Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Naga - naughty or nice?

[Image of Devika, the Naga in "Magical Creations" drawn by me]

A strange creature stood before her (although standing didn’t correctly define the stance). The head and torso of the creature was an immensely beautiful woman, draped in a woolen pashmina. Antigone’s gaze followed down the woman’s body. She stared curiously for a long moment before her brain could accept what her eyes were seeing. The woman’s torso disappeared into the tail of an enormous snake. Antigone blinked, the creature’s skin glittered with a diamond-like sparkle under the dull fluorescence of the warehouse lighting, and her eyes, serpentine slits in an impossibly perfect face, studied Antigone with shrewd intelligence. The long greenish tail flicked and twitched, drawing Antigone’s attention to the guard of dull-eyed Hunters behind her. Antigone recognized the creature as a Naga, part human, part snake, capable of great benevolence or great malevolence depending on the mood.

[Excerpt from "Magical Creations", available now.]

Allow me to introduce you to another of my favourite Mythological creatures. The Naga (click on the link if you want to read the Wiki entry). There are many various types of Naga throughout history, so naturally I chose the type that most suited my book. In general however, all Naga's have some similar characteristics irrespective of their origins. They are all large, intelligent and snake-like.

[Naga Kanya statuette from Nepal, guardian of riches from the Deep]

Naga's can be found in Hindu and Buddhist mythology and folk law. Some are described (like Devika) as being human from the waist up and serpentine from the waist down. Other depictions give them seven heads, or describe them as simply massive snakes.
Carved stone Naga's can be found in many Hindu temples in India and Southeast Asia, and the balustrade leading to the main entrance of Cambodia's Angkor Wat is composed of stone Nagas. The Ancient Cambodian kings claimed to be descended from the union of a banished Hindu prince and a serpent woman. Which is a pretty cool claim to fame, if I do say so. 

Personality wise, again, the Naga varies. Some are considered to be kind and benevolent protectors, whilst others such as in the Hindu epic Mahabharata are the venomous persecutors of other creatures. In Tibet it is said that Naga's dwell in the lakes and underground streams, and guard magical gems/precious stones. They are also said to protect the purity of the water and natural environment - and fiercely retaliate against any who disturb it... I think we could do with some of these Nagas in Western Australia! 

If you're interested in Naga's there are some interesting sites out there;


  1. I love reading your blog posts on the mythological creatures, and I've never heard of the Naga before. Fascinating.

  2. Yes, they are fascinating. I've seen them used in two other books. Laurell K Hamilton uses them in one of her Anita Blake books (in the form of half human/half snake, and Nagini (Lord Voldemort's snake) in Harry Potter is probably a Naga too though in sole snake form.

  3. Actually and now I think of it, in one of my children's movies (a version of Aladdin) Princess Jasmine drinks a poison and becomes a very toxic Naga type creature. She looked pretty cool I thought!