Guardian Lion

Accession Number

Guardian Lion


Artist Nationality
Khmer (general)

Object Creation Date
12th century

Medium & Support

32 1/16 in. x 13 3/4 in. x 17 1/2 in. ( 81.5 cm x 35 cm x 44.5 cm )

Credit Line
Museum purchase made possible by the Margaret Watson Parker Art Collection Fund

Label copy
March 28, 2009
The lion is not native to South or Southeast Asia but rather a motif borrowed from ancient Persia, where it was a symbol of royal power. In the vast temple complexes built by the Khmer Empire in Cambodia, as well as in parts of Thailand and Laos in the ninth through thirteenth centuries, the central shrine was imagined as the throne of the deity (whether Buddhist or Hindu), and a pair of lions were placed flanking the stairway leading to that shrine. This lion dates to the twelfth century, when the Khmer capital city of Angkor was at the height of its political power and artistic brilliance. Although centuries of wind and rain have worn away the sandstone’s surface, the lion’s patterned mane and facial expression still convey the sculptor’s skill.
(Label for UMMA South and Southeast Asia Gallery Opening Rotation, March 2009)

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type

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temples (buildings)

4 Related Resources

Before 1492
(Part of 3 Learning Collections)
Essay: Guardian Lion        
(Part of: Docent Essays on UMMA Collection Objects)

& Author Notes

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