Sculpture in the Age of Suryavarman II
The cult of Vishnu was particularly important in the reign of Suryavarman II (r. 1113-at least 1145), who chose the god as his patron deity. The two standing images of Vishnu are rendered in the remote, hieratic style typical of the period. The Vishnuite monument was brought to France in 1873 by Louis Delaporte, whose rendering of Angkor Wat appears in the photomural. The monument is carved with 1,020 miniature images of Vishnu, expressing his omnipresence. On the pediments at top are images of Vishnu with eight arms, with four arms, reclining on a dragon-serpent, and standing on his winged mount, the mythological Garuda.
Much of the Buddhist sculpture of the twelfth century is lavishly adorned with crowns and jewelry, reflecting the later Khmer conception of the Buddha as king, in contrast to the simplicity espoused by the Buddha himself. The most important cult statues in Buddhist temples of the twelfth century depict the Buddha seated on the coiled body of the naga (multiheaded serpent). According to legend, the historical Buddha was meditating under a tree when a torrential thunderstorm broke. Mucilinda, the naga king of the nearby lake, emerged from the tree roots and spread his cobralike hood over the Buddha to protect him. The image conveys the power of spiritual energy to pacify a dangerous creature and to transform evil into goodness.
Copyright © 2008 National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC