VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Harihara
MG 14910
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

Exceptional in many respects, the work features Harihara, the Hindu divinity uniting Shiva and Vishnu in one image, in accordance with an iconographic style going back to Kushan India. To the left is Shiva whose thick, flowing hair, characteristic of ascetics, is marked by a crescent moon. The third eye, the now fragmented trident (trishula) and the tight-fitting tiger-skin are other distinguishing features of this deity. The other half of the image portrays Vishnu, discernible by the cylindrical mitre-like headdress and at least one of his attributes, the discus (cakra). Bringing together two major Hindu gods, this sculpture originally belonged to an important Vishnuite sanctuary, near the ancient city of Angkor Borei, in the south of present day Cambodia. This ensemble unites sculpted images which are among the finest of all the Khmer art in a complex of temples and grottos on the Phnom Da hill and its immediate surroundings. The fine face, bearing an expression of slightly haughty benevolence, displays the hooked nose and almond-shaped eyes of this fine style. This style can also be discerned in the particular treatment of Vishnu’s loincloth (sampot), a section of which once draped down between the legs towards the plinth, which is no longer there.

History of the Object
Originally installed in one of the temples on the hill of Phnom Da, this work was lying abandoned at the foot of the hill, where it was noticed sometime after 1874 by Étienne Aymonier. He collected it some years later, out of precaution, after it had been smashed in 1880 by a wild elephant which remained for a long time the terror of the region.

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Type
Sculpture 
Materials
stoneware 
Measurements
Height 174 cm.  
Creator name
Unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
Cambodia; Ta Keo Province; Asram Maha Rosei 
Geography
Cambodia 
Time period
AD 6th century ~ AD 7th century 
Creation date
6th Century -7th Century 
Function
Object of worship in a Brahmanic sanctuary 
Acquisition
Sent to France by Etienne Aymonier in 1882-1883. Entered the Guimet Museum in 1890. 
Copyright
 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
Owned by the French State - Paris, Guimet Museum. 
Museum
Musée National des arts asiatiques Guimet 
Credit line
 

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