Lingam with the head of Shiva
Khmer, Pre-Angkor period, circa 7-8th Century
The lingam has a simple form with square base, octagonal mid-section and cylindrical top representing a phallus, the immaterial form of the supreme deity Shiva.
Lingams with faces, usually only one, seem to have been popular only during the Pre-Angkor period.
In the following Angkor period the more abstract form without a face was preferred.
The face on this lingam is diminutive and carved in shallow relief. The ascetic head is meant to be a bust with the square shoulders clearly delineated. The ears are elongated and adorned with earrings. The high coiffure is rising to a pronounced conical ridge that recedes into the lingam.
The lingam was venerated by the Shaivite Khmers during the entire Angkor period.
Each lingam would have originally sat in a circular base with a water spout at one end to drain off ritual liquids.
The focus of worship in a Khmer Shiva temple was the lingam. The shivalingam is the phallic emblem of the God. In the Khmer period great political and spiritual significance was attached to the lingam.
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