Tianjin Garden Chinese Lion Guardians unknown

Maker unknown

Registration number

1091457

Artist/maker

Maker unknown

Title

Tianjin Garden Chinese Lion Guardians

Production date

unknown

Medium

Sichuan white marble

Dimensions (H x W x D)

180 cm (lion, height)

Credit line

Gift of the City of Tianjin
City of Melbourne Art and Heritage Collection

Keywords

Tianjin Garden Chinese Lion guardians, Cohen Place, Chinatown, Tianjin, Sister city

Summary

Location: Cohen Place, Chinatown

In Cohen Place, just off the main artery of Chinatown, two marble lions stand sentry at the door to the Chinese Museum.

Often called Fu Lions (Lions of Buddha or Rui Shi), guardian lions first appeared during the Han Dynasty (206 BC–220 AD), after early travelers first saw them at Buddhist temples in India. The lions were thought to have mythic power and were stationed at temple doors to protect the dharma. In China they were traditionally placed at the gates to imperial palaces and tombs, temples and government offices to ward off evil and misfortune, but over the centuries they’ve shifted into the more popular realm, now even featuring outside supermarkets. They most commonly appear in pairs, the male lion playing with a ball (representing the world) and positioned to the right of the doorway, and the female, depicted with a cub (representing the family), positioned to the left.

They were a gift from the city of Tianjin, in recognition of Melbourne as its sister city.