To the best of present knowledge, this statue is apparently one of the most ancient representations of Harihara, a hybrid deity who is half Vishnu (Hari)-depicted on the left hand side, with crown and disc-and half Shiva (Hara)-depicted on the right, with crescent-moon ascetic’s chignon headdress, tiger-skin robe, and trident. By the time the 7th century Phnom Da style emerged, Khmer art had already adopted the hieratic frontality that was to become its hallmark. Such stylization was nevertheless combined with highly sensitive, soft, realistic modelling: the bust here, for instance, is reminiscent of 6th– and 7th century post-Gupta Indian sculpture. Works in the Phnom Da style all derived from a Vishnuite context and often display paradoxical features such as a slender torso, slightly slack belly, stylized oval face, and realistically treated hair tumbling down the figure’s back.
The supporting arc-still partially extant in the upper part of the sculpture-which linked the arms and head and originally completely encircled the divine figure, attests to the utmost care with which sculptors executed their works in the pre-Angkorian period. The god Harihara evolved from syncretic tendencies within Brahmanism and became a major deity, offering the faithful the dual protection of Vishnu and Shiva.
The period encompassed several occasionally overlapping styles; such diversity stands in contrast to the more pronounced stylistic homogeneity of subsequent Angkorian art.