Since 2015 the Cleveland Museum of Art has had a cultural exchange agreement with the National Museum of Cambodia. As a part of this exchange, Cambodia has sent us a piece of monumental carving from a remote temple. It has never been lent to any other museum before, so it is quite a feather in Cleveland's cap.
The Khmer Empire controlled much of southeast Asia between 800 and 1400. Its capital was the city of Angkor, and the ruins of its royal temple, Angkor Wat, is a major tourist destination. There was another, lesser known city, Banteay Chhmar, whose temple rivaled Angkor. Unfortunately much of the structure, which was built in the late 12th century and early 13th century, has collapsed or has been ravaged by looters. The sacred precinct of the temple was surrounded by a wall covered with carvings. One of the few remaining fragments of that wall is on display now in Cleveland. It measures eight feet in height, so it is quite an impressive piece.
The figure with many arms is called a Lokeshvara, the personification of the Buddhist ideal of compassion.
Rounding out the exhibit were a number of items from Khmer Empire taken from our museum's own collection of Asian art, one of the most extensive in the United States.