Garuda is a half-man, half-eagle steed for Vishnu, a god in the Hindu cosmology. The eagle has long been an emblem of victory, and Garuda is often a symbol of Khmer imperial power for the Cambodians. In this bird-king, there is manifest harmony between power (the forceful stride) and grace (the slender torso that balances the upraised arms), creating a magical figure of royal virility.

Bronze figures such as this spiritually charged image were probably kept in private sanctuaries and seen only by the most holy or powerful individuals. This Garuda is strikingly similar to the Garuda atlas relief figures of the south gallery at the great temple of Angkor Wat.
Artist Khmer, Cambodian
  • Garuda
  • Garuda, Mythical Bird Vehicle of Vishnu (alternate title)
Date ca. 1150
Medium Copper alloy
Dimensions Overall: 9 7/8 × 7 7/8 × 5 3/4 inches (25.1 × 20 × 14.6 cm)
Installed: 10 7/8 × 8 1/8 × 8 inches (27.6 × 20.6 × 20.3 cm)
Credit Line Founders Society Purchase with funds from Albert Kahn
Accession Number 43.419
Department Asian Art
On View Buddhist Art N1B, Level 1 (see map)
(Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York, New York, USA);
1943-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
Bulletin of the DIA 23, no. 2 (1943): p. 13 (ill.).

The Art of Greater India. Exh. cat., Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Los Angeles, March 1-April 16, 1950, p. 92, no. 151 (ill.).

Bronzes of India and Greater India. Exh. cat., Rhode Island Museum of Art. Rhode Island, November 2-30, 1955, no. 48.

Art in Asia and the West. Exh. cat., San Francisco Museum of Art. San Francisco, October 28-December 1, 1957, p. 19, no. 8h.

Khmer Sculpture. Exh. cat., Asia House Gallery. New York, November 28, 1961-January 30, 1962, p. 45, no. 14 (ill.).

Mitchell, S.W. "The Asian Collection at the Detroit Institute of Arts," Orientations, vol. 13, no. 5 (May 1982): pp. 14-36, (fig. 7).