Guardian Lion: Male & Female
The pair of Guardian Lion at the entrance of Penn Museum was made in Ming Dynasty and was originally displayed at the entrance to a building in the Imperial City, Beijing, China. The lions are in pair. The male lion is on the left playing with a ball, representing the world and power. The female lion is on the right playing with her baby, representing the nature and generations. We are not sure how the lions travelled all the way to the U.S. It could be during the occupation of Beijing by multinational forces led by Britain in 1900.
Guardian Lions in Chinese Culture.
In Tang Dynasty (618 – 907), the style of Guardian Lions was combined with Buddhism culture. Guardian lions were thought to be the protectors of the truth. The sculptures were mostly made in stone and placed in imperial tombs as the protectors. In Song Dynasty, Guardian Lions started to evolve from tombs to everyday life. Apart from imperial graveyards, the lions were placed in temples, residence, and gardens. More decorations such as bells and necklet were added to the design. The Guardian lions were seen less in tombs or temples and more in residences and bridges in Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty. They gradually became an important representation of the culture was believed to bring luck.
Guardian Lions and Feng Shui
Guardian Lions are believed to bring luck and exorcise evil spirits. However, it is important to know the correct placement according to feng shui. Some of the rules are:
- Place it in North or Northwest. Lions were introduced from the West. Therefore, it is believed to be placed in the west. According to Wu Xing (“five-element” theory), lion’s elements is metal. It belongs to Qian of the eight symbols. Qian’s direction is northwest. Therefore, Guardian Lions, especially those made in gold or copper, should be placed in northwest or west.
- Guardian lions must be placed in pairs. According to Chinese custom, male lion needs to be places on the left and female lion needs to be placed on the right.
- Guardian lions are usually placed in front of entrance facing outside in order to block evil spirits and protect the place.