Buddha Protected by a Seven-headed Naga


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 249

This fragmentary sculpture can be associated with the late phase of Buddhist patronage in the vicinity of Angkor Thom, at Angkor, under the reign of King Jayavarman VII (r. 1181–1218), a devout Mahayana Buddhist. It depicts what must be assumed was the seated Buddha in deep meditation, resting on the coils of a snake that raises its seven-headed hood above the Buddha’s head. The cult of the animistic naga (snake-serpent) is an ancient practice in India and was readily taken up in Angkorian Cambodia to reflect a meeting of Indic and local cults that acknowledge the power of snake-spirits.

Buddha Protected by a Seven-headed Naga, Sandstone, Cambodia

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