A KHMER BRONZE BUDDHA MUCHALINDA
Cambodia, Angkor period, 12th century. Finely cast and incised bronze with Buddha seated cross-legged in Dhyanasana on the coils of Muchalinda, beneath the seven-headed canopy of the serpent king.
Provenance: From an important collection of Buddhist art. Old collector's label on underside of base, see detail image of label with inscription at www.zacke.at.
Condition: Superb condition with naturally grown malachite-green patina, old wear, some corrosion but hardly any losses whatsoever.
Weight: 821.9 grams.
Dimensions: Height 25 cm including the pole at the lower end. 21 cm without the pole.
This sculpture depicts the serpent king Muchilinda protecting the Buddha Shakyamuni from heavy rains. There are numerous extant Cambodian images of this configuration because it was the focus of a cult during the reign of the Cambodian King Jayavarman VII, who ruled the Khmer empire from 1181 to 1218. Although this scene had been depicted even earlier in Southeast Asia, it was the Khmer who popularized it. The reasons why Jayavarman chose to stress the Muchilinda Buddha, remain the subject of intense scientific discussion and speculation. Snakes were associated with healing, and perhaps because Jayavarman may have been disabled, he emphasized healing, as indicated by his construction of hospitals throughout his reign.
The present Buddha is wearing a short loincloth around his waist, adorned with elaborate jewelry, a crown surrounding his hair piled high and surmounted by a conical ushnisha and hands held in his lap holding a small stupa.
Compare with a related statue in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, under Accession Number: 1987.424.19a, b.