wrong.”
(Additional reporting by Ben Woods)