Lintel with Anthropomorphic Dragon in Foliage

Central Cambodia

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 244

This lintel once graced the east entrance to an early Khmer brick sanctuary. Its uniqueness lies in its decoration, given to a single motif: a glaring, fearsome monster face with anthropomorphic arms and hands, emerging from luxuriant foliage. Where did such a creature originate? The protective kirttimukha (face of glory) is an ancient motif in Indian art. This mask also hints at Chinese dragons, such as the monster-faced anthropomorph in funerary sculpture of the Northern Qi and Sui dynasties (6th–7th century). This rare Khmer rendering of a monster mask is among the earliest known in a Southeast Asian context.

cat. no. 18

Lintel with Anthropomorphic Dragon in Foliage, Sandstone, Central Cambodia

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