A Kurlan naiskos was a ceramic figurine statue made by the Kurlan civilization. A naiskos consisted of a large hollow body, of which the top half could be removed to reveal several smaller figurines inside, similar in shape to the original one. Naiskoi reflected Kurlan philosophy in the sense that they believed that an individual was actually a community of individuals, each with their own voice, their own desires and their own view of the world. Ornamentation on the surface of a naiskos indicated which dynasty of the Kurlan civilization it came from. Because the Kurlan civilization died out millennia prior to the 24th century, a complete or intact naiskos was extremely rare, making these highly valuable to collectors and archaeologists.
In 2369, Captain Jean-Luc Picard's former mentor, Professor Richard Galen, gave him a complete and intact Third Dynasty Kurlan naiskos manufactured by the Master of Tarquin Hill; the artifact was more than twelve thousand years old. Picard was clearly moved by this gift.
Because the Master's work anticipated general design trends by approximately three hundred years, Picard's initial assessment was that it was Fifth Dynasty. However, after a prompt from Galen, he made a closer examination and correctly identified it. (TNG: "The Chase")
The naiskos later adorned the captain's ready room until the USS Enterprise-D crashed on Veridian III in 2371. Picard found the top half of the artifact among the ship's wreckage, and after inspecting that it was intact, placed it back onto the floor. (TNG: "Genesis", "Bloodlines", "Preemptive Strike"; Star Trek Generations)
- The Kurlan naiskos prop was created by special effects artist Christopher Bergschneider.
- According to "Trill: Unjoined" in Worlds of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Volume Two, Kurlan naiskos were a Trill art form.
- Naiskos is a real-world archaeological term meaning a small temple-like building (the word is the diminutive of Greek naos, temple), or a container for small votive objects, such as the Kurlan naiskos.