Material: Sandstone
Dimensions: H: 193 cm
Date: VIth century
Provenance: Tuol Dai Buon, Prey Veng province
Collection: National Museum of Cambodia,
Phnom Penh
B.343 B.30.15 Ka.1597

This image is dated to the ‘Nokor Phnom’ period (Ist-VIIIth centuries). The ancient name of Cambodia was ‘Nokor Phnom’ which means ‘mountainous country’. The Chinese transformed the word ‘phnom’ into the appellation ‘Funan’. The Venerable Lang Khat wrote: “The Kingdom of Nokor Phnom is situated on the sea. It is a large delta that stretches to the east of Lin-yi or Champa (land of the Chams, today in Vietnam) and the Indian Ocean and the Kingdom of Kin-lin (Gold Frontier) to the west.”

Various kings reigned over Nokor Phnom and the capital was moved a number of times. The last capital of this kingdom was situated at Angkor Borei in today's province of Takeo.

At the beginning of the VIIth century, Nokor Phnom was conquered by one of its vassal states, the Kingdom of Chenla. Later, this country was divided into two parts, Chenla of the Earth (to the north) and Chenla of the Water (to the south).

Funan art is classified as the ‘Phnom Da’ style (540-600). However, Chenla art is divided into three styles: Sambor Prei Kuk (600-650), Prei Khmeng (635-700), and Kompong Preah (706-800). These four styles denote pre-Angkorian art.

According to his attributes, this figure is Visnu (Preserver of the World). Not only are there representations of Visnu in Khmer sculpture, but there are many representations of the incarnations of Visnu such as Krsna, Rama, Kalkin, & etc. On the lintel no. Ka.1774, Visnu is represented with four arms sleeping on the naga Ananta in the ocean. Another example in the collection of the National Museum is the reclining Visnu in bronze, which will be described below in the metal category. Some representations in the Museum’s collection represent a combination of Visnu and Siva known as Harihara.

The presentation of Visnu with four arms depended only on the sculptor who would like to show the power of the attributes of Visnu that are considered the perfect weapons to convince enemies.

Alternatively, the four attributes of Visnu represent the four fundamental elements of the cosmos: fire represented by the disk, water by the conch shell, earth by the sphere and wind by the mace.

This divinity leans slightly to the left. The upper right hand carries a cakra (disk) reinforced by an elongated attachment to the head, the lower right hand is broken, the upper left hand holds a conch (broken), and the lower left hand holds a mace considered to be a prop. The mitre is cylindrical. The forehead presents a row of curls shaped like silkworms with a fringe below. The hair falls over the nape of the neck.

This statue demonstrates a traditional way of wearing the sampot that is often found in ancient Khmer art. This method is called ‘chang kbin’ or ‘can kbin’. The sampot is made from a rectangular cut of fabric called the dhoti designed to cover the lower part of the body from the hips. To secure it, the sampot is knotted over the stomach and the remaining fabric is passed between the legs. The rolled-up edge is fastened at the back in the form known as ‘kantuoy kbin’ and is shaped like a fishtail. The front part of the sampot has a folded edge above the knee and a fishtail below the stomach. The upper part of the sampot (around the hips) forms a simple rim. The face has a faint smile on the lips. The abdomen is distended, the shoulders are wide and the small bangs on the forehead indicate youth, elegance and benevolence.


Contact: Webmaster ©2013 National Museum of Cambodia
This website is sponsored by the Bickford Family Trust and FOKCI