Throughout the golden age of the Angkor period, the kings built huge cities and temple complexes symbolic of their power and divinity. One of these capitals was created in 921 by King Jayavarman IV at Koh Ker, about 65km from Angkor. This standing guardian lion has come from there. Such lions were placed on terraces and stairways to guard the central pyramidal structure that represented Mount Meru, the residence of the gods at the centre of the Hindu world. Lions where not native to Cambodia and the Khmer sculptors devised their own fanciful interpretations. The characteristic full, frontal pose and upright stance lend the figure a composed regal air, while the elaborately carved demonic head and patterned chest shows the Javanese influence so important in Khmer culture.
The Asian Collections, AGNSW, 2003, pg.314.
Place where the work was made
circa 1000 CE
94.0 x 44.2 x 56.0 cm
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Purchased with funds provided by Mr F. Storch, R.M and D.M. Adair, T.R.W. Allen, Karl Berkeley, Bruce Bockman, Madeleine Baulken, J.S. Capon, Graham M. Cole, S.M. Gazal, Bruce C. Hudson, Daryl Isles, J.G. Jagelman, N. Jeffreson, Michael Magnus, D.A.M. McCathie, Rosalind O'Connor, L.H. Pockley, E.G. Sternberg, Robert M. White and Ken Yondale 1987
Not on display
Where the work was made
Shown in 1 exhibition
The connoisseur and the philanthropist: 30 years of the Sternberg Collection of Chinese Art, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 31 Jan 2014–27 Apr 2014
Referenced in 4 publications
Liz Bennett, The Australian, 'Lion the pride of Asian collection', pg. 5, Sydney, 02 Sep 1987, 5 (illus.).
Jacqueline Menzies, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Asian', pg. 72-93, Sydney, 1988, 90, 93 (illus.).
Asian Collection Handbook, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'South-East Asian Art', pg. 83-96, Sydney, 1990, 85 (illus.).
The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2003, 314 (colour illus.).