| 20. Buddha
circa 1200 A.D.
height 29 cm.
The historical Buddha Gautama Sakyamuni
is the embodiment of compassion who, having achieved the highest evolutionary
perfection, turns suffering into happiness for all living beings. One
of the most remarkable achievements of Khmer art was the development
of portraiture towards the end of the 12th century. The Buddhist religious
system became increasingly more important in Cambodia during the reign
of Jayavarman VII, who was a follower of mahayana Buddhism and ruled
Cambodia from 1181-1218 A.D. This important Buddhist monarch was regarded
as the supreme king of all kings, and felt strongly associated with
the historical Buddha. The sculptural portraits of the majestic image
of Jayarvarman VII have been depicted with a great sense of realism
and can be considered among the world's greatest royal portraits. The
depiction of a real individual in the form of a Buddhist deity, as reflected
in this image, was thought to be connected to the power and compassion
of the historical Buddha. Most likely this portrait is associated with
the king in his youth; another consideration is the connection with
his wife Jayaradevi, whose expression, slightly more elongated, resembles
the facial features of her husband.