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Baphuon period (1010-1080) Cambodia
Shiva 1010-50 Place made: Cambodia or Thailand
Materials & Technique: sculptures, bronze, silver and black glass; glass inlay, mercury amalgam gilding
Primary Insc: Inscribed around base, the Old Khmer script translates as "....Viralakshmi to the god of the temple. Those who maintain the upkeep of the god of the temple are the people of Prthivindrapura and Prthivindralaya".
Dimensions: 52.5 h x 12.0 w x 12.0 d cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1980
Accession No: NGA 80.874
Provenance:
  • The supplied chain of ownership for this object is currently being reviewed and further research is underway. The provenance information listed has been substantiated by documentation. Details may be refined and updated as research progresses.
  • with private collector, Thailand, 1973 or before
  • offered for sale by art dealer William H Wolff, New York, 1980
  • when bought by the Australian National Gallery, Canberra, 1980 for CHF 550,000

The elegant, slightly elongated appearance of this sculpture, as well as the pleated skirt cloth (sampot), is characteristic of the Baphuon style of Cambodian sculpture. The style is named after a major eleventh-century monument, the Baphuon temple. Located in the Angkor Thom complex near present-day Siem Reap, the Baphuon was created as a model of mythical Mount Meru, the centre of the Hindu cosmos. Both Buddhist and Hindu sculptures were created in this style, and Baphuon bronze casting demonstrates particularly skilled craftsmanship.

Shiva and Vishnu were very popular deities in Cambodia during the Angkor period. The lack of recognised divine attributes makes it difficult to identify this gilded sculpture with certainty, but the third eye on the forehead suggests it may be an image of Shiva. Originally the figure’s right hand may have held a trident, the principal symbolic attribute of Shiva. The pupils of the deity’s three eyes, the eyebrows and the moustache are inlaid with black glass, while silver is used for the whites of the eyes. The inscription around the base of the sculpture indicates that it was commissioned by Viralakshmi, the queen of the Khmer King Suryavarman I, who reigned during 1002–50.


Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Ron Radford (ed), Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2008

The elegant, slightly elongated appearance of this sculpture, as well as the pleated skirt cloth (sampot), is characteristic of the Baphuon style of Khmer sculpture. The style is named after a major eleventh-century monument, the Baphuon temple. Located in the Angkor Thom complex near present-day Siem Reap, the Baphuon was created as a model of mythical Mount Meru, the centre of the Hindu cosmos. Both Buddhist and Hindu sculptures were created in this style, and Baphuon bronze casting demonstrates particularly skilled craftsmanship.

The Hindu gods Shiva and Vishnu were popular deities during the Angkor period. The lack of recognised divine attributes makes it difficult to identify this gilded sculpture with certainty, although the third eye on the forehead suggests that it may be an image of Shiva. Originally the figure’s right hand may have held a trident, the principal symbolic attribute of Shiva. The pupils of the deity’s three eyes, the eyebrows and the moustache are inlaid with black glass, while silver has been used for the whites of the eyes. An inscription around the base of the sculpture indicates that it was commissioned by Viralakshmi, the queen of the Khmer King Suryavarman I, who reigned from 1002 to 1050.


Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2014
From: Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2014

The third eye on the forehead of this gilded sculpture suggests it may be an image of the Hindu god Shiva. However, the lack of other established attributes of Shiva make it difficult to identify the figure with certainty. The elegance of the sculpture and the style of its skirt cloth are characteristic of the Baphuon style. The Baphuon is a large temple-mountain in the Angkor Thom complex, near present day Siem Reap. Although built in the second half of the 11th century, its name applies to a style extending from 1010 to 1080, a time in which both Buddhist and Hindu deities were popular. The inscription around the base of this sculpture indicates that it was commissioned by Queen Viralakshmi, consort of the Khmer King Suryavarman I (reigned 1002–50).


Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2011
From: Asian gallery extended display label