This head, although deprived of insignia of royalty and any ornament, is the one of the sovereign Jayavarman VII. The king is represented middle-aged, meditating in all humility, his eyes lowered. On his lips is the famous "smile of Angkor".
This sculpture belongs to the style of Bayon for which the sculptors give up the ideal canon of youth and beauty, somewhat impersonal, of the former times. Then they adopt a style more naturalist, terrestrial and human, with sensitive relief, being sometimes inspired by the aspect of the king or his contemporaries.
These works display a great expressiveness, translating by the devotion and the serenity of the heart the royal greatness. Several statues identified as portraits are known, the sovereign appears there at different ages, sitting, paying homage to Buddha.
The reign of Jayavarman VII follows a period of disorders being completed in 1177 by the catch of Angkor by Chams. During this Khmer rebirth, Jayavarman VII adopts Mahayana Buddhism as religion of State. This change implies new iconographic and aesthetic research. It finds its main expression in disproportionate architectural programs, as the Bayon, central temple of the town of Angkor Thom.
Reproduction in resin with patina
Dimensions with base
Height: 29.5 cm.
Width: 12 cm.
Depth: 16 cm
Weight: 2.5 kg
Origin: Surrounding Angkor, Cambodia, uncertain provenance, Bayon style
Period: Late 12th - early 13th century
Museum: Paris - Museum of Asian Arts-Guimet