Friday, February 08, 2008

Phnom Chisor's iconography explained

I've picked out some of the more interesting lintel and pediment carvings to be found at Phnom Chisor to post before I disappear for 3 days on a jaunt to Kompong Cham province. So no more postings for the next 72 hours - sorry folks, but internet access is pretty much non-existent where I'm going. Now back to the Chisor treasure-trove of 11th century iconography.

Above: This lintel shows Vishnu atop the winged Garuda, above a kala head with foliage filling the rest of this decorative sandstone lintel. Garuda has the torso and limbs of a man, but the talons, wings and beak of an eagle and is often seen carrying Vishnu and is termed Vishnu Garudavahana.
Above: The west facade of the western gopura has a badly-worn lintel over the northern door showing Krishna subduing the poisonous snake Kaliya. Krishna killing various opponents is a very popular scene on lintels and this one shows him dancing on the head of Kaliya to the point of death, before he tells the wounded snake to leave the river, which he had infested.
Above: The northern library has an eastern lintel displaying an image of Krishna lifting Mount Govardhana flanked by two worshippers, above a grinning kala. The reason for holding up the mountain was to protect others from the wrath of Indra. Over time the representation of the mountain became a thin triangular strip such as seen above.
Above: The west face of the eastern enclosure, facing inwards, has Shiva and his consort Umamaheshvara over the central door with an unusual small crouching figure between the bull Nandin's legs.
Above: Below the pediment of Umamaheshvara, is a lintel of an unconfirmed god, possibly Vishvakarma, the architect of the universe, carrying his stick of command, the danda, flanked by two worshippers, above the grinning head of kala.

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