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Torso of a Male Divinity

Asian Art

On View: Asian Galleries, North, 2nd floor (Japan)
MEDIUM Sandstone
  • Place Made: Cambodia
  • DATES ca. 978–1010
    DIMENSIONS 48 3/4 x 21 1/2 in. (124.0 x 54.5 cm)  (show scale)
    CREDIT LINE Purchase gift of Dr. Bertram H. Schaffner
    PROVENANCE Prior to 1989, provenance not yet documented; by at least 1970s, reportedly in an anonymous French collection; 1989, acquired from an anonymous French collection by Adrian Maynard, Ltd., London, United Kingdom; 1991, purchased from Adrian Maynard, Ltd. by the Brooklyn Museum.
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    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Torso of a massive standing male figure with two arms. The figure wears a pleated, knee-length sampot (loin cloth), and the upper torso is left bare. There are no jeweled ornaments. Projecting forearms and hands are void on both arms, so identifying attributes are lacking for the figure. The body, though, idealized, has naturalistic proportions, volumetric modeling, and a smooth transition between planes. It has wide shoulders, chest musculature, a well-defined clavicle, incised aureoles around the nipples, thick waist, slightly rounded belly, slightly vertical indentation at the area of the navel and deeply cut circular navel, slender hips, thick thighs, knees indicated by a slight protuberance, shins indicated by a vertical ridge, and buttocks indicated above the drapery at the back with a slight roundness. The neck has three incised horizontal lines (trivali) at the front. The smoothly polished surface of the torso contrasts with the relatively unpolished garment area. The figure wears only a narrowly pleated sampot, which includes a stylized hanging sash or panel with two anchor-shaped pleats, and two low-relief points, which represent sash-ends, at either side of the anchors. A sweep of three smooth, wide, scalloped drapes covers most of the left thigh. A broad flap of pleated fabric hangs over the sash at the waist, a fashion which first appeared in the last quarter of the ninth century, then became the convention in the tenth century during the Koh Ker period, and can also be seen on the figure from Bantreay Srei (see W. Felten and M. Lerner, Thai and Cambodian Sculpture from the 6th century to the 14th centuries, London, Sotheby's, 1989 p. 201). The large flap, the over-lapping anchors, and the scalloped side-drape resembles those of an unidentified male deity in the Musee Guimet (illustrated by Boiseller in Asie du Sud-Est Le Combodge, Paris, 1966, in the line drawing, Figure 61n, as the Angor Wat style; another figure in similar sampot, also illustrated by Boisellier, is a Siva from Prasat Chrap in the Muse de Phenom-Penh, of the Koh Ker style, see plate XXXIV, Number 3). The figure is carved fully in the round, although it is meant to be seen from the front. A the back, the rounded end of the anchor pleat is visible between the legs (also very similar to Boisellier, op. cit., Figure 61b). A stine support to sustain the weight of the figure extends vertically at the back of the left calf. The only unfinished area of the surface is the crevice between the legs, at the back. Boisellier (op. cit., pp. 248-49) says that larger figural scultptures of the Koh Ker period are distinguished by a fluidity of line and the balanced dynamism that replaces the hieratic frontality of earlier periods. Male Koh Ker figures generally wear sampots similar to this one, without the pocket drape seen on Ankor Wat figures, although the widely scalloped drape on the left thigh might be a variation on the Ankor pocket drape. Unike Ankor Wat statues , the majority of Koh Ker figures are ornamented with jeweled collars and armlets. The drapery and physical vitality of the figure, combined with the lack of jeweled ornaments, suggests that the sculpture may have been executed during a transitional phase sometime after Koh Ker and prior to Ankor Wat. Condition: Voids at the top of the neck, above elbows, at the knee of the right leg, above the ankle of the left leg, and in the front and side edges of the overlapping pleat. Thin coat of earth on the surface; surface abrasions , nicks, and shallow voids throughout. Some rust-colored stains occur randomly at the back. July 1992: Cleaned and painted over to improve surface condition.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Asian Galleries, North, 2nd floor (Japan)
    CAPTION Torso of a Male Divinity, ca. 978–1010. Sandstone, 48 3/4 x 21 1/2 in. (124.0 x 54.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchase gift of Dr. Bertram H. Schaffner, 1991.131. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1991.131_PS11.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 1991.131_PS11.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2021
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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