Khmer Buddha with Naga
Khmer sandstone Buddha seated on naga.
The Buddha is calm and serene, in meditative dhyana mudra pose, fingers on lap. An incised lotus flower is sculpted into the canopy of the naga.
This sculpture depicts the serpent king Muchilinda protecting the Buddha 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 about 1181 to 1218. Although this scene had been depicted earlier in South and Southeast Asian art, it was the Khmer who popularized it. The reasons that Jayavarman chose to stress the Muchilinda Buddha remain speculative. Snakes were associated with healing, and perhaps because Jayavarman may have been lame, he emphasized healing, as indicated by his construction of hospitals throughout the kingdom.
23.5 cm high (excl base) x 12 cm wide x 7 cm deep
With base: 28cm high x 12cm wide x 9cm deep