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Angkor Wat period (1100-1175) Buddha sheltered by the naga Muchalinda 1150-1250 Place made: Cambodia
Materials & Technique: sculptures, stone
Dimensions: 80.0 h x 42.0 w x 27.0 d cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1970
Accession No: NGA 70.50
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 David Jones Art Gallery, Sydney, 1970 or before
  • which sold it to the Australian National Gallery, Canberra, 1970 for AUD 20,000

Although Hinduism was the dominant religion during the Angkor Wat period, images of the naga serpent king Muchalinda sheltering the Buddha were popular in Khmer art throughout the twelfth century. This sculpture appears to have been created in the late Angkor Wat or early Bayon period (1177–1230) when, under the leadership of King Jayavarman VII, Buddhism again came to prominence in Cambodia.

This sculpture derives from the episode in the life of Shakyamuni, the historical Buddha, when Muchalinda coiled his body beneath the meditating Buddha and fanned out his hoods to protect him from a storm. Seated beneath the canopy of serpent’s hoods, with hands in a gesture of meditation, the Buddha wears a slight smile and an expression of compassionate serenity. His hands and feet, as well as the back of the serpent, are marked with symbols of the wheel of law. Representing the endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth (samsara), the wheel alludes to the teachings of the Buddha as a path to enlightenment and release from this cycle.


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

Although Hinduism was the dominant religion during the Angkor Wat period, images of the naga serpent king Muchalinda sheltering the Buddha were popular in Khmer art throughout the twelfth century. This sculpture appears to have been created in the late Angkor Wat or early Bayon period (1177–1230) when, under the leadership of King Jayavarman VII, Buddhism again came to prominence in Cambodia.

The image alludes to the episode in the life of Shakyamuni, the historical Buddha, when Muchalinda coiled his body beneath the meditating Buddha and fanned out his hoods to protect the Buddha from a storm. Seated beneath the canopy of serpent’s hoods, with hands in a gesture of meditation, the Buddha wears a slight smile and an expression of compassionate serenity. His hands and feet, as well as the back of the serpent, are marked with symbols of the wheel of law. Representing the endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth (samsara), the wheel indicates the teachings of the Buddha as a path to enlightenment and release from the cycle.


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

Although Hinduism was the official religion of the Angkor Wat period, images of the naga king Muchalinda sheltering the Buddha were popular in Cambodia throughout the 12th century. This sculpture appears to have been created in the late Angkor Wat period or early in the Bayon period (1177–1230) when, under the leadership of King Jayavarman VII, Buddhism again came to prominence.

Muchalinda coiled his body beneath the meditating Buddha and protected him from a storm by opening his hoods to create a canopy. The Buddha’s hands and feet, as well as the back of the naga, are marked with the Wheel of Law.  Representing the endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth, the Wheel also symbolises the teachings of the Buddha as a path to enlightenment and release from the cycle.


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