From the fifth to the eighth century, a series of kingdoms emerged in Southeast Asia whose rulers embraced Hinduism and Buddhism, two major religions received from India. Yet, until recently, little was known about these enigmatic early societies. Lost Kingdoms, the first publication to use sculpture as a lens through which to explore this formative period of Southeast Asian history, is a groundbreaking scholarly contribution. While taking a fresh approach to the study of the early cultures of Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam, it also considers the individuals sculptures and architectural elements presented here – more than 170 works in all – in terms of their undeniable aesthetic accomplishment. For these are objects of rare and singular beauty as well as keys to understanding an essential phase of Southeast Asia’s past.
Spectacular photographs shot on location fill the pages, while texts by the most prominent scholars in the field address the key themes that unite many of the objects and provide important contextual background. Rich in art-historical, cultural, and political insights, Lost Kingdoms is both a watershed study of Southeast Asia’s cultural legacy and a breathtaking introduction to a largely unknown tradition of early Hindu-Buddhist art.