Printer Friendly

As in heaven, so on earth: the politics of Visnu, Siva and Harihara images in Preangkorian Khmer civilisation.

The mitred four-armed Visnu images of early Southeast Asia have been the focus of a number of scholarly studies. Most of these have dealt primarily with chronology and stylistic and iconographic relationships with Indian art rather than the cultural context of the images themselves. In a recent article that attempts to address all of these issues, Nadine Dalsheimer and Pierre-Yves Manguin argue that the popularity of Visnu in ancient Southeast Asia -- and particularly in Preangkorian Khmer civilisation (generally defined as pre-ninth-century CE) -- was due to the role played by Vaisnavism in Southeast Asian trading networks. (2) Their emphasis on trade as an explanation for the diffusion of Indian religions and art into Southeast Asia is a restatement of long-asserted arguments that are open to considerable doubt. While trade may partially account for the distribution of the mitred Visnu images in the coastal areas of Southeast Asia, it does not adequately explain the popularity of these images, the significa nce of Visnu in Southeast Asian cultures or the fact that the tradition persisted among the Khmer for many centuries. This article argues that the popularity of Visnu and other Brahmanical deities was linked to patterns of political authority and that the Southeast Asian ruling elite, whether kings or chiefs, utilised images of the gods with these considerations in mind. (3) The deities Visnu and Siva embodied two different conceptions of sovereignty (or leadership in general), and images of these deities were employed to exploit these contrasting notions according to location and styles of rule.

These practices are perhaps best understood through analysis of a third case: Harihara, a composite deity generally characterised in ancient Indian and Khmer art by a strict bilateral division between the proper left side with the attributes of Visnu (Han) and the proper right with the attributes of Siva (Hara). (4) Khmer sculptures of Harihara invariably have four arms and a vertical demarcation of the head into two 'half-faces' so that the right side of the head is piled high with Siva's elaborately tangled locks (jatamukuta) and the left side is covered by Visnu's tall cylindrical mitre (kitiysmukuya). By unifying Siva and Visnu in one anthropomorphic form, Khmer images of Harihara served as a divine analogue for the concentration of the two forms of royal power. Harihara is commonly interpreted, however, as a syncretic deity that brought about the rapprochement of two allegedly 'rival' Hindu sects, Saivism and Vaisnavism. (5) This explanation is over-simplistic and dubious, particularly if applied to the ancient Khmer; there is no evidence from the Preangkorian period, for example, to indicate hostilities or competition between various 'exclusive' sects of Hinduism. (6) The popularity of Harihara in Preangkorian Cambodia seems instead to have been related to specific historical and political circumstances among the Khmer during the seventh and early eighth centuries. Rulers based in northern Cambodia, where the style of rule was linked to Siva, were trying to assert and/or maintain control over coastal areas to the south, where Visnu had been the traditional symbol of royal power. These northern rulers consequently employed an icon that represented the union of both deities and the concurrent conceptions of authority represented by each, in order to symbolise and legitimise their own territorial and political aspirations.

None of this is meant to minimise the importance of religious considerations in ancient mainland Southeast Asia; rather than placing religion at the service of politics, I intend to underscore the inseparability of the two in Preangkorian society and sovereignty. I agree with Melford Spiro, who has been critical of interpretations of 'religion as almost exclusively an instrument in the political struggle for power and prestige.' It is an historical fact, he argues, that religion can be used for political and economic gain, but manipulation of religion must be distinguished from actual religious behaviour and beliefs. (7)

The earliest evidence (fifth and sixth centuries)

Throughout Southeast Asia, the earliest and most important archaeological and epigraphic evidence for Indian influence relates to the worship of Visnu and his various avatars. (8) From his first known appearance in Southeast Asia (ca. 450) in the Ci-aruton rock inscription, associated with the polity of Taruma in western Java, Visnu was linked to kingship and to territorial control and expansion. The inscription, accompanied by a pair of carved footprints, refers to Purnavarman, the ruler of Taruma, and compares his footprints to those of Visnu (Visnupada). In the Jambu rock inscription, also associated with Taruma and bearing similar footprints, Purnavarman, 'the unequalled lord of men', is said to have resisted numerous foes; his footprints were 'ever dexterous in destroying hostile towns'. Although Visnu is not mentioned in the Jambu inscription, its similarity to the Ci-aruton text with its reference to Visnupada clearly indicates that Purnavarman was employing the same symbolism in both cases, namely tha t the king's/Visnu's footprints were meant to indicate the imposition of the king's authority. They were set up to literally mark out his realm, or at least the areas he sought to dominate. (9) It is possible that these types of inscriptions indicate zones of conflict rather than demarcating regions under firm control. The reason for invoking Visnu is nevertheless clear, as Visnupada were often associated with the three strides by which he is said to have traversed and conquered the entire universe.

The linking of royal authority with Visnu and his footprints occurs again in the inscription of Thap Muoi (K.5), now in southern Vietnam, which Coedes dates to the second half of the fifth century on the basis of the form of the script. (10) According to this inscription, Gunavarman, the son of a king (perhaps of the polity known to us as 'Funan', probably located in the lower Mekong River delta and/or around the Gulf of Siam), controlled a 'realm wrested from the mud.' (11) It further commemorates the foundation of a sanctuary named Chakratirthasvamin which contained Visnupada. Coedes contrasts the nature of the footprint-associated inscriptions of Gunavarman and Purnavarman: '[w]hereas the footprints of Purnavarman in Java perhaps marked, as has been said, the taking possession of a country after a military conquest, these prints of Vishnu mark a peaceful conquest, after drainage and partial raising of embankments...' While this is an interesting suggestion, it should be noted that the Tugu rock inscription of western Java credits Purnavarman with the construction of two canals. (12) Although the Tugu inscription contains no references to Visnu or footprints, it indicates that Gunavarman and Purnavarman viewed their authority in similar terms and associated the imposition of authority with the control of water through physical alteration of the lands in question.

Another inscription (K.875), from the southern part of Takeo Province in Cambodia and also attributed by Coedes to the polity of Funan, refers to a queen named Kulaprabhavati and her foundation of a hermitage apparently dedicated to Visnu. Thus both of these inscriptions, from the coastal areas of southern Cambodia and Vietnam usually associated with the polity of Funan, invoke Visnu in the context of the exercise of royal authority. The case of Kulaprabhavati, who is identified in K.875 as a rajni (queen), reminds us that in ancient Southeast Asia women were able to wield political authority and participate in practices that served to express the 'extraordinary qualities' associated with 'people of prowess'. (13)

Just as the Visnu-oriented inscriptions are among the oldest extant epigraphy in Southeast Asia, the same deity accounts for the earliest known anthropomorphic images from the region. These four-armed mitred Visnu images, most of which probably date from between the fifth and seventh (or perhaps eighth) centuries, have been found throughout coastal Southeast Asia: in peninsular Thailand, in western Java, at the site of Kota Kapur in the province of South Sumatra (island of Bangka), and in the Mekong River valley of present-day southern Cambodia and Vietnam. It is the latter group, consisting of over thirty sculptures, that is most relevant to this paper. In contrast, only one pre-ninth-century image of Visnu, the Visnu of Kompong Chain Kau (Stung Treng Province), is known to have come from northern Cambodia. (14)

The overwhelming prevalence of Visnu-centred foundations in the southern Indochinese Peninsula during the fifth and sixth centuries was matched in contemporary northern Cambodia by dedications directed primarily towards Siva. During the Preangkorian period, he was depicted almost exclusively in the phallic form of the linga. Unlike the common four-armed image of Visnu, there is perhaps only a single anthropomorphic image of Siva prior to the late ninth-century style of Preah Ko. (15) Otherwise, Siva is only encountered on the right half of Harihara images or in the form of the linga, both of which have a wide geographical distribution in Preangkorian Khmer art. Louis Malleret, in his archaeological study of the Mekong Delta, includes a number of Siva lingas from that region. He employs a typology in which the naturalistic lingas that more closely resemble human anatomy are placed in the Preangkorian period while the abstract or geometric lingas are assigned to the Angkorian period (post-802 CE). This is contr oversial, however, and, while a range of the fifth to the eighth or ninth centuries is reasonable, it is by no means certain. Even if some of the lingas have dates as early as Malleret suggests, the Visnu images in the south far outnumber them. Early (fifth- and sixth-century) epigraphic references to Siva in the south are similarly lacking. (16)

Northern Cambodia, northeastern Thailand and southern Laos, on the other hand, provide clearer evidence of linga dedications during the fifth and sixth centuries. A number of brief inscriptions dating to this period and usually attributed to the so-called 'Dangrek [mountain range] Chieftains', record the installation of lingas. The earliest of these inscriptions is probably that of Vat Luong Kau (K.365) in southern Laos, which Coedes dates to the second half of the fifth century. (17)

In addition, there are at least twelve sixth-century inscriptions (dated by paleography) associated with a chief/king named Citrasena (also known as Mahendravarman) and three others that mention Bhavavarman (I), all of which record Siva-oriented foundations -- usually lingas but also images of the bull Nandin. Pierre Dupont noticed that the erection of these lingas coincided with the taking 'possession of the soil' and he suggested that the foundations were specifically intended to demarcate territorial control. (18) Coedes, following Dupont, argued that '[s]ince these lingas and images were set up on the occasion of "conquest of the whole country," we can conclude that Mahendravarman followed the expansionist policies of his predecessor [Bhavavarman I]'. Michael Vickery, however, while agreeing that these "'Dangrek chieftains" were indeed conquerors, or at least would be conquerors', has recently argued that these inscriptions 'should be regarded as records of exploratory probes rather than enduring conquest s, with little, if any, permanent effect... [and not as] "delimiting" any kingdom'. (19) Whatever the case may be, what is significant here is that these rulers consciously selected Siva lingas to indicate their presence and potential authority, whereas, as we have already seen, contemporary rulers in the south opted for images of Visnu.

The seventh and eighth centuries

During the seventh century, the pattern of distribution of images became decidedly more mixed. This was probably linked to the ever-increasing rise of power inland in what is now northern Cambodia. At the centre of these developments, the deity Harihara rose to prominence. As mentioned above, anthropomorphic images of Siva were extremely rare during the Preangkorian period; they only began to appear in appreciable numbers in Khmer art in the late ninth century, during the reigns of Indravarman I (877-ca. 886) and his son Yasovarman I (889-ca. 915). Anthropomorphic images of Visnu and Harihara, by contrast, were relatively common during the this period. Unlike the mitred Visnu images, however, there are no known Southeast Asian sculptures of Harihara that can be convincingly dated to the sixth century or earlier. Both depictions of, and inscriptions referring to, Harihara probably appeared for the first time in Southeast Asia during the seventh century. (20)

Furthermore, unlike the wide distribution of the mitred Visnus, early Harihara images in Southeast Asian were confined to Khmer art. Harihara seems to have had its greatest appeal in Preangkorian Khmer culture and it achieved this degree of popularity in no other region of Southeast Asia or India, or indeed at any time in later Khmer history -- though the epigraphic and art historical evidence from Cambodia indicates that Harihara continued to be worshipped through the thirteenth century, albeit in an ever-diminishing capacity. As a result of Khmer influence, several interesting bronze images of Harihara were made in the Thai kingdom of Sukhothai during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, but by this time the worship of Hindu deities had clearly taken a back seat to Buddhism in mainland Southeast Asia. In other Hindu-influenced areas of Southeast Asia, Harihara is either completely absent from the historical record, as at Si Thep (Thailand) (21) and in Burma; extremely rare, as in Champa (22); or else da tes from a much later period, as in Java.

A terminus post quem of the early seventh century for the first appearance of Harihara in Khmer culture requires some discussion as it must be seen in the light of a very important recent revision of the generally accepted chronology of Preangkorian art. It is also interesting to note the often overlooked yet pivotal position held by one particular Harihara image in the sequence of Preangkorian sculpture. Establishing a chronology for the corpus of Harihara and Visnu images and for Preangkorian sculpture in general is one of the most complicated and controversial problems in the field of Southeast Asian art history. This is due primarily to the fact that most Preangkorian statuary is free-standing and free-floating and consequently cannot be linked with specific sanctuaries or inscriptions. In the most comprehensive and important study to date, Dupont pointed out the lack of Preangkorian art that meets what he called a 'double equation', meaning the simultaneous survival of a sanctuary, its central image and an inscription referring specifically to that image. At the time he was writing, only two known works of Preangkorian sculpture could definitely be placed in the context of a temple: a sculpture of Brahma found inside Sambor Prei Kuk sanctuary N22 and the well-known Harihara found inside Prasat Andet. In neither case, however, do inscriptions on the site mention these particular images. (23)

Rita Regnier subsequently published a sculpture of Harihara that she convincingly argues meets Dupont's criteria for a 'double equation'. The head and body were found separately in the debris of the sanctuary of Prasat Phum Prasat, which can be dated to the beginning of the eighth century not only on the basis of its architectural style, but also by an inscription on the south doorjamb of the main entrance (K.145/706 CE) that records offerings made to the god Sankara-Narayana ([approximately equal to] Harihara), presumably the very image enshrined in the sanctuary. (24) Thus, it is a Harihara made ca. 706 that is probably the most securely dated piece of Preangkorian sculpture.

Nowhere are the difficulties of establishing a reliable chronology for Khmer sculpture more pronounced than in the dating of what has often been considered the earliest style, that of 'Phnom Da', which takes its name from a hilltop site in southeastern Cambodia. Of particular importance for this discussion is the well-known Harihara of Asram Maha Rosei, generally believed to be one of the outstanding examples of this style. Dupont divided what he considered to be the earliest statuary from the area of Phnom Da and Angkor Borei into two parts, 'Styles A and B', to which he added a number of 'prolongements' in order to include pieces that were either slightly later or that were found outside of present-day southern Cambodia. The Harihara of Asram Maha Rosei was assigned to Phnom Da Style A, which he dated specifically to the reign of Rudravarman (ca. 514-39). Another Harihara, which now survives in two pieces, was assigned to the subsequent period of Style B, dated to the second half of the sixth century and pe rhaps extending through the early years of the seventh. (25)

The preeminent scholar of Khmer sculpture, Jean Boisselier, was suspicious of the early date accorded to the style of Phnom Da by Dupont. Despite a few comments here and there, however, he never fully articulated an alternative in print, tending to accept Dupont's chronology in his best-known publications. Other scholars also generally followed Dupont until recently, when Boisselier's suggestion of a later date for the Phnom Da style seems to have crept into numerous publications without comment or citation. (26) It was not until Nancy Dowling's article advocating a mid-seventh-century date that any scholar provided a cogent argument explaining why such a revision is in fact appropriate. A chronological adjustment of this magnitude has major implications for the study of Khmer art. According to Dowling, the new date 'shortens by 100 years the chronology for early Cambodian sculpture. Of further importance, no gap of 100 years now separates the Phnom Da style from the early to mid-seventh century date for the Sambor style.' I would go even further and suggest that, in addition to compressing the duration for the development of Khmer sculpture, a mid-seventh-century date for the style of Phnom Da would make it contemporary or, even more likely, slightly later than the style of Sambor, which is much more firmly anchored in the early to mid-seventh century. (27) These are critical points for the present discussion since the Harihara of Asram Maha Rosei should no longer be seen as the earliest Preangkorian image of that deity and since the first appearance of Harihara in Khmer art, on the basis of the available evidence, seems thus to have been tied to early to mid-seventh-century political developments at Sambor Prei Kuk.

Under Isanavarman I (ca. 616-37), Sambor Prei Kuk, after which the style of Sambor is named, became a dominant regional power centre. Located in the valley of the Stung Sen River in the Bassac region of northern Cambodia (province of Kompong Thom), it is a large complex with epigraphic evidence of occupation from at least the seventh through the tenth centuries. The identification of Sambor Prei Kuk with Isanavarman's capital, Isanapura -- a name that appears in various forms in both Chinese texts and local inscriptions -- is based on several inscriptions found on the site that mention Isanavarman in conjunction with extravagant dedications made there. Three groups of monuments, as well as a number of isolated sanctuaries, comprise the site. The bulk of the monuments in the northern and southern groups probably date to the first three quarters of the seventh century, whether to the reign of Isanavarman I or those of his successors, Bhavavarman II (ca. late 630s--50s?) and Jayavarman I (ca. 657-81). (28)

Three important images were found in the northern group: the aforementioned Brahma from sanctuary N22; an image of Durga Mahisasuramardini, parts of which were found in sanctuaries N1 and N9; and a fragmented image of Harihara found in sixty pieces in front of sanctuary N10. Unlike the other Preangkorian structures at Sambor Prei Kuk, temple N22 has a lintel in the style of Prei Kmeng. Consequently, Dupont dates the Brahama from N22 a little later in the seventh century than the other two images, which form the core of his 'Style of Sambor'. Precise dating of the Durga and Harihara images presents a problem because of the wide range of dates found in the inscriptions of the north group of Sambor Prei Kuk. Dupont and Bosselier, however, date them to the first half of the seventh century, a reasonable attribution given the references to Isanavarman and (probably) to Bhavavarman II in the epigraphy of the northern group. (29)

If we accept Dupont and Boisselier's dating of these images, they would precede the revised middle to late seventh-century date for the Phnom Da images. However, if we allow for the possibility that the images in the Sambor style may date to the reigns of Bhavavarman II or Jayavarman I, then there is a distinct possibility that these two styles may have existed simultaneously. Given the likelihood that the political pattern was one of multiple autonomous or semi-autonomous principalities, sometimes called mandalas, it would make sense for there to have been coexisting regional artistic styles rather than the often presumed straightforward linear stylistic development. Indeed, the styles of Phnom Da and Sambor Prei Kuk probably represent two distinct and coexisting 'schools' of seventh-century Khmer art, in the south of present-day Cambodia and to the north in the vicinity of Kompong Thorn respectively. (30)

As for Harihara images, the redating of the style of Phnom Da would place at least three large free-standing sculptures of the deity in the seventh century, probably between ca. 620-80: Sambor Prei Kuk, Asram Maha Rosei and the Phnom Da style B. Four other images of Harihara can be attributed to the style of Prasat Andet, a designation first used by Dupont to refer to a number of Preangkorian sculptures that he dated from the middle of the seventh to the beginning of the eighth centuries. Boisselier has since argued that the Prasat Andet style should be pushed back to the first half of the eighth century. (31) This would make the images roughly contemporary with two other images of Harihara assigned to the style of Kompong Preah (first half of the eighth century) by Dupont and Regnier. A second Harihara from Trapeang Phong probably constitutes the latest extant

Preangkorian sculpture of Harihara. (32)

Thus, in summary, at least ten Harihara images survive from the Preangkorian period (compared to only two known images during the entire Angkorian period). The earliest extant images of Harihara date to the reign of Isanavarman (in the early seventh century) while the two latest known examples date to during or just after the reign of Indravarman I (in the late 800s). (33) The period between and including these reigns, therefore, corresponds to the likely range for all known Khmer Harihara images. Of the total corpus of approximately twenty-three inscriptions that contain definite or probable references to Harihara (under a variety of epithets), at least four belong to the twenty-year reign of Isanavaraman I; nine others probably also date to the seventh and eighth centuries. The other eleven span the period from 881 to the late thirteenth or early fourteenth centuries. In other words, more references to, and images of, Harihara appear during a two-century span of the Preangkorian period than occur over the c ourse of the six centuries of the Angkorian period that follow.

The 'politics' of gods: Isanavarman and Khmer kingship of the Preangkorian period

The Preangkorian epigraphic references to Harihara provide little explanation for the unusual popularity this deity enjoyed at that time. Most simply commemorate the foundation of images and temples or record, like an inventory, gifts made in honour of the god. A few, however, do provide other types of information. Examined in their larger historic and geographic context, these inscriptions offer clues as to the function and symbolism of images of Visnu, Siva and Harihara in Preangkorian civilisation.

In many cases Harihara is mentioned in association with other gods. This can be seen in several inscriptions that belong to the reign of Isanavarman I, two of which mention Harihara dedications made in association with various forms of Siva (in each case including a linga) and one of which is associated with a linga and an image of Visnu. (34) Two other approximately contemporary inscriptions also suggest a mixed context. It is clear from these and other inscriptions left by Isanavarman and his immediate successors that worship of Siva prevailed at Sambor Prei Kuk during the seventh century. (35) Harihara, usually mentioned in association with Siva, was an important component of his dedications; Visnu, on the other hand, is mentioned only infrequently. These Siva-oriented dedications are the opposite of the tendency in the south, where dedications are dominated by Visnu images, with very few epigraphic references to Siva and some Siva lingas that are difficult to date. How can we explain this distinct geograp hic pattern and the importance of Harihara images during the middle to late seventh century?

The idea of the equivalence of king and god is a frequent feature of royal panegyrics in the epigraphy of Cambodia (and throughout the Indic world) and is stated repeatedly in the inscriptions associated with Isanavarman. The stele of Vat Po (K.22) clearly places Harihara and Isanavarman in an analogous or parallel relationship. The first stanza is an invocation to the victorious Hara and Acyuta, who unite for the good of other beings. The second stanza similarly praises Isanavarman as triumphant, for he carries the earth like the serpent Sesa. Here, both Harihara and Isanavarman are represented simultaneously as conquerors and protectors. Inscription K.440 from Sambor Prei Kuk describes the god Prahasitesvara as victorious and follows with a panegyric to Isanavarman that emphasises his physical beauty, good actions and military exploits. Similarly, K.80 describes Siva and Isanavarman as victorious and then compares them as masters of the earth. A tenth-century inscription from Koh Ker states that Siva compos ed a portion of the king; this is reminiscent of similar statements regarding Visnu. (36)

Jan Gonda has analysed the close relationship in Indian kingship between the ruler and Visnu, both of whom are protectors of the world who defend their followers and 'punish the wicked'. Basing his discussion on Vedic texts, the epics, and the Puranas (many of which were known among the ancient Khmer), Gonda points out that 'by identifying himself with Visnu the king is able to conquer the worlds'. The ruler is even said to consist of a 'portion' of Visnu. Kamaleswar Bhattacharya uses this same evidence to argue that Visnu was identified with Khmer kings and that the eight-armed image from Phnom Da represents a king in the guise of Visnu as guardian of the eight regions of the cosmos. (37)

Visnu, when not represented in the form of one of his avatars, was usually depicted in Khmer art as a world sovereign or cakravartin, wearing the royal mitre and an elaborately folded sampot (a garment consisting of a rectangular cloth wrapped around the waist and tied in front). The attributes held in Visnu's four hands are constant throughout the duration of Khmer art -- the conch (or sankha, upper left), the disc (or cakra, upper right), the earth ball (or bhumi, lower right), and the mace or club (or gada, lower left). The mace and cakra were power symbols; the conch seemed to embody fertility (Gonda notes that it resembles the vulva) and may have functioned as an apotropaic emblem; and the ball, representing the earth, probably referred to Visnu's powers of creation and preservation, duties that were also expected of earthly sovereigns. (38) It is also likely that Visnu, a deity that developed as a synthesis of apotheosized Indian heroes, appealed strongly to indigenous Southeast Asian religious traditio ns centred around ancestor worship. (39)

Siva, however, was even more intimately tied to Khmer kingship than Visnu. According to Paul Mus, Siva became assimilated into indigenous chthonic cults in India and Southeast Asia. Lingas, which represented the union of the king and Siva, were an expression of 'old territorial rituals in which the materialisation of the god of the soil, in the person of a dynastic ancestor, expressed the contract, defined in time and space, of the group with its territory'. (40) Coedes has written extensively on the nature of Khmer 'personal cults' in which kings and members of the royal family were equated with deities. (41) This is a complicated subject and cannot be dealt with fully here; suffice it to say, however, that Siva lingas seem to have become established as a specifically royal emblem during the Preangkorian period and in 802 Jayavarman II is supposed to have performed a ritual that preserved his royal power or essence in a linga that was later known as the 'devaraja'. (42)

O. W. Wolters has, moreover, argued that an important aspect of 'Khmer "Hinduism"' during the seventh century was asceticism as it related to the worship of Siva, the arch-ascetic. Michael Vickery has been highly critical of the concept of 'Khmer Hinduism' as conceived primarily by Wolters but also developed by George Coedes and Kamaleswar Bhattacharya. In particular, he contends that Walters' reliance on Sanskrit inscriptions (to the exclusion of those in Old Khmer) led him to exaggerate the importance of Saivite devotionalism (bhakti) and asceticism in his formulation of 'Khmer Hinduism'. Vickery argues that these concepts are 'in fact mentioned in very few contexts, which may be little more than formalistic phraseology preceding the important organisational details of the Khmer text'. (43)

While it may be true that the term bhakti is rare, the epigraphic evidence adduced by Wolters and by Bhattacharya combined with the vast corpus of large iconic stone images indicate that, at least for the Khmer elite, Hindu deities played a central role in not only their religion, but also perhaps in a perception that they were participating in a larger 'Hindu world'. (44) Wolters does not use this term to refer to 'the actual world of regional polities in India' or to a self-consciously 'Hindu' identity, but rather to describe a self-perception that the Khmer were participating in 'the world of the gods and heroes as it is set forth in Indian sacred literature and perhaps, above all, in the Mahabharata. . .' It should also be pointed out in this regard that there is epigraphic evidence to indicate that the Mahabharata, Ramayana and the Puranas were well known among the Khmer elite by the seventh century GE. Likewise, Brahmins -- be they locals or Indians -- versed in the Vedas, Upavedas and the Vedangas are mentioned in an inscription from southern Vietnam that probably dates to the late fifth century. (45) Simply because the references to Hindu deities in Sanskrit inscriptions can be identified as 'formalistic phraseology' does not mean that they were meaningless for the patron, nor does it render them useless to the scholar. The conscious choice of which deities to invoke, and for what reasons, reveals something of the patron's ideals and aspirations with regard to the supernatural realm, even if such decisions do not necessarily reflect widespread practices at all levels of society.

Having said this, in arguing that Hinduism among the Khmer was a religious experience that was as comprehensible to peasants as it was to the elite, Wolters may indeed be overstating its relevance to Khmer society as a whole. Information about the common people and their religious beliefs and practices is scarce and it is difficult to disentangle so-called 'indigenous' or 'folk' elements from imported Indian ideas. Nidhi Aeusriwongse has argued that at the village level, worship was not so much oriented around the universal gods of Hinduism (Siva, Visnu, etc.), which may have had a stronger appeal for Khmer royalty and elite, but rather around local deities that were syncretised with these gods to varying degrees from place to place. It was, he suggests, a common belief in ancestral spirits -- as well as these syncretic local deities -- at all levels of Khmer society that generated some measure of solidarity. Wolters also alludes to a synthesis of Hinduism and local Khmer beliefs that prevented a 'religious w edge' from being driven between the elite and the general population. His use of the term 'Khmer Hinduism' is meant to underscore the fact that "'Hinduism" in Cambodia was not just the Indian variety transplanted.' (46) Aside from this reservation -- that Wolters may exaggerate the degree to which Sanskritic Hinduism was a 'popular' religion among the early Khmer - I maintain, in contrast to Vickery, that Wolters' characterisation of seventh-century 'Khmer Hinduism' remains a valid and useful concept.

Based on a number of inscriptions that attest to the ideal, if not always the actual practice, of asceticism among the Khmer elite and royal advisors, Wolters concludes that the king's 'abnormal powers of leadership' were in part dependent on 'his ascetic efforts in devotion to Siva.' Isanavarman I, for example, is said to have 'taken pleasure in the company of sages' and his son Bhavavarman II is at one point described as 'possessing unshakable self-control as a result of his austerities.' (47) Thus Siva, like Visnu, embodied characteristics that were integral to the Khmer concept of sovereignty.

Despite the absence of anthropomorphic Siva images in early Khmer art, the ascetic nature of Siva was nevertheless indicated on sculptures of Harihara, particularly on the image of Asram Maha Rosei with its obvious ascetic's hairstyle and tiger-skin (upon which Siva is said to have meditated). Indeed, Harihara may have represented an ideal form of king who encompassed in one unified form two very different conceptions of sovereignty that were associated individually with Visnu and Siva. That this symbolism persisted to some degree through the Angkorian period, while at the same time images of Harihara seem to have fallen out of favour, is attested by two inscriptions that suggest that the king was himself composed of the two halves or attributes of Harihara. (48)

A concrete link is in fact made between Isanavarman and Harihara in the dated Sanskrit inscription of Vat Chakret (K.60/626-7) from the vicinity of Ba Phnom in southern Cambodia. It records the consecration of a statue of Harihara by a local ruler or general under Isanavarman who erected the image to increase his glory and commemorate a military victory over the village or town of Tamrapura. The inscription is clear that this 'master [isvara] of Tamrapura' had long since reduced three other areas to 'ornaments on his feet'. (49) In other words, there is a clear connection between the erection of an image of Harihara and the imposition of political authority in the name, or at least invoking the name, of the king. As we have already seen, this idea can perhaps be seen earlier in the erection of lingas by Bhavavarman I and Citrasena or Mahendravarman, who seem to have made these foundations in association with military ventures.

Thus, like other Khmer images (lingas and Visnus), sculptures of Harihara -- particularly during the seventh century and the reign of Isanavarman -- seem to have represented the king and the presence of his authority. This is not to say that images of Harihara were 'portraits' or physical likenesses of Khmer kings. (50) Rather, they served as divine analogues for the concentration of royal power -- a power that was legitimated, sanctified and maintained through this very association with the gods. It should be borne in mind that elite-sponsored 'religious' foundations were an important means of consolidating control over an area and, consequently, were instrumental in the development of centralised kingdoms in early Southeast Asia. (51) Temples were often the focal points of settlements and they served as important centres of education (for the elite), the arts and the redistribution of local agricultural production. Thus they served cultural and economic functions that brought some degree of stability to a society that tended to fragment as a result of shifting allegiances and compet ition between regional leaders. (52)


The dedication of images of Visnu, Siva and Harihara in early Southeast Asia cannot be adequately explained as a by-product of trade. When situated within their historical context, it becomes clear that at least among the Khmer, these deities were consciously adopted, employed and worshipped by the elite in a particular 'style of rule'. (53) During the fifth and sixth centuries the two conceptions of kingship rooted in the symbolism of Visnu and Siva were associated with different regions of the Khmer lands, the south and north respectively. This general pattern persisted during the seventh century, though in diminishing -- or increasingly mixed or integrated -- form. Numerous important images of Visnu and his avatars were erected during the middle to late seventh or even early eighth centuries at Phnom Da in southern Cambodia. Meanwhile, in the north, the dedications of Isanavarman were predominantly oriented towards Siva in the form of lingas and, at his capital (Isanapura), under the particular epithets of Prahasitesvara and Gambhiresvara. Isanavarman's interest in Siva follows that of his predecessors in north-central Cambodia; his father, Mahendravarman and uncle, Bhavavarman I were the 'Dangrek chieftains' known to have dedicated numerous lingas in what are today northern Cambodia and adjacent areas of Thailand and Laos. Vickery emphasises the peaceful succession and continuity of this dynastic line which, beginning with Bhavavarman I, seems to have maintained its core realm in the area around Sambor Prei Kuk in what is now Kompong Thom. (54)

It is also during the period of Isanavarman and his immediate successors, however, that the first images and epigraphical mention of Harihara appear. As noted above, at least four of these inscriptions belong to the roughly twenty-year reign of Isanavarman I. Likewise, at least three images of Harihara would seem to date to the seventh century, with what is probably the earliest extant Khmer image of Harihara -- that of Sambor Prei Kuk -- firmly associated with Isanavarman's northern capital at Isanapura. It is probably no coincidence that the only two inscriptions to mention dedications of all three deities (Visnu, Siva and Harihara) -- those of Vat Po (K.22) and Pona Hor (K.21) -- most likely date to the 620s and the 630s respectively or, in other words, to the reigns of Isanavarman and (in the case of the latter) perhaps to the reign of his son and successor Bhavavarman II.

This sudden interest in Harihara during the middle of the seventh century corresponds to the political interests or, perhaps more accurately, the territorial aspirations of Isanavarman, Bhavavarman II and Jayavarman I, all of whom seem to have maintained similar realms with control strongly held in Kompong Thom (and Prey Veng) but 'decreasingly exerted toward the south and southwest where local elites merely evoked [their] suzerainty while maintaining their own local authority'. The distribution of the inscriptions of Isanavarman and Jayavarman indicate, as Vickery makes clear, that both rulers endeavoured 'to maintain administrative control over certain coastal areas which would have been ports of Funan'. He even suggests that Isanavarman 'maintained'

Funan and was himself responsible for some of the missions to China that are recorded as having taken place during the period corresponding to his reign. (55)

The inscriptions of Vat Po and Pona Hor were located in the far south and are reflective of Isanavarman and Bhavavarman II's efforts to impose their authority in these areas. In order to do so they invoked not only Siva, the deity associated with their capital, but also Visnu, a deity that was much more popular in the region they were seeking to control. It should also be remembered that it was this area along the coast that gave rise to many of the early images of Visnu, apparently the first Indian deity to be represented anthropomorphically in stone in Southeast Asia. It was probably the four-armed mitred image of Visnu that served as the template for the new image of Harihara. This may explain the fact that the iconography of Visnu tends to be dominant in Khmer images of Harihara, a deity that seems to have arisen in an initially more Siva-oriented context at Isanapura. (Similarly, throughout Indian history, Harihara was most often employed in a Saivite context.)

Harihara, then, served as a visual expression of the integration of varying regional styles of rule rooted in the symbolism and power of Siva and Visnu. This would also explain the relatively large numbers of Harihara images that appeared throughout Cambodia during the second half of the seventh century and the first half of the eighth, a period that on the basis of 'steady investment in art and architecture', Vickery convincingly characterises as one of consolidation, 'political stability and continuing wealth accumulation'. (56) All of this was built on foundations initially laid by Isanavarman and revealed by his extensive building programme and large corpus of inscriptions, both all the more remarkable for being the earliest securely dated Khmer material.

(1.) The most extensive and important study of the early Visnu images is Stanley J. O'Connor, Hindu gods of peninsular Siam (Ascona: Artibus Asiae, 1972). Other important studies include Pierre Dupont, 'Visnu mitres de l'Indochine occidentale Bulletin de l'Ecole Francaise d'Extreme-Orient [henceforth BEFEO], 41 (1941): 233-54; Jean Boisselier, 'Le Visnu de Tjibuaja (Java Occidental) et la statuaire du Sud-Est Asiatique Artibus Asiae, 22, 3 (1959): 210-26; idem., The heritage of Thai sculpture (New York: Weatherhill, 1975), pp. 71, 97-101; and Robert L. Brown, 'Indian art transformed: The earliest sculptural styles of Southeast Asia', in Panels of the VIIth World Sanskrit Conference, ed. Johannes Bronkhorst (Leiden: Brill, 1992), pp. 40-53.

(2.) Nadine Dalsheimer and Pierre-Yves Manguin, 'Visnu mitres et reseaux marchands en Asie du Sud-Est: Nouvelles donnees archeologiques sur le ler millenaire apr. J.-C.', BEFEO, 85 (1998): 87-116.

(3.) Michael Vickery has argued that 'kings in fact play a relatively small role in the pre-Angkor corpus, which is dominated by other ruling class figures'. According to Vickery, approximately 65 Preangkorian inscriptions, of the total corpus of about 140, include a name that is usually associated with a king or queen. He argues that at least until the reign of Jayavarman I (ca. 657-81?), so-called Khmer 'kings' may more accurately be referred to as 'chiefs' and that they may have held primarily ritual rather than political functions; Michael Vickery, Society, economics, and politics in Pre-Angkor Cambodia: The 7th-8th centuries (Tokyo: The Centre for East Asian Cultural Studies for Unesco, the Toyo Bunko, 1998), pp. 84-92, 177-89, 321-4, 366-9; quotation from p. 322.

(4.) The composite deity commonly referred to as 'Harihara' is mentioned in Preangkorian Sanskrit and Khmer inscriptions under a variety of epithets including Sankara-Narayana, Sankara-Acyuta, HanSankara and Sambhu-Visnu. In Sanskrit 'Hara' is an epithet of Siva that can be translated as 'Seizer' or 'Destroyer'. 'Hari an epithet for an aspect of Visnu (but in the ancient Indian context also used for other gods, including Siva and Indra) means 'yellow, reddish brown, or green', though as Gosta Liebert points out, it is often 'hardly correctly' translated as 'the remover of sorrow' or 'he who gives joy'; Gosta Liebert, Iconographic dictionary of the Indian religions: Hinduism -- Buddhism -lain ism (Leiden: Brill, 1976), p. 100, and M. A. Dhaky, Harihara in Cambodian inscriptions and hieratic art', in Madhua: Recent researches in Indian archaeology and art history, ed. M.S. Nagaraja Rao (Delhi: Again Kala Prakashan, 1981), pp.263-6.

(5.) See, for example, Lawrence Palmer Briggs, 'The syncretism of religions in Southeast Asia, especially in the Khmer Empire', Journal of the American Oriental Society, 71, 4 (1951): 230-49; and Marguerite F. Adiceam, 'Les images de Siva dans l'Inde du sud V. -- Harihara Arts Asiatiques, 13 (1966): 83-98. A different view that emphasises Visnu's hierarchically inferior position on the proper left side of Harihara is in Raju Kalidos, Vamacara Visnu in Hindu iconography: A problem in sociological values', East and West, 44, 2-4 (1994): 275-91.

(6.) There is also no evidence in the Preangkorian context to suggest an interest in an androgynous form of Harihara that united Siva in male form with a female aspect of Visnu (Mohini). The Mohini myths that appear in the Mahabharata and several of the Puranas are often used, somewhat problematically, to explain the origin of Indian Harihara images; Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty, Women, androgynes, and other mythical beasts (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980), pp. 326-30. In Preangkorian art, depictions of androgynous deities are rare. lam, moreover, unaware of any half-male/half-female images, particularly among early Indian or Southeast Asian sculpture, that can be identified as Harihara with any certainty.

As Liebert points out, it is virtually impossible to prove that androgynous images represent Harihara and not other deities like Ardhanarisvara, who combines Siva and Sakti in one bodily form; Liebert, Iconographic dictionary, p. 101. For more on Mohini and Ardhanarisvara, see Raju Kalidos, 'Visnu's Mohini incarnation: An iconographical and sexological study East and West, 36, 1-3 (1986): 183-204; Ellen Goldberg, The lord who is half woman: Ardhanarisvara in Indian and feminist perspective (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2002); and Kamaleswar Bhattacharya, Les religions brahmaniques dans l'ancien Cambodge d'apres l'epigraphie et l'iconographie (Paris: Ecole Francaise d'Extreme-Orient, 1961), pp. 92-3.

(7.) Melford Spiro, 'Religion: Problems of definition and explanation', in Anthropological approaches to the study of religion, ed. Michael Banton (London: Tavistock Publications, 1966), pp. 105-6.

(8.) The literature dealing with the nature and mechanisms of 'Indianization' in Southeast Asia is extensive. Some useful general and theoretical studies include: I. W. Mabbett, 'The "Indianization" of Southeast Asia (I): Reflections on the prehistoric sources', Journal of Southeast Asian Studies [henceforth JSEAS], 8, 1 (1977): 1-14; idem., 'The "Indianisation" of Southeast Asia (II): Reflections on the historical sources', JSEAS, 7, 2 (1977): 143-61; idem., 'The "Indianization" of Mainland Southeast Asia: A reappraisal', in Living a life in accord with Dhamma: Papers in honor of Professor Jean Boisselier on his eightieth birthday, ed. Natasha Eilenberg et al. (Bangkok: Silpakorn University, 1997), pp. 342-55; Adhir Chakravarti, 'Indianization of South East Asia -- A re-examination', Journal of Ancient Indian History, 15, 1-2 (1985-6): 229-61; Hermann Kulke, 'Indian colonies, Indianization or cultural convergence?: Reflections on the changing image of India's role in South-East Asia', in Onderzoek in Zuidoos t-Azie: Agenda's voor de jaren negentig, ed. Henk Schulte-Nordholt (Leiden: Vakgroep Talen en Culturen van Zuidoost-Azie en Oceanie, Rijksuniversiteit te Leiden, 1990), pp. 8-32; and Monica L. Smith, "Indianization" from the Indian point of view: Trade and cultural contacts with Southeast Asia in the early first millennium C.E.', Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, 42, 1 (1999): 1-26.

(9.) J. Ph. Vogel, 'The earliest Sanskrit inscriptions of Java in Publicaties van den Oudheidkundige Dienst in Nederlandsch-Indie, 1 (1925): 15-35; quotation from p. 25. See also George Coedes, The Indianized states of Southeast Asia, ed. Walter F. Vella, trans. Susan Brown Cowing (Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1968), pp. 53-4, W. F. Stutterheim, 'De voetafdrukken van Purnawarman Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde van Nederlandsch-Indie, 89 (1932): 288; and Hariani Santiko, 'The religion of King Purnavarman of Tarumanagara,' in Fruits of inspiration: Studies in honour of Prof. J.G. de Casparis, ed. Marijke J. Klokke and Karel R. Van Kooij (Groningen: Egbert Forsten, 2001), pp. 423-33.

(10.) George Coedes, 'Deux inscriptions sanskrites du Fou-nan BEFEO, 31 (1931): 1-8, and Coedes, Indianized states, p. 60. The 'K' designation refers to the official inventory of inscriptions associated with Cambodia (whether in Sanskrit or Khmer).

(11.) The Chinese terms 'Funan' and 'Zhenla' (or 'Chenla') are found in records of embassies and 'tribute-bearing' or 'trade' missions from polities in Southeast Asia to the Chinese imperial court. While these terms undoubtedly refer to actual polities and may be Chinese transliterations of ancient Southeast Asian place-names, it is virtually impossible with current knowledge to link them precisely to geographical locations or local toponyms. As Claude Jacques has argued, these terms should be abandoned in favour of locally attested place-names found in the inscriptions; Claude Jacques, '"Funan" "Zhenla": The reality concealed by these Chinese views of Indochina', in Early South East Asia: Essays in archaeology, history and historical geography, ed. Ralph B. Smith and William Watson (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979), pp. 371-9. Charles Higham suggests, however, that terms like 'Funan' and 'Zhenla' can be useful, but only if they are 'understood to mean an area' and not specific polities; Charles Higha m, The archaeology of mainland Southeast Asia: From 10,000 BCE to the fall of Angkor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), p. 255. The nature of these two polities has been the subject of much recent rethinking. In addition to the sources just mentioned, some important examples include Yoshiaki Ishizawa, 'Chinese chronicles of lst-5th-century AD Funan, southern Cambodia in South East Asia & China: Art, interaction & commerce, ed. Rosemary Scott and John Guy (London: University of London, Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art, 1995), pp. 11-31; Claude Jacques, 'China and ancient Khmer history in the same volume, pp. 32-40; idem., 'Le pays khmer avant Angkor Journal des Savants (Jan.-Feb. 1986): 59-95; idem., 'Funan, Zhenla, Srivijaya in Les apports de l'archeologie a la connaissance des anciens etats en Thailande, 3e Symposium franco-thai, 11-13 December 1995 (Bangkok: Silpakorn University, 1995), pp. 14-23; Michael Vickery, 'What and where was Chenla? Recherches nouvelles sur le Cambodge, ed. Fran cois Bizot (Paris: Ecole Francaise d'Extreme-Orient, 1994), pp. 197-212; and idem., Society, economics, and politics, pp. 18-23, 33-47.

(12.) Quotation from Coedes, Indianized states, p.60; Vogel, 'Earliest Sanskrit inscriptions Pp. 28-34.

(13.) Coedes, Indianized states, p. 60; idem., 'A new inscription from Fu-nan', Journal of the Greater India Society, 4 (1937): 117-21. On women as 'people of prowess', see O. W. Wolters, History, culture, and region in Southeast Asian perspectives, rev. edn (Ithaca: Cornell University Southeast Asia Program, 1999), pp. 169-70.

(14.) I am restricting this discussion to images published before the 1970s and the subsequent flooding of the antiquities market with fake and unprovenanced Khmer sculpture, including numerous depictions of Visnu and Harihara. Aside from the important ethical issues involved with publishing such images that are almost certainly either looted or fake, unprovenanced images are of very limited use to a study such as this which depends to a great deal on the original geographic placement and distribution of sculpture and epigraphy. Although the knowledgeable French art dealer Jean-Michel Beurdeley estimated in 1992 that 80-90 per cent of the Khmer art that has come onto the market in recent years has been modern forgeries or fakes, I am not excluding the possibility that important genuine pieces of Preangkorian sculpture may have recently come to light and may now reside in museums or private collections outside of the well-known museum holdings in Cambodia, Thailand and France.

(15.) In his magisterial study of Preangkorian sculpture, Dupont suggests three possibilities: a 'Siva'(?) head from Angkor Borei, the 'Siva' of Kompong Chain Kau, and the Siva of Trapeang Phong found in Roluos near Angkor; only the identification of the last one is secure. The earliest Khmer images of Siva have two arms, as opposed to Visnu's four; Dupont, Statuaire preangkorienne, pp. 56-7, 119-21; pl. XIB, XXB, XLIIA.

(16.) Louis Malleret, L'archeologie du Delta du Mekong, vol. 1 (Paris: Ecole Francaise d'Extreme-Orient, 1959), pp. 377-88. Following Malleret's typology, Stanley J. O'Connor discusses the lingas from Peninsular Thailand in 'Si Chon: An early settlement in peninsular Thailand; Journal of the Siam Society [henceforth ISS], 56, 1 (1968): 14-16 and 'Some early Siva lingas in Nakhon Si Thammarat, peninsular Siam; ISS, 71, 1-2 (1983): 1-5. Robert Brown summarises the complexities of developing a chronology for lingas in 'Indian art transformed; pp. 47-9. As Vickery points out, 'only three or four inscriptions have survived from what might have been pre-7th century Funan in the south of Cambodia and Vietnam' (Society, economics, and politics, p. 37). Two of these are discussed above.

(17.) On the basis of its script, Coedes considered K.365 to be contemporary with Gunavarman's inscription from roughly the second half of the fifth century; Georges Coedes, 'Nouvelles donnees sur les origines du royaume khmer. La stele de Vat Luong Kau, pres du Vat Phu', BEFEO, 48, 1 (1956): 209-20; see also Claude Jacques, 'Notes sur l'inscription de la stele de Vat Luong Kau,' Journal Asiatique, 250, 2 (1962): 249-56. K.365 refers to a maharajadhiraja ('a great supreme king of kings') named Devanika, 'who "came from a distant country" to be 'installed in supreme royal power ... by the grace of Sri Lingaparvata, the mountain of Wat Phu' (Vickery, Society, economics, and politics, p. 73). Another 'mountain of the linga' may have been located in southern Vietnam, but it is not mentioned until much later, in a twelfth-century inscription from Phnom Svan (K.418); ibid., p. 38.

(18.) Dupont, Statuaire preangkorienne, pp. 75-6. For an overview and list of these inscriptions, see Vickery, Society, economics, and politics, pp. 74-5; the inscriptions found in eastern and northeastern Thailand are enumerated in M. C. Subhadradis Diskul, 'The newly discovered inscription of Mahendravarman in Northeastern Thailand; in Eilenberg et al. ed., Living a life, pp. 131-5.

(19.) Coedes, Indianized states, pp. 68-9; Vickery, Society, economics, and politics, p. 79.

(20.) I am aware of the recent article by Emma Bunker in which she places one Harihara image in the fifth century. While her discussion is interesting, I am, for reasons already stated, excluding recently published unprovenanced pieces. See Emma C. Bunker, 'Harihara images of the Pre-Angkor period in Cambodia', Arts of Asia, 31, 2 (2001): 91-107.

(21.) Virginia Dofflemyer, 'The ancient city of Si Thep: A study of the extant Brahmanical sculpture (5th-10th centuries)' (Ph.D. diss., University of Southern California, 1982), p. 138, n. 11. However, as one of my readers reminded me, because Si Thep has not been completely excavated (particularly the Klang Nok area) and looting has been a problem at the site, we cannot be certain that Harihara is indeed 'totally absent'.

(22.) Harihara, under the epithet Sankara-Narayana, is mentioned only once in Chain epigraphy: Face B of the Glai Lamov Stele (C.24/801 CE) commemorates the foundation of an image of Sankara-Narayana; see M. Abel Bergaigne, Inscriptions sanscrites du Cambodge (Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1893), pp. 227, 230 (no. 23); Jean Boisselier, La statuaire du Champa: Recherches sur les cultes et l'iconographie (Paris: Ecole Francaise d'Extreme-Orient, 1963), p. 420, note for p. 70.

(23.) Dupont, Statuaire preangkorienne, p. 214; see pls. XXA and XXXIIIA-XXXIVA. In cases where sculpture has been found in the vicinity of a temple (and even in these two cases in which the images were found inside the cella), it is difficult to know if they were actually made at the same time as the sanctuary, or whether they were subsequently brought there.

(24.) Rita Regnier, 'Note sur l'evolution du chignon (jata) dans la statuaire preangkorienne: Reflexions a propos d'une tete de Harihara provenant de Prasat Phum Prasat, au Musee National de Phnom Penh Arts Asiatiques, 14 (1966): 32-4. Regnier (pp. 32-3) assigns the image to the style of Kompong Preah, dated by Dupont to the first half of the eighth century; Dupont, Statuaire preangkorienne, p. 180. For the inscription, see Inscriptions du Cambodge [henceforth IC], ed. George Coedes (Paris: E. de Boccard, 1937-66), vol. 6, p. 72; all inscriptions in this collection are numbered according to the system mentioned above.

(25.) Dupont, Statuaire preangkorienne, pp. 25-42, p1. IIA-B, and Sculpture of Angkor and ancient Cambodia: Millennium of glory, ed. Helen Jessup and Thierry Zephir (Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 1997), pp. 164-5 (no. 16). For the dating of the Phnom Da Style, see Dupont, pp. 22-5, 42, 48; the discussion by Codes upon which Dupont based his arguments is in IC, vol. 2, pp. 155-6. According to Dupont (pp. 113, 150), there may have been some overlap between the end of the Style of Phnom Da and the beginnings of the next style, the 'Style of Sambor which he thought probably occupied the first half of the seventh century, beginning sometime between 610/615 and 630. The head of the broken statue is in the Musee Guimet, Paris and the body is in the National Museum, Phnom Penh; Dupont, pl. VIIIB and XIA.

(26.) Boisselier expressed doubts regarding Dupont's chronology in his 'La statuaire preangkorienne et Pierre Dupont', Arts Asiatiques, 6, 1 (1959): 61-2; idem., Trends in Khmer art, trans. Natasha Eilenberg and Melvin Elliott (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Southeast Asia Program, 1989), p. 27; and personal communication with Boisselier cited in Kamaleswar Bhattacharya, 'Hari Kambujendra', Artibus Asiae, 27, 1/2 (1964): 78, n. 25. Towards the end of his career, however, Boisselier seems to have strengthened his resolve that the style of Phnom Da must date much later than Dupont thought. In a comparatively recent Italian publication, he placed the Phnom Da images in the late seventh or eighth century and argued that the style of Sambor Prei Kuk constitutes the earliest Preangkorian art; Boisselier, II Sud-Est asiatico (Turin: Storia Universale dell' Arte, 1986), pp. 27-8.

(27.) Nancy H. Dowling, 'A new date for the Phnom Da images and its implications for early Cambodia Asian Perspectives, 38, 1 (1999): 59. Dowling's re-dating of the style of Phnom Da is based on new observations regarding a jewelled band motif consisting of alternating ovals and rectangles (known as 'la bande a chaton's) and a double-lotus base, which probably date to en. 650 and ca. 616-35 respectively. The revision may also shift some of the so-called 'statuaire du Tchen-La' -- assigned by Dupont to the styles of Prei Kmeng (seventh century) and Prasat Andet (mid-seventh to early eighth centuries) -- to the eighth century, but this remains to be argued.

(28.) Two almost identical inscriptions from the southern group, one from the door jamb of the east door of the external enclosure (K.440) and the other from the mandapa of tower S2 (K.442), contain lengthy panegyrics to King Isanavarman and commemorate the erection of a gold image of Prahasitesvara, the 'lord of laughter', presumably an epithet of Siva. They go on to mention several other images (pratima) enshrined by the king, including four (in stanza XXXI in K.440) of Siva. Nandin, Harihara (?), and another whose name is effaced. Subsequent stanzas (XXXII-XXXIV) also list a gold linga, an image of Brahama, another Siva, a Siva Nataraja, a Sarasvati and a silver Nandin. Apparently none of these images has been found (IC, vol. 4, p. 11). The southern group (Groups) seems to be the earliest of the three and shows the most internal consistency. The central group (Group C) was probably built towards the end of the seventh century. The northern group (Group N) consists of monuments dedicated over a long period of time, from perhaps the sixth century well into the Angkorian period. The earliest structure at Sambor Prei Kuk probably belongs to the north group (N17); ibid., pp. 3-35. See also Dupont, Statuaire preangkorienne, p. 83; Lawrence Palmer Briggs, The ancient Khmer Empire, Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, n.s. 41, 1 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1951), p.74; Jacques Dumarcay and Michael Smithies, Cultural sites of Burma, Thailand, and Cambodia (Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1995), pp. 73-9; and Jacques Dumarcay and Pascal Royere, Cambodian architecture eighth to thirteenth centuries, trans. Michael Smithies (Leiden: Brill, 2001), pp. 39-44. Philippe Stern has dated the central temple of Group C to the ninth century; Philippe Stern, 'Le style du Kulen (Decor architectural et statuaire) BEFEO, 38 (1938): 139-41. The historical circumstances surrounding Bhavavarman II are complex and mysterious; for discussion, see Dupont, Statuaire preangkorienne, pp. 89-93; Vickery, 'What and where was Chenla? p. 203, n. 12; idem., 'What to do about The Khmers ISEAS, 27, 6 (1996): 392; idem., Society, economics, and politics, pp. 21-5, 328-34, 340-4. The two inscriptions that clearly refer to Bhavavarman II are K.79 and K. 1150. Jacques devotes a lengthy discussion to these inscriptions and the light they shed on Isanavarman and Bhavavarman II in 'Pays khmer avant Angkor', pp. 79-82.

(29.) On the dating see Dupont, Statuaire preangkorienne, pp. 150-5, and Jean Boisselier, 'Une statue feminine inedite du style de Sambor', Arts Asiatiques, 2, 1(1955): 18-34. It is worth noting that N1 was the central shrine of the group and N9 and N10 were corner sanctuaries flanking it. In other words, N1, N9 and N10, and presumably the Harihara and Durga found in or near these sanctuaries, occupied the same central platform. If the northern group was built in a series of phases beginning in the early seventh century, it would make sense that the central shrines would be early; however, it is also possible that they were rebuilt and new images were installed, but based on the available epigraphic evidence, this probably could not have happened after the reign of Jayavarman I. It is therefore highly unlikely that these images date later than the third quarter of the seventh century.

(30.) Zephir, perhaps following Boisselier, has advocated the use of the more flexible term 'school' over style; Thierry Zephir, 'khmer art in Maud Girard-Geslan et al., Art of Southeast Asia, trans. J. A. Underwood (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1997), p.161 Boisselier, Heritage of Thai sculpture, p.63. It must be pointed out that Dupont did allow for overlap between his stylistic groups (see, for example, Dupont, Statuaire preangkorienne, pp. 51, 113, 156, 167). Some important studies of Southeast Asian polity formation and development that have informed my discussion here include Robert Heine-Geldern, Conceptions of state and kingship in Southeast Asia (Ithaca: Cornell University Southeast Asia Program Data Paper, 1956); Wolters, History, culture, and region, pp. 27-40; Higham, Archaeology of mainland Southeast Asia; Hermann Kulke, 'The early and the imperial kingdom in Southeast Asian history; in Southeast Asia in the 9th to 14th centuries, ed. David G. Marr and Anthony C. Milner (Singapore: Institute of Sou theast Asian Studies, 1986), pp. 1-22; Jan Wisseman Christie, 'Negara, mandala, and despotic state: Images of early Java; in the same volume, pp. 65-94; idem., 'State formation and early maritime Southeast Asia: A consideration of the theories and data; Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, 151 (1995): 235-88.

(31.) Dupont, Statuaire preangkorienne, pp. 166-79 and p1. 33A, 34A, 35A-B. The four images that Dupont included in the transitional period of Prasat Andet are the type-image, the Harihara of Prasat Andet (Kompong Thom Province, the heart of the realm of Isanavarman and his successors); that of Kompong Speu (southern Cambodia); that of Trapeang Phong (Siem Reap Province); and a head of Harihara that Louis Malleret found along the approach to the sanctuary of Linh-son tu at the site of Phnom Bathe in present-day southern Vietnam. See Malleret, Archologie du Delta du Mekong, vol. 1 (text), pp. 409-10 and vol. 1 (plates), pl. LXXXVIIb. Boisselier's comprehensive study of Khmer sculpture published in 1955 did not recognise the Prasat Andet style at all; instead, he subsumed it under his third style, combining those of Prei Kmeng and Kompong Preah (Boisselier, La statuaire khmere, p. 15). In his handbook of Khmer art and archaeology published in 1966, he recognised the Prasat Andet style but argued that it was pro bably contemporary with the beginnings of the Kompong Preah style; Boisselier, Le Cambodge, manuel d'archeologie d'Extrema-Orient, premiere partie Asie du Sud-Est, tome I (Paris: A. et J. Picard, 1966), p.242. In a subsequent article, he refined the stylistic chronology of Preangkorian sculpture by pushing back the style of Prasat Andet to the first half of the eighth century, arguing that it began around 700; idem., 'The Avalokitesvara in the Museum's Wilstach Collection; Bulletin of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 77, 333 (1981): 18-21.

(32.) Dupont dated it to the eighth century, but this attribution is made solely on the basis of what he sees as its 'extreme mediocrity' (Dupont, Statuaire preangkorienne, p. 187, pl. 42B). The aforementioned Harihara of Prasat Phum Prasat (Province of Kompong Thorn), dated by inscription to 706 CE, and the Harihara head from Vat Prasat are now in the Musee Guimet de Lyon; a photograph of the latter can be found in Plate XLA.

(33.) The two Angkorian period images of Harihara are (I) the Harihara of Bakong and (2) a head of Harihara that has been alternately dated to the styles of Bakheng (ca. 893-925) and Pre Rup (ca. 947-65). See Jean Boisselier, 'Le Harihara de Bakon BEFEO, 46, 1(1952): 253-6; idem., 'Une tete' angkorienne de Harihara Arts Asiatiques, 44 (1989): 44-9; and Jessup and Zephir ed., Sculpture of Angkor and ancient Cambodia, pp.206-7. Several lesser-known pieces could potentially be added to the ten Preangkorian sandstone images of Harihara mentioned here; these are discussed individually in my dissertation (in progress).

(34.) K.22, K.440, K.926/624; see IC, vol. 3, pp. 143-7; vol. 4, pp. 5-11; vol. 5, pp. 20-2. Two inscriptions from Thma Kre (K.926 and K.927) refer to Sankara-Narayana (Harihara); both date to the seventh century and mark the location of a sanctuary dedicated to Harihara. K.926, carrying a date of 624 (during the reign of Isanavarman), refers to the erection of an image of Harihara and then enumerates gifts of men, women, cows and ricefields to be held in common by Sankara-Narayana (Harihara) and a god named Suvarnalinga (a Siva linga made of gold). The undated stele of Vat Po (K.22) mentions Isanvaraman and records dedications made by a muni (sage or ascetic) named Isanadatta, said to have erected a Harihara and several other images, including a linga and a Visnu. Based on these inscriptions it is clear that worship of Siva and deities associated with him was an important component of the reign of Isanavaraman.

In every case cited, Harihara is mentioned in association with a Siva linga. However, the stele of Vat Po (K.22), with its mention of a Visnu image, does seem to imply a more mixed context.

(35.) K.21/ca. 639, K.107; see IC, vol. 5, pp. 5-6; vol. 6, pp. 38-9; Auguste Barth, Inscriptions sanscrites du Cambodge (Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1885), pp. 2 1-6. Lines 8-13 of K.21 (from Pona Hor) record the dedication of two lingas, a Durga and, although it is not entirely clear from the context, probably an image of Sambhu-Visnu ([approximately equal to]Harihara) as well. Ten lines later an image of Visnu Trailokyasara is also mentioned. The date of this inscription is uncertain (the Khmer portion of the inscription originally began with a date that has not survived). Like K.21, K.107 (found at Prah Thit Khnai Van) suggests a mixed pattern of worship where Harihara was concerned. It lists gifts of lakes or ponds (pin) to several different deities, including Svayambbu (Brahama), Sankara-Narayana and Jayadeva. This undated inscription has been assigned by Coedes to the Preangkorian period, probably the seventh century, on the basis of its orthography; other examples are in IC, pp. 4-5.

(36.) IC, vol. 3, pp. 143-7 (K.22); vol. 4, pp. 7, 9 (K.440); vol. 6, pp. 3-4 (4.80); vol. 1, pp. 58,61 (Koh Ker).

(37.) Gonda, Aspects of early Visnuism, pp. 164-7; Bhattacharya, 'Han Kambujendra,' pp. 72-8.

(38.) Gonda, Aspects of early Visnuism, pp. 96-104; Stanley J. O'Connor has identified this particular configuration as the Janardana or Vasudeva murti (Hindu gods of pen insular Siam, p. 31). Robert Brown has analysed the stylistic and iconographic development of the early Southeast Asian Visnu images in 'The early Visnu images from Southeast Asia and their Indian relationships paper presented at 'Crossroads and commodification: A symposium on Southeast Asian art history', University of Michigan, 25-26 March 2000.

(39.) This development of Visnu from Indian heroes has been discussed chiefly in the context of early Indian images of Visnu Krsna and Vasudeva; see Herbert Hartel, 'Archaeological evidence on the early Vasudeva worship', in Orientalia losephi Tucci memoriae dicata, ed. Gherardo Gnoli and Lionello Lanciotti (Rome: Istituto Italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente, 1985-8), vol. 2, pp. 573-87; Doris Srinivasan, 'Early Vaisnava imagery: Caturvyuha and variant forms; Archives of Asian Art, 32 (1979): 39-54; idem., 'Vaisnava art and iconography at Mathura', in Mathura, the Cultural Heritage, ed. Doris M. Srinivasan (New Delhi: American Institute of Indian Studies, 1989), pp. 38 1-92; idem., Many heads, arms and eyes -- on gin, meaning and form of multiplicity in Indian art (Leiden: Brill, 1997), pp. 211-59. Brown, 'Early Visnu images', briefly deals with these issues in the Southeast Asian context, arguing that the famous 'Chaiya visnu', usually considered the earliest Visnu image in Southeast Asia, is not Visnu at all, but rather Vasudeva-Krsna.

(40.) Paul Mus, India seen from the east: Indian and indigenous cults in Champa, ed. Ian W Mabbett and David P. Chandler, trans. Ian W. Mabbett (Clayton: Monash University Centre of Southeast Asian Studies, 1975), pp. 43-9. Although Mus was writing about the Chain, his words are no less applicable to the Preangkorian Khmer situation.

(41.) See, for instance, George Coedes, Angkor: An introduction (Hong Kong: Oxford University Press, 1963), pp. 22-33.

(42.) The term devaraja as a particular ritual or 'cult' only occurs once in the entire corpus of Khmer epigraphy (K.235/CE 1052), although there may be minor allusions to it in other Angkorian inscriptions; Kamaleswar Bhattacharya, Recherches sur lc vocabulaire des inscriptions sanscrites du Cambodge (Paris: Ecold Francaise d'Extreme-Orient, 1991), pp. 54-5. At any rate, the devaraja is not relevant to a discussion of the Preangkorian period. Some important studies of the devaraja include Ian W. Mabbett, 'Devaraja', Journal of Southeast Asian History, 10 (1969): 202-23; Hermann Kulke, The Devaraja cult, trans.

I. W. Mabbett (Ithaca: Cornell University Southeast Asia Program Data Paper, 1978); and Hiram W. Woodward, Jr, 'Practice and belief in ancient Cambodia: Claude Jacques' Angkor and the Devaraja question', JSEAS, 32, 2 (2001): 249-61.

(43.) O. W. Wolters, 'Khmer "Hinduism" in the seventh century in Smith and Watson ed., Early South East Asia, pp. 427-42. Vickery -- quite rightly, it seems to me -- questions Wolters' emphasis on 'death-wishes' among early Khmer kings (Society, economics, and politics, pp. 170-1). See also Coedes, Indianized states, pp. 14-35; Bhattacharya, Religions brahmaniques; idem., 'Religious speculations in ancient Cambodia', in R.C. Majumdar felicitation volume, ed. Himansu Bhusan Sarkar (Calcutta: Firma K. L. Mukhopadhyay, 1970), pp. 78-97; idem., 'The religions of ancient Cambodia', in Jessup and Zephir ed., Sculpture of Angkor and ancient Cambodia, pp. 34-52.

(44.) Wolters, 'Khmer "Hinduism"', pp. 431-4, 440; idem., History, culture, and region, pp. 109-10; Kamaleswar Bhattacharya, 'The Panacaratra sect in ancient Cambodia', Journal of the Greater India Society, 14, 2 (1955): 111-6; idem., 'Secte des Pasupata dans l'ancien Cambodge', Journal Asiatique, 243, 2 (1955): 479-90. Related issues are discussed in Sheldon Pollock, 'The Sanskrit cosmopolis, 300-1300: Transculturation, vernacularization, and the question of ideology; in Ideology and status of Sanskrit: Contributions to the history of the Sanskrit language, ed. Jan E. M. Houben (Leiden: Brill, 1996), pp. 197-247.

(45.) Wolters, 'Khmer "Hinduism"; pp. 437-8. See Coedes, Indianized states, pp. 60, 74; Thierry Zephir, 'The progress of Rama: The Ramayana in Khmer bas-reliefs of the Angkor period; in Silk and stone: The art of Asia, ed. Jill Tilden (London: Hali Publications Ltd., 1996), p. 83. See also the inscription from Val Kantel (K.359) published in Barth, Inscriptions sanscrites, p. 28 (no. 4); George Coedes, 'Une inscription du sixieme siecle caka', BEFEO, 11 (1911): 393-6; idem., 'Deux inscriptions sanskrites; pp. 5-7, st. 9.

(46.) Wolters, 'Khmer "Hinduism" pp. 437-8; the quotation is from Vickery, Society, economics, and politics, p. 170. Nidhi Aeusriwongse's perspective is found in his 'Devaraja cult and Khmer kingship at Angkor', in Explorations in early Southeast Asian history: The origin of Southeast Asian statecraft, ed. Kenneth R. Hall and John K. Whitmore (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1976), pp. 107-48. See also Mus, India seen from the east, Vickery, Society, economics, and politics, pp. 139-74; Robert L. Brown, The Dvaravati wheels o/the Law and the Indianization of South East Asia (Leiden: Brill, 1996), pp. 183-8. To properly and fully assess the validity of the concept of 'Khmer Hindusim,' however, it is necessary to examine these various arguments in relation to the larger literature on Hinduism. Important recent studies that tackle similar issues in the Indian context can be found in Hinduism reconsidered, ed. Gunther-Dietz Sontheimer and Hermann Kulke, 2nd edn (New Delhi: Manohar, 1997); Robert Eric Frykenber g, 'Construction of Hinduism at the nexus of history and religion; Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 23, 3 (1993): 523-50; Heinrich von Stietencron, 'Religious configurations in pre-Muslim India and the modern concept of Hinduism in Representing Hinduism: The construction of religious traditions and national identity, ed. Vasudha Dalmia and Heinrich von Stietencron (New Delhi: Sage Publications, 1995), pp. 51-81; and Wilhelm Halbfass, 'The idea of the Veda and the identity of Hinduism; in Tradition and reflection: Explorations in Indian thought, ed. Wilhelm Halbfass (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1991), pp. 1-22.

(47.) Wolters, 'Khmer "Hinduism"; pp. 43 1-2; IC, vol. 5, p. 26; vol. 2, p. 70.

(48.) The foundation stele of Pre Rup (K.806) from the reign of Rajendravarman II (944-968) and the stele of Prasat Crun (at Angkor Thorn) from the late thirteenth or early fourteenth century (K.287); IC, vol. 1, p. 131 and vol. 4, pp. 239, 246.

(49.) Barth, Inscriptions sanscrites, pp. 38-42 (no. 6). The image is mentioned twice, once as Hari-Sankara and again as Han and Sambhu united in one body. Vickery argues that the 'three areas' were all in southern Cambodia near the location of K.60; Vickery, Society, economics, and politics, pp. 336, 409.

(50.) This claim is often made for the Harihara of Prasat Andet. Portrait sculpture does appear in later Khmer art; see George Coedes, 'Les statues du roi khmer Jayavarman VII', Academie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres (July-October 1958): 218-26; idem., 'Le portrait dans l'art khmer', Arts Asiatiques, 7, 3 (1960): 179-98; idem., Angkor: An introduction, pp. 22-33, 99 and Jeanine Auboyer, 'Trois portraits du roi Jayavarman VII', Arts Asiatiques, 6, 1 (1959): 70-4. See also Jan Fontein, The sculpture of Indonesia (Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 1990), pp. 552-5.

(51.) Kulke, 'Early and the imperial kingdom', pp. 13-15; Kenneth R. Hall, 'Economic history of early Southeast Asia', in The Cambridge history of Southeast Asia, ed. Nicholas Tarling, vol. 1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), pp. 229-30; idem., Maritime trade and state development in early Southeast Asia (Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1985), pp. 137-8; Brown, Dvaravati wheels, p. 195.

(52.) Hall, Maritime trade and state development, pp. 136-68.

(53.) See Brown's discussion of Preangkorian kingship in Dvaravati wheels, p. 196. Trade-related arguments from a much broader perspective are in the pioneering work of Frederik Bosch, 'The problem of the Hindu colonisation of Indonesia', in his Selected studies in Indonesian archaeology (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1961), pp. 10-11; and Jacob van Leur, 'On early Asian trade, in his Indonesian trade and society (The Hague : W. Van Hoeve, 1955), p. 107.

(54.) Vickery, Society, economics, and politics, pp. 330-6, 339. 'Gambhiresvara' is also attested at Ak Yom near Angkor (K.749/674) and at Ba Phnom (K.53/667) (p. 150).

(55.) Ibid., pp. 337, 342-3, 350; quotations from pp. 337 (decreasingly exerted) and 339 (Funan). The location of Jayavarman I's capital remains unknown, but Vickery thinks it highly unlikely that he ruled from Isanapura; his discussion of the issues and possibilities is on pp. 350-6.

(56.) Ibid., pp. 390-2.

Paul Lavy is a Ph.D. candidate in Art History at the University of California at Los Angeles and Instructor of Asian Art History at the Pennsylvania State University, University Park. His e-mail contact is

A draft of this article was originally presented at 'Crossroads and Commodification: A Symposium on Southeast Asian Art History', University of Michigan, 25-6 March 2000. I would like to thank Robert L. Brown for the valuable criticism he provided over the course of several versions of this paper; Ketkanda Jaturongkachoke for assistance with Thai-language sources and for her generous hospitality, support and friendship while I was conducting fieldwork in Thailand; and Kanika Mak for her insightful critiques. I would also like to acknowledge the two anonymous readers for their helpful and encouraging comments.
COPYRIGHT 2003 Cambridge University Press
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2003 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Lavy, Paul A.
Publication:Journal of Southeast Asian Studies
Geographic Code:90SOU
Date:Feb 1, 2003
Previous Article:Southeast Asian history and the Mediterranean analogy.
Next Article:Ayutthaya rising: from land or sea?

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2021 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters