Gate of Wat Prasat Burapharam

Near Muang Tam, Thailand
18th-20th century

This small, modern temple syncretizes Vishnu and Shiva, in accordance with the Skanda Upanishad. The pediment above the gate depicts Vishnu riding on Garuda but also holding a trident, the proper emblem of Shiva, in his lower left hand. Squirrels appear here and there on the pediment, which is lined at the bottom by a row of adoring figures. The snake clutched by Garuda has one head at each end of its body (near Garuda's feet), and each head disgorges a snake's tail (makara). The snake holds a similar place, in the overall decorative scheme, as the floral garland in earlier temples.