Asia Central - South and East


Object :
Nº 1528
Medium :
Dimensions :
Height: 42 cm (16.5")
Bibliography :
Published in "Collecting Masterpieces" Part One by Beryl Cavallini, page 160

Description :

Ritual object in bronze, cast with the lost wax method. In the form of an adorned conch, the long neck finishing with a bird head, presumably a tribute to the god Garuda.   According to custom the top of the conch is decorated with a representation of the goddess Hevajra with three heads and sixteen arms while dancing on one leg. Ritual conchs of that size are quite rare. Excellent state of preservation with presence of ancient green patina due to the oxidation.

This sort of ritual object is very rarely found in such a large size. This one was used in religious ceremonies in the ancient Khmer kingdom. This shankha conch represents a turbinella, and is one of the four attributes of Vishnu, serving to represent the creation of the world. Bronzes shaped like mollusc shells seem to belong only to the Khmer civilisation. It was used as a vessel for ablutions in which it was customary to pour purifying water over statues of the divinities who were worshipped. When not in use, the conch was placed horizontally on a tripod which had a specific shape. This shell has been decorated with a long neck, bearing a bird’s head with a pointed, triangular beak which was a homage to the god Garuda. The bottom of the shell is decorated with the tutelary deity Hevajra, depicted in customary fashion with eight heads and sixteen arms, dancing on one of his four legs. Having been chased out by the Thais, the Khmers withdrew to a zone that corresponds to modern Cambodia, making Angkor their capital. Until the 14th century they had an important cultural influence over all of Indochina. The invention of objects with such a particular style is part of their specificity.