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Jonathan Tucker & Antonia Tozer

Monumental figure of Avalokitesvara
Cambodia; Khmer, Angkor Period, Bayon style

late 12th - early 13th century
sandstone
H. (INCLUDING TANG): 170 cms, 67 ins

A monumental sandstone figure of a four-armed Avalokitesvara, the Lord of Infinite Compassion; muscular and powerful, the face beatific beneath a raised chignon bearing a seated figure of Buddha Amitabha, wearing a short pleated sampot secured by a belt embellished with lotus motifs and jewelled pendants, with broad fishtail pleats at the front and back, the upper left hand holding a sacred water vessel.

These images are believed to represent the deified form of the Khmer ruler Jayavarman VII (r. 1181-1218?). During King Jayavarman VIIís reign Mahayana Buddhism became the state religion, the Khmer empire reached its greatest extent- as far as the Thai border areas, the Champa kingdom of modern-day Vietnam and parts of Laos as well- and many of its greatest monuments were erected. The temples of Banteay Kdei, Ta Prohm, Preah Khan, Banteay Chmar and the great enclosure of Angkor Thom were all built during his reign.

There is a fine example of a four-armed Avalokitesvara from Preah Khan (Angkor), of some 2.15 metres (7 feet) in height in the National Museum, Phnom Penh- the head is reproduced as fig. 526 in M. Girard-Geslan et al, Art of Southeast Asia, New York: Harry N. Abrams Inc, 1998. The head and torso of a large example were exhibited at a 1994 exhibition in New York - see nos. 19 and 20 in M. Lerner, Ancient Khmer Sculpture, Chinese Porcelain Company exhibition catalogue, New York, 1994.

PROVENANCE:
Private English collection.
Formerly in a Private Collection in Singapore from 1985.

all text, images © Jonathan Tucker and Antonia Tozer

 

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