BUST OF SMILING SHIVA
Bust of a smiling Shiva sculpted in the dark grey sandstone typical of the Angkor period. This material was mined from the Phnom Kulen mountains. Clear traces of erosion, but the decorative sculpting of necklaces adorned with forms seeming to represent skulls and bracelets, and the small peaks of Shiva’s hairstyle are still nicely visible. The god is portrayed in a dancing aspect and his mystic third eye is visible on the forehead. Good state of preservation.
These two finely sculpted Khmer heads that are perfect examples of the art of the Baphuon temple, part of the incredible monumental complex of Angkor Wat. Constructed under the reign of Udayadityavarman II around the year 1060, this temple was intended to recreate with a certain ambition the world of the gods on earth. Dedicated to Shiva, it was known as the golden mountain as it seems to have been covered in bronze plaques in order to evoke Mount Meru. Today, it is still one of the greatest religious monuments of the world, along with Borobudur. The finest Baphuon faces are those which possess, like here, this smiling grace that renders them so peaceful. They are recognisable by their incised features, the eyes and the lips drawn simply with a smooth line, and the short chin, often with a dimple. Their benevolent smile is magnified by the drawing of fleshy lips and generous mouth. The serene and friendly face of number 259 is identifiable as a Buddha by its hairstyle with an Ushnisha placed on the top of the head. This one is particularly refined as it is decorated with a four-leafed trefoil inside the ears. The ears have also been decorated with a refined trilobate geometric motif. Furthermore, it has the three folds of beauty on the neck, a vital sign identifying the Buddha. At his side, Shiva also sculpted in this grey sandstone coming from the nearby mountains of Kulen, is represented as a dancing Shiva, ornamented with necklaces and earrings. Most of the temples of Angkor Wat are dedicated to it. There is evidence of the desire for harmony, an aesthetic quest for smooth and serene faces, a desire to express simplicity and kindness that make these two graceful faces communicate well-being.