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Southeast Asia, Cambodia, Khmer Empire (Angkor culture), ca. 12th to 13th century CE. A pair of beautifully preserved cast bronze palanquin hooks, each with a near-identical lotus flower design - they were probably cast from the same mold. The lotus flower opens outward on either side of a large cylindrical socket. At the top of each lotus is a mound that resembles the ushnisha of the Buddha - Buddhist symbolism was a key part of Khmer artwork. The surfaces of the lotuses are studded with petals which open onto the ornate geometric decoration of the sockets themselves. Phallic hooks ending in curved terminals are attached to the opposite sides of the sockets from the lotuses. Size: 4.25" W x 7.4" H (10.8 cm x 18.8 cm); 10.25" H (26 cm) on included custom stand.
Palanquin hooks were an essential part of the wooden and wicker palanquins that were the primary mode of transport for royal and elite people in Khmer society - these decorative hooks were used to suspend the palanquin from the transverse pole used to carry it. The technical skill and artistry of Khmer bronze casters is evident in these examples, with their ornate decoration despite their heavy use.
See a more ornate example, sold at Christie's, New York, in 2012 for $6250 (Lot 181); see a simpler example that gives a clear photo of how this piece was used alongside a ring at the British Museum (1946,1015.2).
Provenance: private Hawaii, USA collection, bought in 2003
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Both are intact, with a nice mottled light and dark green patina and details well preserved.