Pre-Angkor period, Prasat Andet style
Late 7th–early 8th century
Cambodia or Vietnam
35 1/2 x 13 3/8 in. (90.2 x 34 cm)
The veneration of a composite of Vishnu (Hari) and Shiva (Hara) was popular in the Mekong Delta area in the seventh and eighth centuries. Shiva, with his vertical third eye and piled matted hair, is on the right, while the left side is Vishnu, identified by his tall miter. Such Hari-Hara images are known from India, but this form was more popular in Southeast Asia. Like other Pre-Angkor sculptures, the surface was originally highly polished, sections of which are still visible at the back.
Sculptural evidence makes clear that a cult devoted to Hari-Hara, a syncretic deity uniting Vishnu (Hari) and Shiva (Hara) in one form, was popular in the Mekong Delta area of mainland Southeast Asia in the seventh and eighth centuries. The accommodation of both principal Hindu male deities in a single cult had obvious advantages for local rulers who had recently adopted Hindu culture. An example of the pre-Angkorian Prasat Andet style, this royal cult icon once had a highly polished surface. Shiva is identified by the vertical third eye on his forehead and by his piled, matted hair, while Vishnu’s conical, undecorated miter (headdress) is one of his distinguishing features in the pre-Angkor period.
© The Metropolitan Museum of Art