Special thanks to the Museum for their gracious permission to photograph these objects.

Nine Planetary Deities

Cambodia (Prasat Lolei), 8-9c
National Museum, Bangkok

From left to right, we see: Surya, the Sun, in a horse-drawn chariot; Chandra, the Moon, on a pedestal; Venus (?) on a horse; Mercury, on a bird; Jupiter, on an elephant; Saturn (?) on some kind of equid (the standard vehicle would be a buffalo); Mars, on a goat; Rahu (crescent moon) on clouds; and Ketu (comet) on a lion.

Sculptures of the Nine Deities exhibit significant variation in the central five figures and their attributes (the outer four staying relatively constant). This has led some scholars to propose alternate identifications. It is, nevertheless, almost overwhelmingly tempting to identify the central five figures with some permutation of the five visible planets, which can be seen with the naked eye and were therefore familiar to ancient astronomers.

For more information, see: Millennium of Glory, p. 240 (Musee Guimet, MG 14898) and p. 248 (Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, B71.S9).