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Head of a Male Deity (Deva)

Tan stone carving of a head, features weathered darker, headwear with geometric pattern.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • Tan stone carving of a head, features weathered darker, headwear with geometric pattern.


Angkor period, late 12th–early 13th century


Angkor Thom, Bayon Temple

About this artwork

This imposing, colossal head was once part of an eight-foot-tall kneeling deity from a set of fifty-four statues that lined one side of a causeway leading up to the south entry of the Bayon Temple at the imperial Khmer capital of Angkor Thom, in Angkor, Cambodia. Although the temple was built by the powerful king Jayavarman VII (1181-1218), a follower of Buddhism, some scholars believe that the statues illustrate the Hindu myth of the Churning of the Ocean of Milk. Both the gods and the demons on the opposite side of the causeway hold the giant serpent Vasuki in their arms in a tug of war to obtain amrita, the nectar of immortality. Another interpretation is that the statues represent guardian figures, with the symbolic protection of the snake, separating and delimiting the world of the sacred from that of the profane. The gods and demons both frown protectively as they guard the entrance to the temple, but they are distinguishable by the shape of their eyes and their headgear. The gods, as demonstrated by this head, have almond eyes, a diadem, long earrings, and a conical chignon decorated with five rows of lotus leaves. The demons have round eyes, furrowed brows, long hair, and fantastical headdresses. An architectural masterpiece, Angkor Thom illustrates the syncretic relationship of the Hindu and Buddhist belief systems of Southeast Asia.


Currently Off View


Arts of Asia


Head of a Male Deity (Deva)


Cambodia (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.





87 × 45.7 × 40.6 cm (34 1/4 × 18 × 16 in.)

Credit Line

Samuel M. Nickerson Fund

Reference Number


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