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This statue was produced following the technique of Polychrome. It portrays Buddha Sakyamuni protected by a mighty snake called ‘Naga’, and was inspired by an image in the Bayon style dating from XIIth-XIIIth centuries.
Four weeks after Buddha Sakyamuni started to meditate under the Boddhi tree, where he had to keep away from the multiple temptation of the demon Mara who wanted to disturb his meditation. Mara even managed to darken heavens for seven days and send prodigious rains above Sakyamuni. However, Mucilinda, the mighty multi-headed King of the Naga (cobra-like snake) came from beneath the earth, and protected with his hood the Buddha from the fury of the elements. As soon as the stormed has terminated, the great Naga took a human form and bowed before the Buddha.
There are various existing representations of this Buddha on Naga in Cambodia, certainly because it was one of the most important images during the reign of King Jayavarman VII, who lasted from 1181 to 1218. The motives which decided the King to emphasize the images of Mucilinda protecting Buddha are uncertain. It is possible that as snakes were related to healing, the King wanted to stress that his reign was under the auspices of healing – which could be confirmed by the numerous hospitals he built throughout the kingdom of Cambodia.
Polychrome statues should be displayed indoors only as they should avoid contact with water and direct sunlight.
This piece also exists in the Polychrome Prestige collection.