Stone; H. 53 in. (134.62 cm)
Fletcher Fund, 1936 (36.96.3)
Khmer court styles were highly conservative, particularly in the three-dimensional sculpture of the Angkor period, from the ninth to the thirteenth century. Most were hieratic, iconic, motionless, with both feet uniformly planted on their pedestal. Only the different hand positions broke up the strict symmetry of the images, and surface decoration was minimal.
This highly refined image of a four-armed Brahma displays all the ingredients found in the art of the early tenth century. The sampot, in the style of the Bakheng temple, shows the pleated "double-anchor" or "fishtail" pendants in the front, with the outer one hanging over and lower than the inner one. The unusual silhouette of the torso ends abruptly at the very full hips, where it is encased in a garment of unexpected thickness. The transition from bare flesh to the rich linear patterning of the garment is abrupt, providing a visual jolt common to most Khmer sculpture.