Pair of naga finials

Overall: 29.2 x 15.2 x 15.2 cm (11 1/2 x 6 x 6 in.)
Location: not on view
You can copy, modify, and distribute this work, all without asking permission. Learn more about CMA's Open Access Initiative.

Download, Print and Share


When members of the royal family or priesthood traveled in a public festival procession or to a temple to make offerings or participate in a ceremony, they would be carried in a palanquin, or a covered litter. Portable objects of veneration, such as bronze images or a sacred fire, were also carried on palanquins. The palanquins had wooden poles, hanging seats or raised platforms, and bronze fittings cast in intricate forms and gilt, lending the palanquins a sumptuous quality.

The royal palanquins were typically fitted with multiheaded, serpent-shaped finials at the ends of the poles and corners of the elevated platforms.

Naga means serpent in Sanskrit, a language from India selectively appropriated by the Khmer in Cambodia. In their own indigenous mythology, the Khmer people trace their descent from a naga princess and a prince from the island of Java who journeyed to Cambodia. The naga remains a potent emblem for the Khmer nation to this day; it is ubiquitous on Cambodian monuments.
Pair of naga finials

Pair of naga finials


Cambodia, probably Angkor

Visually Similar Artworks

ArtLens App

Let the ArtLens App be your guide, featuring an interactive map, every artwork on view, and AR scanning. Keep track of your favorite artworks. Take a guided tour, or create your own. 

Download the App

Contact us

The information about this object, including provenance, may not be currently accurate. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email

To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.

All images and data available through Open Access can be downloaded for free. For images not available through Open Access, a detail image, or any image with a color bar, request a digital file from Image Services.