During the first centuries of our era, Cambodia was under the influence of India, and the Indians regularly retreat on it whenever the Ganges Valley was invaded or threatened. The official religion is Brahmanism. The country then fell under the domination of the people of Java, but from the beginning of the 9th century, the Khmers regained all of it and chose Angkor as their capital, but a little later, the site of Angkor.
In spite of the unrest and wars they waged against their neighbours, the Chams in particular, they knew how to bring architecture and civilization to an exceptional level, especially during the first half of the 12th century, during which the great temple of Angkor Wat was built, which marked the apogee of classical Khmer art. Soon after, however, the Chams resumed their attacks, even took the capital by surprise and burned it down (1177).
As early as 1181, however, Jayavarman VII succeeded in chasing out the invader, was crowned king and undertook the reconstruction of the capital, whose main monument was the Temple of Bayon, in the city of Angkor Thom.
Under this reign there is a certain rupture with the previous period: Brahmanism is abandoned for Buddhism, which leads to notable changes in the layout of religious buildings, while the decoration is more exuberant and the motifs are directly inspired by reality, as it appears in this cunning expression in this head: his slightly tense smile and his eyes wide open but a little fixed have nothing stereotypical and are far removed from those contemporary heads who smile calmly.
Reproduction in resin with patina
Height: 38 cm.
Width: 17 cm.
Depth: 16 cm
Origin: Cambodia, Aymonier mission
Period: Late 12th or early 13th century, Angkorian period, Bayon style
Museum: Paris - Museum of Asian Arts-Guimet