Material: Pink Sandstone
Dimensions: H: 82 cm L: 186 cm
Date: 3rd quarter of the Xth century
Provenance: Sralao Temple (central sanctuary) (Siem Reap)
Collection: National Museum of Cambodia, Phnom Penh
C.346 C.30.32 Ka.1819

Generally in Khmer architecture, the lintel is a placed rectangular piece of stone supported by columns and above the doorway of the temple. There are two types of lintels: the floral lintel and one that depicts a scene. The lintel is also an element for dating a temple - even the pediments and columns can be used for this purpose.

This lintel is a masterpiece dated to the Banteay Srei style. The elegance and refinement of ornamentation highlight sculptors’ techniques at the apogee of Khmer art. The upper frieze is decorated with dancing figures in the undulating arc of the pediment. They wear the ‘sampot can kbin’, mitre (mukuta) and pose using the same gesture. The base of this frieze is decorated with a row of stylized lotus motifs, which are typically Khmer. Above this, a row of floral motifs called ‘Lum ang chhouk’ or, ‘row of double lotus petals and stamens of the lotus’.

The central motif represents Visnu mounted on Garuda.

This motif reveals a certain realism in Khmer art by the movement of Garuda’s wings. By holding the right foot of Visnu he steadies and supports him; Visnu has four arms with four attributes. The deity wears the ‘sampot can kbin’ with the same ornaments as his mount.

This lintel has two symmetrical parts through a vertical axis that reveals one Khmer theory for decorative art.

The foliage branch of this lintel is composed of two symmetrical naga bodies. Each body is shaped like an inverse ‘U’ and decorated with small heads of a three headed naga. Additionally, each extremity of the branch has a Garuda carrying in his mouth a large three- headed naga head (facing outward from the central motif) that transforms into a large leaf very similar to the others in the decoration above the branch (the naga’s body). The tendrils make up the pseudo-tympanum.

“The entire composition has a rhythm and lyricism that typify Banteay Srei carving, a perfection that has survived almost intact because of the high quality of the sandstone medium.”


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