Dragons in Tibetan art are often indistinguishable from nagas, or serpents, which appear in both Hindu mythology and northern Buddhism. Naga/dragons are of four main kinds:
- celestial, guarding the mansions of the gods
- aerial, causing winds and rain to benefit human beings
- earthly, marking the courses of rivers and streams
- guardians of hidden treasures
Tibetan dragons often hold a jewel in each of their clawed feet, performing the traditional function as guardians of wealth, spiritual as well as physical.