Ritual vessel with naga

Historical period(s)
14th - 16th century
Copper alloy
H x W x D: 11.4 × 22.9 × 16.5 cm (4 1/2 × 9 × 6 1/2 in)
Indonesia, East Java
Credit Line
Collection of Ann and Gilbert Kinney
Accession Number
On View Location
Sackler Gallery 26b: Power in Southeast Asia
Metalwork, Vessel


bottle, Hinduism, Indonesia, Java, naga
Provenance information is currently unavailable

Known as nagas, serpents are powerful symbols in South and Southeast Asia. They guard the watery underworld, where they reside in jeweled palaces and protect corals and pearls. In Southeast Asia, nagas also represent the bridge that connects the human and divine worlds.

Nagas are therefore among the most prevalent signs in Indonesian art, ranging from relief carvings and architectural elements to ritual objects. In this ritual water vessel, the naga's tail forms the handle, and its mouth serves as the spout. Flowing through the naga's mouth imbued the water with sanctity. Nagas are said to carry jewels on their heads, seen here as a conical bump.

Published References
  • Nandana Chutiwongs. Bronze Ritual Implements in the Majapahit Period: Meaning and Function. No. 6, vol. 30 Hong Kong. pp. 69-84, p. 74, fig. 10.
Collection Area(s)
Southeast Asian Art
Web Resources
F|S Southeast Asia
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