Land of Nagas: Part 2

Nagas in Cambodia

In Cambodian legends, the Nagas are a reptilian race who had a large empire in the Pacific Ocean region. The Naga King’s daughter married the king of Ancient Cambodia, and gave rise to the Cambodian people. This is why, still, today, Cambodians say that they are “Born from the Naga”. The Seven-Headed Naga serpents depicted as statues on Cambodian temples apparently represent the 7 races within Naga society, which has a symbolic association with “the seven colours of the rainbow”. Cambodian Nagas also possess numerological symbolism in the number of their heads. Odd-headed Naga symbolise male energy, infinity, timelessness, and immortality. This is because, numerologically, all odd numbers come from One.

Even-headed Nagas are said to be female, representing physicality, mortality, temporality, and the earth – I haven’t come across any of this kind browsing the net.
(I’m wondering whether the English words “odd” and “even” reflect an opposite perception of how many is odd and what is even in the world?)

Originally, Nagas came to Cambodia from India, together with Hindu religion, philosophy, legends and architecture. Naga cult is still part of Indian culture, and has even found its way into the Muslim communities in Kashmir. In Thailand, the Naga is usually depicted as a large crested serpent. However, at Angkor, the Naga loses its crest in favor of a more ominous multi-headed appearance reminiscent of the Hydra from Greek mythology. When visiting Angkor, the outer gates are flanked by seven-headed Naga serpents leading to the central temple complex.

Many fantastic abilities are attributed to the Naga, including the power to shape shift into human form and walk among man. (One of the questions at the ordination of monks inquires whether the applicant is human, just to make sure its not a sneaky serpent in disguise.) Buddhist scriptures describe a variety of killing methods available to the Naga, including a fatal poisonous bite, the strength to constrict its victims within its deadly coils, and the ability to spit a paralyzing venom.
What could be the trick of this one?!

Most ominous of all, the Naga is said to be able to kill simply by staring into the eyes of its victims. – I can fully believe that looking into these eyes!

– the last bit will be about Nagas in Isaan, including those fireballs –

4 responses to “Land of Nagas: Part 2

  1. Even-headed nagas? I’d surely like to see one! Or who knows, maybe I did, but glanced over it, because I didn’t know its significance. There is plenty of ancient Thai artwork showing Khmer influence, so from now on, I’ll be on the lookout for even-headed nagas. Kind of like finding a four-leaf cover, no? 😉

    Many fantastic abilities are attributed to the Naga, including the power to shape shift into human form and walk among man.

    Yes, and this was the cause of quite a few calamities. The naga king can be evil too, if he wants to. There is the story of Nang Ai, a beautiful girl whom the Naga prince wanted to abduct. First he appeared in human form to seduce her, but the girl wasn’t interested, as she had a husband already (I forgot his name).

    So then the naga prince turned himself into a white fluffy rabbit, to lure the girl out of safety to kidnap her. However, the husband saw through the trick, and ordered to kill the rabbit (or was is squirrel?). Its meat was cut up and distributed amongst the folkspeople, but they noticed a peculiar thing: the more they cut, the more flesh appeared!

    Eventually the angry naga king appeared on the scene, flooded and destroyed the city. Nang Ai and his husband tried to flee on horseback, but the king overtook them, killed the guy and took Nang Ai down to his subterranean kingdom.
    According to the legend, the men who refused to eat from the cut meat were spared…

    And the Naga king had a brief appearance in the Ramakien too! Towards the end of the story, when Nang Sida and Phra Ram had an argument, Phra Ram wanted to re-capture her, but the Naga King provided refuge for the poor woman. 😉 \\

    Naga is said to be able to kill simply by staring into the eyes of its victims.

    I found this out by my own experience, before I even knew what a “naga” was. You see, I was exploring a ruin somewhere in the Angkor Thom region of Cambodia, when I found this old, battered statue laying in the corner. It had three heads, or maybe more, I don’t remember. There was some kind of an artifact laying on a pedestal before the statue. When I lifted the artifact, a necklace, there was a trigger mechanism underneath, and I could feel searing pain, and life seeping slowly away from my body, while hearing an evil, hissing whisper “Give it baaack”.

    Luckily, I remembered having a similar necklace in my inventory, so I quickly put that one in place of the other, and voila! the pain and the voice ceased suddenly. And this was just one of the many instances where my character was nearly killed in Eternal Darkness: Sanities Requiem, a game for the GameCube. 😀

  2. Will Barclay

    I am sure you must have seen the strange photograph of the “Queen of Nagas”, seized by the American Army from the Mekong River, Laos Military Base on June 27, 1973 with a length of 7.80 metres. The picyure shows the huge eel-like creature being supported by 16 young soldiers. The remarkable head has large, pale blue eyes. If you Google “Queen of Nagas” you can find copies of the picture.

  3. i really like the explaination and i have a question have you seen a real one at all

  4. Barney Chanady

    Wow, I never knew that this was possible.