Marnie FeneleyAug 1, 2023
Style, Hydraulics, Political Power and Angkor's West Mebon Visnu
National University of Singapore Press 2023
In December 1936, a villager was led by a dream to the ruins of the West Mebon shrine in Angkor where he uncovered remains of a bronze sculpture. This was the West Mebon Visnu, the largest bronze remaining from pre-modern Southeast Asia, and a work of great artistic, historical, and political significance. Prominently placed in an island temple in the middle of the vast artificial reservoir, the West Mebon Visnu sculpture was an important focal point of the Angkorian hydraulic network. Interpretations of the statue, its setting, date, and role have remained largely unchanged since the 1960s--until now.
Integrating the latest archaeological and historical work on Angkor, extensive art historical analysis of the figure of Visnu Anantasayin in Hindu-Buddhist art across the region, and a detailed digital reconstruction of the sculpture and its setting, Marnie Feneley brings new light to this important piece. Marnie Feneley's Reconstructing God: Style, Hydraulics, Political Power and Angkor's West Mebon Visnu (National U of Singapore Press, 2023) will be of interest to art historians and curators, historians of Southeast Asia, and anyone curious about the art and history of Angkor.
Patrick Jory teaches Southeast Asian History in the School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry at the University of Queensland. He can be reached at: email@example.com.