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Female Torso, 12th century

Cambodia: Angkor period, 1101-1200
Sandstone
34 1/2 in x 12 3/4 in x 4 1/2 in. (87.6 x 32.4 x 11.4 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
F.1978.25.S
© The Norton Simon Foundation

Not on view

While the identity of this fragmented sculpture is unknown, it most likely represents a goddess. Portraits of individuals were not common during the Angkor period; sculptures of figures were reserved for the divine or for royalty disguised as deities.

Many Khmer sandstone sculptures exist only as fragments, as the delicate extremities carved in this brittle material are easily broken and lost. Without knowledge of what this figure may have worn in her headdress or held in her hands, if anything, it is difficult to identify her. The object’s approximate date of production is discernible, however. Although some archaizing features point to a late 10th- to 11th-century date, such as the simulation of a thick pleated textile for the skirt, along with the starched, fishtail-shaped front panel, the sculpture was likely made in the first half of the 12th century; a period when sculptors looked to past styles for inspiration. The figure’s relatively large scale and the garment’s loose wrapping around its hips, along with the front panel’s raised hemline, points to a 12th century date. Also indicative of this date is the absence of beauty marks, which often accentuate the breasts of earlier female figures.


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