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Sculpture from Burma (Myanmar)
Sculpture from Cambodia
Sculpture from Indonesia
Sculpture from Thailand
Ceramics from Thailand
Ceramics from Vietnam
Crowned Buddha Seated in Meditation and Sheltered by Muchilinda
Cambodia; Angkor period (802-1431), Angkor Wat style, possibly 12th century
Copper alloy with recent covering of black and gold lacquer and gold leaf
H. 28 3/4 in. (73 cm)
Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection of Asian Art
The configuration of this sculpture, which depicts the serpent king Muchilinda protecting the Buddha Shakyamuni from a fierce storm, became the focus of a cult introduced by the Cambodian king Jayavarman VII, who ruled the Khmer empire from about 1181 to 1219. Although this scene has been depicted in both Indian and Southeast Asian art, it was the Khmer who popularized it. The reasons that Jayavarman chose to stress the Muchilinda Buddha remain speculative. The snake is the spirit of the irrigating waters in mainland Southeast Asia. The snake was also associated with healing, and perhaps because Jayavarman may have been lame, he emphasized healing, as indicated by his construction of hospitals throughout the kingdom. During the 12th and 13th centuries, the Khmer kings stressed their close relationship to, if not their complete identification with, the Buddha. Thus, the crown and jewelry adorning these images are similar to those that were worn by the earthly kings.
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