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Asian art

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Guardian Lion

circa 1000 CE


Unknown Artist


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 were 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 show the Javanese influence so important in Khmer culture.

The Asian Collections, AGNSW, 2003, pg.314.


Place where the work was made


Cultural origin

Koh Ker style


circa 1000 CE

Media category


Materials used



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

Accession number



Where the work was made

Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history

Referenced in 4 publications


Liz Bennett, The Australian, 'Lion the pride of Asian collection', pg. 5, Sydney, 02 Sep 1987, 5 (illus.).

Jackie Menzies and Edmund Capon AM, OBE, Asian Collection Handbook, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'South-East Asian Art', pg. 83-96, Sydney, 1990, 85 (illus.).

Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2003, 314 (colour illus.).

Jacqueline Menzies, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Asian', pg. 72-93, Sydney, 1988, 90, 93 (illus.).