Tianjin Garden Chinese Lion Guardians unknown
Tianjin Garden Chinese Lion Guardians
Sichuan white marble
Dimensions (H x W x D)
180 cm (lion, height)
Gift of the City of Tianjin
City of Melbourne Art and Heritage Collection
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.