Centuries ago, a brilliant civilization flourished in the valleys and plains of what is now Cambodia. The Khmer culture created a remarkable artistic legacy, boldly expressive in form yet delicate in its sensibility. The most famous Khmer monument is the vast temple complex at Angkor Wat, but works in bronze are equally remarkable for their power. The intrinsic beauty of this palanquin hook almost makes us forget that it originally had a practical function. A palanquin is a covered traveling litter used by oriental nobility. Two rings attached to the wooden body were suspended from two hooks through which passed a pole. The litter was borne on the shoulders of two or more porters. Only the highest classes were permitted palanquin fittings of bronze, and this stunning piece was no doubt worthy of royalty. It is surmounted by a blossoming lotus, while the body of the hook represents the mythical bird Garuda, enemy of snakes and vehicle of the Hindu god Vishnu. Graceful and powerful at once, it evokes the wealth and splendor of a vanished world.