The Naga

A naga (a serpent, in this case with five heads) guarding the entrance of a Thai Buddhist temple.

Naga is a Sanskrit word meaning serpent. In Buddhism (the local version, anyway), when the Buddha was approaching enlightenment it began to rain. The naga lifted its hooded heads above him to protect him from the rain. There are some Buddha images showing this. Ever since, the naga has been a protector of things Buddhist. I took a particular liking to this one.