Silver Sculpture of the Buddha - FZ.421
Origin: Cambodia
Circa: 17 th Century AD to 19 th Century AD
Dimensions: 8.5" (21.6cm) high
Collection: Asian
Style: Cambodian
Medium: Silver
Condition: Extra Fine


After the fall of Angkor and the great Khmer Empire in the 15th Century, Cambodia fell under the control of the Thai. The Ayutthayan invasion initiated a period of foreign influence and occupation that lasted until the French granted Cambodia independence on November 9, 1953. Initially, in 1864, the French were welcomed in the 19th Century by King Norodum, the ruler of Cambodia. Having been alternately controlled by the Thai and Vietnamese for over four hundred years, Norodum expected the French to protect his country from his neighbors. While the French where unable to thwart Siam (Thailand) from temporarily annexing western regions of the nation, they did manage to stop the country from being completely divided between Siam and Vietnam.

This silver sculpture of the Buddha reveals the influence of foreign cultures on the art of Cambodia. It is ironic that Thailand, which began as a breakaway province of the Khmer Empire with the establishment of the Sukhothai Kingdom in 1238, was initially artistically and culturally indebted to the Khmer. For by the time this sculpture was created, the art of Cambodia was wholly reflective of the Thai influence on the culture and politics of this once mighty nation. Here, the Buddha is seated in the Vajraparyanka lotus posture (Padmasana) resting his arms in the Bhumisparsa mudra, or “gesture of touching the earth.” A symbol of unshakable faith and resolution, this mudra portrays the Buddha taking the earth as his witness. The Sakyamuni is enthroned upon a high, tiered, triangular shaped lotus throne. Highly ornamented with incised stylized foliage and partially covered in a draped fabric, this type of pedestal is characteristic of Thai examples. Furthermore, the modeling of the Buddha himself is related to the art of Thailand. Specifically, the Buddha’s tightly curled hair and the flame of enlightenment that rises out of his ushnisa. This precious work, rendered in silver atop an earthen core and featuring an inscription on its back, was a sacred relic worshipped in its own time. Today, it is gorgeous testament to the tumultuous history of Cambodia and the spiritual beliefs of the people that have allowed them to thrive. - (FZ.421)



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