Standing Shiva (?)

Period: Angkor period

Date: 11th century

Culture: Cambodia (Angkor, Siem Reap Province)

Medium: Gilt-copper alloy, silver inlay

Dimensions: H. 51 1/2 in. (130.8 cm); W. 14 in. (35.6 cm); D. 13 1/2 in. (34.3 cm)

Classification: Sculpture

Credit Line: From the Collection of Walter H. and Leonore Annenberg, 1988

Accession Number: 1988.355


This suprisingly large gilt-bronze sculpture captures the essence and spirit of royal Cambodian sculpture and of the great civilization in which it was produced. The hand gestures and the crown (incomplete) are apparently unique, making it unlikely that this figure represents any of the known Cambodian deities. Rather, it may depict a deified ruler, as suggested by the size, quality, and medium.

To judge from the few surviving Baphuon-style male deities in bronze, two separate traditions, one in stone, one bronze, of arranging the garment (sampot) existed. The pocketlike pleats on the left thigh of virtually every stone Baphuon male deity almost never appear on bronzes, and the pendant sash ends between the thighs are absent from stone sculptures. Instead, in stone, the sash is knotted in a different manner, with its ends hanging down the right thigh.

The condition of the image, the largest complete Cambodian bronze sculpture known, is unparalleled. The fingers, the bow in the back, the pendant sash ends in front, and much of the original gilding are intact. Only the top of the crown, the outer perimeter of the ear pendants—originally probably of semiprecious material—and the inlays of the eyebrows, mustache, beard, and pupils have not survived.