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Copycats and Body Doubles: Defining the Limits of Authentic Imitation in Preangkorian Sculpture

November 13, 12:00 p.m., Tokioka Room (Moore Hall 319)
Presented by Paul Lavey, Assistant Professor of South and Southeast Asian Art History, University of Hawai′i at Mānoa

The Prasat Andet Harihara and its eponymous artistic style have long been lauded as high-points of Preangkorian (7th – 8th cent.) Khmer sculpture and indeed of Southeast Asian art in general. Given the praise that this piece has continuously attracted, it is of considerable interest that during the past thirty years numerous additional, previously unknown, and unprovenanced sculptures of Harihara in the Prasat Andet style have come to light on the art market, including some that scholars have argued to be “copies”-whether ancient or modern – of the Prasat Andet Harihara.

Several of the recently revealed images, however, share unusual traits exclusively among themselves that distinguish them from previously known and unimpeachable examples and which place them outside the stylistic development of Preangkorian sculpture as it is currently understood. Through formal analysis of the various Prasat Andet style Hariharas and related images, the speaker argues that stylistic inconsistencies raise questions not only about the nature of “copying” in early Southeast Asian art and the way scholars classify Khmer sculpture, but also about the authenticity of many of the recently revealed images.


Paul Lavy, assistant professor of South and Southeast Asian Art History, University of Hawai′i at Mānoa, joined the art department in August, 2008. Professor Lavy has taught Art and Architecture of Maritime and Mainland Southeast Asia, Art and Architecture of Pre-Colonial South Asia, Monuments and Nationalism in Southeast Asia, and Hindu Visual Culture.

He has conducted field research in Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, India, Laos and Malaysia. Professor Lavy received his Ph.D. at the University of California, Los Angeles in 2004, where he did his dissertation on Visnus and Harihara in the Art and Politics if Early Historic Southeast Asia.