Wednesday, March 24, 2021

From Southeast Asia

Our tour of the Cleveland Art Museum's Asian collection continues with sculptures from Southeast Asia.  The region was strongly influenced by the art of India, as well as India's religions of Hinduism and Buddhism.  Around 250 BC the Indian Emperor Asoka sent monks out to spread Buddhism.  

One country which embraced Buddhism wholeheartedly, and which still is overwhelmingly Buddhist, is Thailand. 

This large statue of Buddha dates back tp the 600s.  It shows Indian influences, but the facial features resemble those of the local population.

This carving from 8th or 9th century Thailand shows Buddha and two attendants flying through the air on a winged lion-like creature.

A limestone bust of Buddha from the 8th century

The Champa KIngdom once extended across what is today the country of Vietnam.  In the 4th century they adopted Hinduism.  In the 9th and 10th centuries the ruling dynasty adopted Buddhism, but later the kingdom reverted to Hinduism.  Even today there is a segment of the Champa people who are the only ones to practice Hinduism in Vietnam.

This naturalistic 10th century carving of an elephant shows strong Indian influence.

This enthroned planetary deity would have stood at the entrance to a Buddhist temple.

This carving of a celestial being was a decoration projecting from a temple.

The most powerful and famous of the kingdoms of Southeast Asia was the Khmer Empire, centered in present day Cambodia.  It flourished from 9th to the 14th centuries.  Its capital, Angkor, may have been at one time the largest city in the world, and its temple carvings represent the pinnacle of Southeast Asian art.  The official religion was Hinduism, although Buddhism also had many followers.

A 10th century sculpture of a deity or a king

A statue of the Hindu god Shiva, done in the early 1100s and found in Angkor.

This carving of celestial dancers done in the late 1100s was part of a frieze decorating a temple in Angkor.

A standing female deity dating from the 900s from a temple to Shiva in Angkor

This figure of a kneeling man is from the 11th century.  His "third eye" on his forehead identifies him as a worshipper of Shiva.  The eyes, eyebrows, mustache and beard of this figure were originally inlaid with silver.

There is yet more to come from the Cleveland Museum of Art.

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