The Phaya Naga
iPhoneOgraphy – 10 Apr 2016 (Day 101/366)
The Phaya Naga (Thai: phaya nak) are nāga, mythical serpent-like creatures, believed by locals to live in the Mekong river or estuaries. Some have tried to explain sightings as oarfish, elongate fish with red crests; however these are exclusively marine and usually live at great depths. People in both Laos and Thailand attribute the naga fireballs to these creatures.
Lao mythology maintains that the Nāga are the protectors of Vientiane, and by extension, the Lao state. The Nāga association was most clearly articulated during and immediately after the reign of Anouvong. An important poem from this period San Lup Bo Sun (or San Leupphasun Lao) discusses relations between Laos and Siam in a veiled manner, using the Nāga and the Garuda, to represent Laos and Siam, respectively. The Naga is incorporated extensively into Lao iconography, and features prominently in Lao culture throughout the length of the country, not only in Vientiane.