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Apsara


An apsara, also spelled as apsaras (respective plurals apsaras and apsarases), is a type of female spirit of the clouds and waters in Hindu and Buddhist culture. They figure prominently in the sculpture, dance, literature and painting of many South Asian and Southeast Asian cultures.[1]

There are two types of apsaras; laukika (worldly), of whom thirty-four are specified, and daivika (divine), of which there are ten.[2][failed verification] Urvasi, Menaka, Rambha, Tilottama and Ghritachi are the most famous among them.[3]

Apsaras are widely known as Apsara (អប្សរា) in Khmer, and also called as Accharā in Pāli, or Bidadari (Malay, Maranao), Biraddali (Tausug, Sinama), Hapsari/Apsari or Widadari/Widyadari (Javanese), Helloi (Manipuri) and Apsorn (Thai: อัปสร). English translations of the word "Apsara" include "nymph", "fairy", "celestial nymph", and "celestial maiden".

In Indian mythology, apsaras are beautiful, supernatural female beings. They are youthful and elegant, and superb in the art of dancing. They are often wives of the Gandharvas, the court musicians of Indra. They dance to the music made by the Gandharvas, usually in the palaces of the gods, entertain and sometimes seduce gods and men. As ethereal beings who inhabit the skies, and are often depicted taking flight, or at service of a god, they may be compared to angels.

Apsaras are said to be able to change their shape at will, and rule over the fortunes of gaming and gambling.[2] Apsaras are sometimes compared to the muses of ancient Greece, with each of the 26 Apsaras at Indra's court representing a distinct aspect of the performing arts. They are associated with fertility rites. The Bhagavata Purana also states that the apsaras were born from Kashyapa and Muni.


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    Muses


    Gustave Moreau: Hesiod and the Muse (1891)—Musée d'Orsay, Paris
    In ancient Greek religion and mythology, the Muses (Ancient Greek: Μοῦσαι, Moũsai, Modern Greek: Μούσες) are the inspirational goddesses of literature, science, and the arts. They were considered the source of the knowledge embodied in the poetry, lyric songs, and myths that were related orally for centuries in ancient Greek culture.

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    The Muses Clio, Euterpe, and Thalia, by Eustache Le Sueur, c. 1652-1655
     
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