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Saturday, October 24, 2020
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Stone Lion

Stone Lion

In the minds of Chinese, lion is the Magical Beast King of all animals. Wherever one goes, one can see lions made of stone.

As Chinese regard lion as a symbol of auspiciousness, bravery and power, stone lions of all kinds are often placed in front of palaces, mansions, houses and tombs to guard against evil. But there were rules about it in ancient days. Normally, a male lion was placed on the left side of gate with its right paw on a ball. which is a symbol of power. A female lion was placed on the right side of gate with its left paw fondling a small cub, which is a symbol of a prosperous lineage.

In Chinese history, Beijing served as the capital for five dynasties. So, there exists numerous stone lions of various types inside and outside the city. The largest pair stands in front of Tian'anmen Gate, while the oldest pair guards the entrance to Altar of Land and Grain in Zhongshan Park. The balustrades of Lugou Bridge in the western suburbs of Beijing are carved with numerous lions, hence the saying, "as many as the lions of Lugou Bridge, too numerous to count". Stone lions we see today in Beijing were mostly carved during Ming (1369 - 1644) and Qing (1644 - 1911) dynasties. They look rather mild. Powerful and fierce-looking stone lions carved in the heyday of Han (206 BC - 220 AD) and Tang (618 - 907) dynasties can be found only in Xi'an - another ancient capital.

Today, stone lions also appear at the entrance to banks, office buildings, parks or even in the street. Lion is said to be fond of the legendary luminous pearl. So, most stone lions have a movable stone pearl held in the mouth.

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