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Cambodian, Head of a Hindu god, probably Shiva, 12th century, Museum Appropriation Fund


Head of a Hindu god, probably Shiva

Unknown artist, Cambodian, Khmer
Head of a Hindu god, probably Shiva, 12th century
22.2 x 12.5 x 13 cm (8 3/4 x 4 15/16 x 5 1/8 inches) (without base)
Museum Appropriation Fund 31.282

This finely sculpted head of a Hindu god (right) likely came from the area of Angkor, the Khmer capital between the late ninth and mid-fifteenth centuries. Hindu and Buddhist teachings spread to Cambodia early in the first millenium CE. Khmer rulers frequently identified themselves with Hindu deities such as Shiva, here identified by the third eye (on his forehead) and the coil of matted locks, which is indicative of his ascetic mode. The strong, forcefully delineated face is distinguished by a small mustache and a chin beard drawn in low relief. His hair is covered by a lotus petal. As an example of the so-called Baphuon style, this beautifully modeled head was probably part of a sculpture made for a major architectural complex.

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