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Sixth-Century Statue Discovered in Cambodia

Thursday, January 23, 2020

SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA—The Khmer Times reports that the head of a statue of a makara, a crocodile-like sea dragon in Hindu iconography, was spotted in Phnom Kulen National Park by a local resident who alerted authorities at the Siem Reap Provincial Environment Department. In the Hindu tradition, makaras serve as guardians of gateways and thresholds, especially in throne rooms and temples, and work as transport for the river goddess Ganga and the sea god Varuna. Researchers who traveled to the site found an additional 13 pieces of the sandstone statue, which is thought to date to the sixth century. “We have not yet moved the body parts or excavated the head from the site and have told park rangers in the area to guard it in order for officials from relevant ministries and institutions to come and study in detail about the site’s history and reconstruct the pieces,” said department director Sun Kong. No temple foundations have been found in the area, leading the researchers to suggest the statue was carved in place from the local rock. To read about a bodhisattva statue recently unearthed in Angkor, go to "Around the World: Cambodia."

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