Naga ring

Exquisitely fashioned from 22 carat gold, the ring takes the shape of a coiled naga. The tip of its tail coils close beside the band, and the body spirals around the finger, culminating in a powerful face with bulging eyes, upturned snout, and mouth with fanged teeth and extended tongue. The serpent’s scales are individually articulated along the full surface. Left intentionally loose by the artisan, the tongue moves in and out, simulating a living creature.

Historical period(s)
Bangkok period, 19th century
Medium
Gold
Dimensions
H x W x D: 3.5 × 3 × 1.5 cm (1 3/8 × 1 3/16 × 9/16 in)
Geography
Thailand, Rattanakosin
Credit Line
Purchase — funds provided by the Friends of the Freer and Sackler Galleries
Collection
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
S2018.5
On View Location
Sackler Gallery 26b: Power in Southeast Asia
Classification(s)
Jewelry and Ornament, Metalwork
Type

Ring

Keywords
Bangkok period (1782 - ), dragon, Thailand
Provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Description

Exquisitely fashioned from 22 carat gold, the ring takes the shape of a coiled naga. The tip of its tail coils close beside the band, and the body spirals around the finger, culminating in a powerful face with bulging eyes, upturned snout, and mouth with fanged teeth and extended tongue. The serpent’s scales are individually articulated along the full surface. Left intentionally loose by the artisan, the tongue moves in and out, simulating a living creature.

Label

Prevalent throughout South and Southeast Asian art, serpents, called nagas, are positive symbols. They are the guardians of 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.

Exquisitely fashioned from 22 carat gold, the ring takes the shape of a coiled naga. The tip of its tail lies close beside the band, and the body spirals around the finger. It culminates in a powerful face with bulging eyes, upturned snout, and mouth with fanged teeth and extended tongue. The serpent's scales are individually articulated along the full surface. Left intentionally loose by the artisan, the tongue moves in and out, simulating a living creature.

Large and imposing in appearance, this ring was an elite commission. The auspicious naga design was exclusive to the Thai royal family, the serpent's potency and power befitting of a king. The ring was most likely made for or on behalf of King Rama V, the legendary King Chulalongkorn who ascended the throne in 1868 and ushered Thailand into an era of reform and democracy. Cosmopolitanism characterizes King Rama V's prolific artistic and architectural enterprises. Through motifs such as the naga, his commissions further reflect Thailand's deep historical connections across South and Southeast Asia.

Collection Area(s)
Southeast Asian Art
Web Resources
F|S Southeast Asia
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