This sculpture portrays the standing Buddha with hands forming the double gesture of assurance (abhaya mudra). The image is unusually tall and finely finished. Many Southeast Asian images represent the standing Buddha in simple monastic robes. In this Khmer sculpture, however, the Buddha is dressed in royal finery. He wears a conical crown, heavy earrings, jewelled necklace, elaborate armbands and ornamental belt. The borders of his elegant skirt cloth are exquisitely worked, and the stylised drapery of the Buddha’s cloak contributes to the symmetry of the figure. Each hand is decorated with a wheel (chakra). The Buddha appears to be standing perfectly still, with a peaceful, benign expression on his face. Originally, the wide open eyes would have been inlaid with precious stones.
This sculpture was cast at a time when the influence of the Khmer kingdom, with Angkor as its capital, extended from Cambodia into the central and north-eastern provinces of today’s Thailand, as well as into parts of Laos and Vietnam. The sculpture is in the Angkor Wat style, named for the magnificent Cambodian temple of the same name and period.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Ron Radford (ed), Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2008