The 'linga', the most sacred form of the powerful god Shiva, is composed of three parts: the square lower section, usually embedded in the earth, is associated with Brahma, the Creator; the octagonal mid-section, embedded within a seat or plinth known as the 'yoni', is associated with Vishnu, the Preserver; and the domed, cylindrical upper section is associated with Shiva, the Destroyer. This tripartite form symbolises the principle of transmigration ('samsara'): that all living beings are thought to exist within an eternal cycle of creation, preservation and dissolution, which continues throughout eternity.
This piece attests to the importance of Shaivism in Southeast Asia, where Shiva was the tutelary deity ('ishtadevata') of Jayavarman II, who in 802 CE established the Khmer empire. The 'linga' became the sacred icon of Jayavarman II's kingdom and through the cult of 'linga' worship consolidated the notion of the king as a 'devaraja' ('god-king').
The Asian Collections, AGNSW, 2003, pg.311.
Shiva lingam stone
Place where the work was made
Pre-Angkorian period circa 500 - 799 → Cambodia
7th century-8th century
67.0 x 18.4 x 18.4 cm, 55.73 kg.
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Where the work was made
Shown in 2 exhibitions
Referenced in 3 publications
Jackie Menzies, Arts of Asia, 'New Dimensions', pg. 54-63, Hong Kong, Nov 2003-Dec 2003, 58 (colour illus.). no.9
Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2003, 311 (colour illus.).
Pratapaditya Pal, Orientations, 'Sensuous Spirituality: Hindu and Buddhist Art from the Indic Cultural Realm', pg. 80-87, Hong Kong, Sep 2000, 80 (illus.; colour illus.). fig.1and 1a (detail)