The safekeeping lion
Did you see the lions outside of your neighborhood Chinese restaurant?
Not long ago, those lions were exclusive for the elite – if it’s the imperial family, leaders, government high ranking or plain rich people.
The lions were meant to protect them from evil, to serve as their “protectors of the realm”.
The lions (animal) were brought to the Han court (yard) at around 200 BC, as a gift, by Persian emissaries.
The name the Chinese use for it – 獅 (shī), is actually taken from the Persian word šer, I assume as a courtesy.
Lions statues and figurines can be found all over China at the entrances to important places, bridges for safe passage, on doors (as knockers or even handles) and even imparial seals were often decorated with one.
You will find the lions mostly in China but during the years it spread throughout the world, so it will be in other places as well.
If you visit in Beijing, you can take a look at the lions which guard the forbidden city – stand high and strong for over 500 years.
At summer palace, you will find a lot of figurines (hundreds) – none of them looks like another..!
And if you were wondering where is the most impressive lion though, you’ll be surprised to learn that it’s not in the capital, but in the city of Cangzhou, Hebei Province – weigh 49 tons and stand high as 5 meters (and over).
Often the lion will hold something that will look like a ball – this is quite interesting.
The reason the lion is holding a ball, is because in the old days the beast was trained and tamed and was actually quite playful (as a lion can be) – so the ball is to symbolize that time.
This was a short intro to lion 101.
Have a good one,