Given its large size, it is likely that the hand belonged to a life-sized statue, indicating the grandeur and scale of the original sculpture. The presence of a sankha, a conch-shell trumpet, held in the upper raised left hand of a Vishnu sculpture is significant. The god’s four hands hold his symbolic attributes—a club for knowledge, a ball signifying the earth, a chara of disk symbolizing power and a conch betokening water. In Hindu and Buddhist rituals, conch shells played a crucial role. Blowing a conch was believed to have the power to ward off evil spirits, and conch shells were associated with the element of water, symbolizing the origin of existence. This information is sourced from Emma Bunker and Douglas Latchford’s book, Adoration and Glory: The Golden Age of Khmer Art (Chicago, 2004, p. 56), providing further insights into the cultural and religious significance of the sculpture and the purpose of the conch held by the figure.

• Karim & Isabelle Grusenmeyer, Damien Woliner, A World of Sculptures, Brussels, 2016

Photo credit : Studio Asselberghs – Frédéric Dehaen

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