A sinuous carved teakwood naga, nearly three feet in length, carries a half bird, half man kinnari braced in front of its long curved naga neck like a ship's figurehead. This late 19th century folk carving, resplendent with symbolism, once graced the front of a Burmese bullock cart. A primary means of family transportation in old Burma, wood bullock carts were customized with carved iconic figures meant to ensure the well being of family members. This naga carries figures representing the family--the mother stands gracefully on the naga's back, father is spread out atop the head, and son perched rather precariously on the naga's snout. The naga, a mythical sea creature, is a revered form in Southeast Asia, and is said to have protected the Buddha from lightning as he meditated under the bodhi tree. Because of that association, the naga is used as a protector against natural disasters and often is found as an architectural element on Buddhist temples. The long serpentine body of this naga ends in a crocodile-like head, also a Buddhist symbol, that represents victory against disharmony. The kinnari, with the torso of a man and the tail and feet of a bird, is another mythical creature from the Buddhist/Hindu pantheon found throughout Southeast Asia. This carving is in excellent condition except for the broken left forearm of the father figure (see our photo enlargement #7). The naga stands upright on its own, does not require a base and would look interesting displayed on a shallow shelf against a light wall. Dimensions: length 34" (87 cm), height 18" (46 cm), width 3-1/2" (9 cm).