This sculpture has been tentatively identified as Aiyanar, one of the disciples of the Hindu god Shiva who was worshipped in south India and Sri Lanka. The name Aiyanar is Tamil, meaning "he who commands." Aiyanar was a huntsman who was believed to protect travelers and guard reservoirs, particularly at night. Comparisons with other known sculptures of this deity suggest that the right arm of this figure was resting on his knee while his left hung down.
This sculpture is reputed to have been discovered at Si Thep, in the north-central part of Thailand, and it is made of graywacke, a variety of sandstone often used in sculptures attributed to this site. Si Thep is located between two regions that are known to have been centers of Mon power and a region that is believed to have been an important center of Khmer culture prior to the development farther south of the Khmer empire during the 10th century. There is some textual evidence for the role played by the Khmers in the establishment of Si Thep. Moreover, the prevalence of Hindu imagery in the sculpture from this site also points to the Khmer rather than Mon tradition. Sculptures from Si Thep are characterized by strong, clearly delineated physiques, dramatic poses, and the minimal attention paid to their garments. For example, the thin line at this figure's waist indicates that he wore a short skirtlike garment. This style of sculpture is found at Si Thep and at sites that in fact are associated with some of the earliest traditions of Cambodian sculpture, or perhaps more carefully stated, Khmer as opposed to Mon sculpture. The relationship between these two strong traditions is one of the more perplexing and unresolved issues in the history of art in Thailand and Cambodia.