Naga Pelangi - The Name

Nāga is a Sanskrit word and means snake. It depicts a mythical snake like creature in the Mahābhārata. For lack of another word, modern Malay uses this Sanskrit word to denominate the Chinese symbol of the dragon.

Pelangi is a Malay word and means rainbow. Therefore in todays Malaysia, Naga Pelangi means Rainbow Dragon. But the name has a deeper meaning, considering the significance of the word Nāga in the olden days.


A SE-Asian Nāga

All over South East Asia, in Burmese, Thai, Vietnamese, Lao, Khmer and pre-islamic Malay culture we find the Nāga, a mythical creature, half snake, half dragon in various forms.

For the pre-islamic Malays the Nāga was a deity living in the sea and was held in great esteem by the seafarers.

Sacrifices were offered to her for an auspicious journey.

The figurehead of their craft was frequently a carved Nāga.



The figurehead "gobel"

This detailed carving was reduced to a stylised carving in islamic times, due to the strict picture ban of this religion.The figurehead of a Malay pinas is called "gobel" and one may guess the old Nāga still shining through.