Type of female spirit of the clouds and waters in Hindu and Buddhist culture / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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An apsaras or apsara (Sanskrit: अप्सरा, romanized: apsaras or apsarā, Pali: अक्चरा, romanized: accharā) is a member of a class of celestial beings in Hindu and Buddhist culture. They are originally a type of female spirit of the clouds and waters, who later plays the role of a "nymph" or "fairy". They figure prominently in the sculpture, dance, literature and painting of many Indian and Southeast Asian cultures.[1]

A 12th-century sandstone statue of an apsara from Madhya Pradesh, India. The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The apsaras are described to be beautiful, youthful and elegant, and are said to be able to change their shape at will. There are two types of apsaras—laukika (worldly) and daivika (divine). They are superb in the art of dancing, and often wives of the gandharvas, the court musicians of the king of the gods, Indra. The apsaras reside in the palaces of the gods and entertain them by dancing to the music made by the Gandharvas. The 26 apsaras of Indra's court are each said to symbolise a different facet of the performing arts, drawing comparisons to the Muses of ancient Greece. They are also renowned for seducing sages in order to prevent them from attaining divine powers. Urvashi, Menaka, Rambha, Tilottama and Ghritachi are the most famous among the apsaras.[2][3]