As well as the abundant and universally admired
of stone sculptures, the ancient Khmer created Bronze objectss, most
of them Buddhist and Hindu divinities for the main religions or
objects used in daily life.
Jean Boisselier noted that, “The oldest records
indicate the presence of Buddhism in Funan did not date not earlier
than the Vth century.” This provides us with an earliest date
in Khmer art history - we do not find bronze Buddhist or Brahmanist
divinities that pre-date the Vth century.
As it was probably difficult to carve a small
figure with multiple arms in stone, the ancient Khmer preferred
to cast them in bronze.
The study of bronze work is complementary to the
study of stone sculptures, as we do not find some statues like the
Hevajra (Tantric Buddhist divinity) or Maitreya (Buddha of the Future)
carved in stone. The bronze pieces come in different colours dependent
on the chemical composition of materials used which include: gold,
silver, copper, zinc, mercury, pewter, iron, lead and bismuth .
In the pre-Angkorian period, there are some Buddhist
statues make from stone and bronze that manifest Indian influences
by the sway of the hips and the knees. Georges Groslier once described
them as ‘Greco-Gupta’ statues because they possess some
characteristics from both Greek and Indian art.