An Asian Bestiary | Snake
TOY, ZODIAC ANIMAL SET, SNAKE
Catalog No: 70.3/ 5698 F
The snake is the sixth of twelve animals in the East Asian zodiac associated with a lunar calendar. Each year is associated with the name and attributes of a particular animal in the twelve year zodiac cycle. Just as a snake sheds its skin and slithers quickly, persons born in the year of the snake are said to be adaptable leaders and fast thinkers. The snake is crafty, intelligent, and somewhat conniving; when the animals of the zodiac raced to determine their order in the cycle, the snake is said to have hitched a ride in the horse’s hoof and jumped out just in time to finish sixth. This snake toy from Vietnam is from a set of the twelve zodiac animals made by Mr. Hoang Ba Phat who produced traditional clay toys for the Mid-Autumn festival.
DRAWING, SNAKE GOD
Catalog No: 70.2/ 2989 C
Hindu mythology is heavily populated with snakes. In Nepal, the snake deity Nag (or Naga) is said to have ruled over Katmandu when it was a vast lake. When humans began to drain the lake and build settlements, Nag became angry and caused crops and rain to fail. The festival of Nag Panchami is a Hindu celebration of cobras – called nagas – meant to appease Nag and his descendants. Families make offerings of incense and milk to the nagas to ensure the fertility of their fields and the prosperity of crop. They decorate their walls and doorways with images of nagas similar to this one in a wish for protection and good fortune. This drawing – depicting Ses-Nag, the king of the snakes, and his daughter Nag-kanne along with other waterlife – is one of several images created by Tilak Bahadur Khattri Chettri, a clerk in a small city about 100 miles from Katmandu, Nepal.
 
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