Khmer Stone Linga and Bronze Yoni Pedestal



Origin: Cambodia
Circa: 10 th Century AD to 13 th Century AD
Dimensions:4.25" (10.8cm) high
Collection: Asian
Style: Khmer
Medium: Bronze and Stone

The Khmer civilization, today embodied by the temples and ruins of Angkor, one of mankind's most astonishing and enduring architectural achievements, flourished from 802-1431 A.D. From the great citadel of Angkor, the kings of the Khmer empire ruled over a vast domain that reached from what is now southern Vietnam to Yunan, China and from Vietnam westward to the Bay of Bengal. The original city was built around the Phnom Bakeng, a temple on a hill symbolizing the mountain that stands in the center of the world according to Hindu cosmology. Successive kings enlarged the city, building other temples devoted to various Hindu deities and large reservoirs used for irrigation, which also symbolized the ocean surrounding the holy central mountain. The small size of this linga suggests that it was an idol worshipped within the private confines of a family’s household altar. As an added benefit, its compactness would have made it easily transportable during business or diplomatic voyages. Clearly, the workmanship of this piece and the preciousness of the materials suggest that it would have been the treasured possession of an elite member of the Khmer hierarchy, someone likely to venture to other territories on behalf of the king. Originally, the pedestal may have even been gilt. The pedestal is modeled on a larger, real life snanadroni, or ablution slab, used for the ritual bathing of sacred monuments in lustral waters. However realistically modeled, it is doubtful that this linga was washed in this pedestal. While it may not have served as a snanadroni, we can assume that, like its real life counterpart, this pedestal was always positioned with the conduit beak facing north. The small cylindrical linga, the phallic idol of Shiva, fits snuggly into the base. This is one of the rarer examples of Khmer art, an object of profound personal piety that embodies the most venerated god of the Brahmanic trinity. - (FZ.425)