This unusual finial has been chased from silver and is in the form of a naga, a semi-divine, protective cobra-like being. The form is seen in association with temples and palaces in the Buddhist countries of Southeast Asia, although the example here with its particularly angular form and spiky features is typically Cambodian.
It comprises a flattened ‘S’-shaped body, a triangular head with a pointed mane and beard elements and wings, a collar decoration and a protruding tongue – all in applied, chased silver.
The naga is mounted on a vase and bud-like support, from which a brass rod protrudes. The brass rod would have allowed the naga to be affixed to the end of a long pole. Possibly, it was used in a monastery or palace as part of the regalia.
The precise form can be seen at Cambodia’s Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, on cast atop bells, light fittings and so on. Examples can be seen in Jeldres & Dayde-Latham (2002, p. 119, 132).
The naga finial is in excellent condition. It retains traces of gilding (gold plating), and originally might have been entirely gilded.
It is accompanied by a small, custom-made stand which allows it to be displayed upright.
Jeldres, J., & B. Dayde-Latham, Le Palais di Roi du Cambodge, Triad Publishing, 2002.