Sandstone mukhalingam

Pre Angkor period, 7th century, Cambodia

Height: 68 cm, 26.7 inches

This polished sandstone symbol of creative power and fertility has a sculpted face representing Shiva and is, therefore, known as a 'mukhalingam'. Although carved from one piece of stone - it is sculpted into three sections: a square base, an octagonal mid-section, and a rounded top. Shiva's shoulders rise from the top of the mid-section, and his face from the rounded head of the phallus. The face is carved in relief and the top of Shiva's head joined to a central line (also carved in relief) that divides the front of the top section; this is known as a 'brahmasutra'. The mukhalingam was prevalent in the pre-Angkor period - whereas later Khmer lingams were sculpted without faces and with cylindrical tops.

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