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These works explore the cult of Shiva and his family, including his wife, Parvati, and their children, Ganesha and Skanda, and the overarching role of Shiva as divine protector embodied in the linga. Seventh-century Khmer priests and artists generated new ways of expressing Shiva's identity not seen in India. Shaiva devotionalism as practiced by Khmer rulers reflects their belief that success in kingship flowed from immersion in the grace of the Indic gods. These were personal cults enacted in a Hindu landscape, enlivened by identified holy places (tirthas). The latter were not understood as surrogate places of worship but rather as sacred places whose efficacy was equal to those in India. Seventh-century Cambodia was, in the mind of those local rulers committed to Hindu devotion (bhakti), a world permeated and defined by Shiva's presence.

The symbols of Shiva's pervasiveness in early Southeast Asia are numerous: a Shiva footprint (shivapada), a silver sacred bull, the trident, the precious metal one-faced linga cover (lingakosha), and the ubiquitous linga itself. The unique lintel depiction of the Lingodbhavamurti myth, which depicts Shiva revealing himself supreme over the other Brahmanical gods, together with a royal consecration, known as abheskha, highlights the extent to which seventh-century Southeast Asia was Shiva's land.

Selected Artworks

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