One of the most exotic sculptural forms in Southeast Asia, the naga, a sea dragon with a high curving spire, is seen at temple entrances an on roofs. This 19th century carved teak wood naga was once a finial on a temple roof in Thailand. The mythical serpent is said to have protected the Buddha from lightning as he sat meditating under a bodhi tree and so is used to guard against evil spirits, particularly natural disasters. When in use at temples, the sculptures generally are covered in colorful tiles and bright paint. When they weather and lose the tiles, as this one has done, the wonderful shapes are emphasized. A trace of red remains on this figure, which is mounted on a black metal base. Dimensions: height 32" (81 cm), width 12" (30 cm), depth (at base) 4" (10 cm).