Shell and bronze
Overall: 35 cm (13 3/4 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 1977.176
A royal temple like Banteay Chhmar was built for performing rituals and to honor images of gods, Buddhas, and other sacred or enlightened beings for the sake of the kingdom’s protection and ongoing prosperity. Conch shells were blown at the start
of rituals to make the sound corresponding to the syllable om.
The dancing figure of Hevajra, a Buddhist being of enlightenment with eight heads, sixteen arms, and four legs, has been worked into the bronze embellishment of the shell. Hevajra was elevated to a prominent position in Khmer Buddhism of the Angkorian period as the standard figure denoting the practice of rituals prescribed in a text called the Hevajra-tantra. The tripod stand with three serpents is probably not original to the shell.
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