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Vishnu, c. 1050

Cambodia: Angkor period, 1025-1075
41-1/2 in. (105.4 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation, Gift of Jennifer Jones Simon
© Norton Simon Art Foundation

On view

Although this figure is portrayed with Shiva’s third eye (tri-locana), he represents the Hindu god Vishnu, identified by the conch shell in the upper-left hand. It was not uncommon during antiquity for images of gods to be altered during periods of religious persecution or at the beginning of a new regnal cycle. This allowed Khmer kings to distinguish themselves from their predecessors.

We can tell that the third eye on this sculpture was added later because its carving style is inconsistent with that of the rest of the figure. Notice the delicate rendering of the individual florets on Vishnu’s diadem and fingernails as opposed to the rough depiction of the third eye.

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