via Medium, 19 April 2019: Cleveland Museum of Art’s conservator Amaris Sturm writes about the history and conservation of the 7th century sculpture of Krishna Lifting Mt. Govardhan from Phnom Da.
The sculpture depicts Krishna, an incarnation of Vishnu, shown performing the miracle of raising Govardhan Hill to shelter a village from torrential rain sent by Indra, king of the gods, who was angry at Krishna for suggesting that the villagers no longer give Indra offerings. Krishna was only seven years old when he performed this superhuman feat, so this sculpture depicts him with youthful features and a short lower garment. Nonetheless, the extreme power of this child god is elegantly sculpted in the CMA’s Krishna, who appears to effortlessly raise the mountain.
This work is important not only for the story it presents, but also for its place in the history of Cambodian art. The figure visualizes the early transition of Hinduism from India to Southeast Asia; the sculptures from the object’s original site are the first known to show Hindu themes depicted in monumental Cambodian style art forms.