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Gopnik's Daily Pic: Cambodian Bronze

By Blake Gopnik

A feed from my morning musings about art and objects at


Daily Pic: The "Kandal Urn," a bronze vessel from the National Museum of Cambodia, and now in the Sackler Gallery's "Gods of Angkor" show. It's about 2,200 years old. The little lug on its left side is made to look like basketwork, which makes me think the shape of the whole vessel might imitate a wicker or maybe leather container. Whenever a new medium appears, it usually starts out immitating old ones. Greek temples show traces of their wooden ancestors, and early acrylics were used to get oil-paint effects.

Backstory: The urn was discovered in 1948 in the hands of some farmers, who were using it to carry water on long trips by ox cart. Had they unearthed it, or had it been in use for two millennia?

By Blake Gopnik  | October 7, 2010; 7:56 AM ET
Categories:  Blake Gopnik, Museums  | Tags:  Daily Pic  
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