Cambodia, Khmer 19th century or earlier very large and decorative 3 piece bronze Naga throne in the form of Cobra serpents.
Measures: Height 25.5 inches (65 cm)
Width 11 inches
Depth 6.5 inches
During the 20th century, the image of the Buddha meditating on Naga, the mythical sea serpent, became the most important Mahayana Buddhist cult image in Cambodia. He is traditionally represented in the meditation posture, seated upon the three-coiled throne of Naga’s body. Naga’s hood rises from behind the Buddha, spreading his seven heads outwards resembling the shape of a tree. Indeed, this image recalls the traditional Indian iconography of the Buddha under the Tree of Enlightenment. Typical of the Angkor period, the Buddha is depicted adorned in the sumptuous regalia reserved for Khmer royalty. A jeweled diadem crowns his head. His hair elegantly styled in a conical coiffure that also serves as his usnisha. Furthermore, he wears armbands and bracelets, a necklace and heavy earrings. By relating him to the royal elite, the artist imbues the Buddha with the powers associated with the King. In his hands, he holds a mysterious object. A lotus bud? A jewel? An alms bowl? Sometimes, this object is interpreted as a medicinal flask, leading this type of work to be identified as the “master of remedies.” This identification, although speculative, suggests the inherent power of this work to heal, to cure the sick, to soothe the suffering of humanity.