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Superb Khmer Sandstone Torso of the Goddess Uma

Southeast Asia, Cambodia, Khmer Empire (Angkor culture), ca. 12th century CE. An incredible brown sandstone statue of the goddess Uma (Parvati). She stands with her hips slightly forward, wearing an ankle-length sampot that falls in parallel pleats, with a beautifully carved fishtail fold. This is secured with an ornately-carved belt, with a folded down carved covering over the belt meant to look like the same parallel-pleated fabric. The goddess's exposed upper torso and breasts are expertly sculpted. One arm still has evidence for ornately carved armbands wrapped around it. The goddess's chest has been carved with a gorgeous, multi-layered necklace with a four-petaled flower as its centerpiece. The necklace hangs down in tassels that fall sensuously between her breasts. Comes with custom stand. Size: 5.4" L x 10.9" W x 27" H (13.7 cm x 27.7 cm x 68.6 cm); height on stand: 31.75" (80.6 cm)

Uma is one of the names of Parvati, Hindu goddess of love and fertility, the supreme mother goddess. Her statues and iconography grace Hindu temples throughout Southeast Asia, reflecting the strength of her worship.

Khmer art moved away from Indian styles in the 7th century CE to encompass its own framework; one example of this seen here is that this statue is carved in the round, rather than as a relief on a stela, which was common with Indian and Javanese Hindu and Buddhist sculptures that had previously influenced Cambodian art. The broken arms on this statue, and on so many others from the Khmer, are a testament to the fragility of this remarkable craftsmanship. From this, we can infer that Khmer sculptors would have desired their artwork to be viewed from all sides, and thus placed in the center of temples rather than against a wall. While this artwork was religious - priests supervised its execution - its realism is unmistakable and some scholars believe that gods and goddesses were portrayed with the features of individual members of the royal court. This sculpture and others like it would have both emphasized the power of the monarchy and given high ranking people joy - after all, who wouldn't want to see themselves sculpted by the finest artisans in stone, compared to a goddess?

A similar piece sold at Christie's in 2011 for $56,250: http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/Lot/a-sandstone-figure-of-uma-khmer-angkor-5416826-details.aspx

Condition: The figure is a fragment, with loss to the head, arms, and feet. Expected surface wear from age with small losses to skirt waist.

Provenance: private southern California, USA collection, acquired before 1995

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