Antique/Vintage Bejeweled Wood Naga, Burma/Myanmar (11134B-KRK)
H: 32″ W: 20″ D: 7.5″
This exceptional naga was likely one of two that were part of a gong stand. Gongs were used in Burma for both ceremonial and musical purposes in religious, state, or secular settings and as protector figures. A superb carving elaborately decorated with gold lacquer and pigmentation over every square inch, he opens his mouth wide bearing mother-of-pearl teeth and a curled blood red mouth and tongue to drive away malevolent spirits reinforced by the large glaring eyes circled in red. On first glance it is menacing, but its history as a protector of Buddha Shakyamuni make it prized as a fanciful, gleeful guardian. His scales are arched relief designs of mixed lacquer and ash highlighted with inset cut mirrors and green sequin-like glass “jewels.” It is mounted on a museum quality stand and is in excellent condition for its age and use despite missing and ear.
Nagas are powerful folk-art serpents similar to dragons who live in the underworld or in waters, can move through the earth as if it were water, or fly through the heavens. Often described as a half-serpent, half-human, these semi-divine mythical animals have a past in animism and been object of rituals, worship and devotion as a spirit of the earth in South and Southeast Asia for two millennia. Nagas are prominently found in Southeast Asian Buddhist temples as protective and decorative objects flanking doors, above temple entryways, forming balustrades, and at roof corners. Teak Burmese-carvings use decorative motifs on ritual and secular art such as this one from a gong stand which is highly ornate and bejeweled with inset glass and mirrors and a protective lacquer coating. As a snake casts its skin in a symbolic rebirth, so do nagas who represents death, rebirth, and mortality in Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism. Nagas are also said to be the keepers of the life energy chi stored in springs, wells, and pools and, as they control the rains, they bestow prosperity and fertility, heal sickness, and grant wishes. This is part of the VA Burmese-Carvings Collection.
Barbara O’Brien, Naga, about.com
Sciencia, “The Asian Civilizations Museum A-Z Guide to Its Collections”
|Place of Origin||
|Materials and Technique||
Wood, polychrome, lacquer
Ht: 81.28cm W: 50.8cm D: 19.15 cm
Excellent, See Descripton
H: 32" W: 20" D: 7.5"