I’ve always seen parallels between Indian or Southeast Asian and ancient Egyptian statuary. The styles, poses, clothing, and modes of representation all seem very similar to me, yet no one has ever been able to give me a satisfactory explanation as to why. When I was at the Met last week, I saw the Lost Kingdoms: Hindu-Buddhist Sculpture in Early Southeast Asia, 5th to 8th Century exhibition (which has since closed), and I was struck once again by how much these two diverse traditions have in common across so much time and space.  Searching for these images, I realized that there are even more similarities than I first realized. I don’t feel that I currently have the necessary background knowledge to come to any meaningful conclusions on the issue, so I put this to my readers: what’s the connection? Do any of you know more about this than I do? Do you even see the same parallels that I do? Please help me figure this out!

Facial similarities:

Buddha Calling the Earth to Witness, 9th–early 10th century, Northeastern Thailand, sandstone; lent by National Museum, Bangkok. Featured in the Lost Kingdoms exhibition.
Head of the god Amun, New Kingdom, Post-Amarna Period, reign of Tutankhamun ca. 1336–1327 B.C., probably from Upper Egypt, Thebes, granodiorite, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rogers Fund

Similarities in clothing,and method of representing the body:

Vishnu, first half of the 9th century, central Cambodia, sandstone; lent by Musée National des Arts Asiatiques–Guimet, Paris, featured in the Lost Kingdoms exhibition.
Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, first quarter of the 8th century, Northeastern Thailand, sandstone; lent by Philadelphia Museum of Art, purchased with the W. P. Wilstach Fund, 1965. Featured in the Lost Kingdoms exhibition.
Harihara, pre-Angkor period, late 7th–early 8th century, southern Cambodia, sandstone; Metropolitan Museum of Art, purchase, Laurance S. Rockefeller Gift and Anonymous Gift, 1977, featured in the Lost Kingdoms exhibition.
Statue of Ity-sen, c. 2500-2350 BCE, Egypt, limestone, Brooklyn Museum, gift of Evangeline Wilbour Blashfield, Theodora Wilbour, and Victor Wilbour honoring the wishes of their mother Charlotte Beebe WIlbour, as a memorial to their father Charles Edwin Wilbour.
Statue of a family group, limestone, Egypt, Old Kingdom, c. 2371-2298 BCE; Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund.
Torso of a High General, Late Period, 4th century B.C., Egypt, meta-greywacke; Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, Gift of Henry Walters, by exchange, Asher B. Edelman Gift, Judith and Russell Carson Gift, Ernest L. Folk III Bequest, Ludlow Bull Fund, and funds from various donors, 1996

Similarity of poses:

Enthroned Buddha, late 6th–7th century, Southern Vietnam, sandstone; lent by National Museum of Vietnamese History, Ho Chi Minh City. Featured in the Lost Kingdoms exhibition.
Nikare with his Wife and Daughter, Old Kingdom, ca. 2420–2389 B.C. or later, Egypt, Memphite Region, limestone, paint; Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rogers Fund, 1952

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