Garuda Riding on Naga (Snake deity)


Garuda Riding on Naga (Snake deity)

Sculpture / Other Asia

Place of production:Entrance of the Baphuon and the Terrace of the Elephants, Cambodia

Angkor period, 12th-13th century



Garuda, with the head and wings of an eagle and the body of a human, rides atop the seven-headed snake god Naga in this sculpture. Garuda is thought to be the mount of Vishnu, one of the main Hindu gods, and this sacred creature is said to consume the Naga snake gods that humans fear.
Garuda has one arm raised high, and if you look closely, you can see the wings depicted behind it. It is unfortunate that the sculpture’s left arm and the upper portion of the sculpture has been lost, but we still get a powerful sense of Garuda keeping the Naga under control.
This sculpture was a part of a section in the ruins of Angkor Thom in Siem Reap, Cambodia called the Terrace of the Elephants. In fact, the top two levels of the sculpture do not match the bottom level. It seems that it may be a combination of two similar sculptures that had been displayed in different spots before being damaged. The Terrace of the Elephants has a sculpture of Garuda stomping down on a Naga, and in Bayon, in another part of Angkor Thom, there is a sculpture like this one, in which Garuda rides atop a Naga.
The back of the sculpture has also been carefully carved into shape, so be sure to walk around it to get a view from all directions.

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