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HOME : Chinese Art : Ming Dynasty : Ming Dynasty Painted Male Lion
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Ming Dynasty Painted Male Lion - DL.1002
Origin: China
Circa: 1368 AD to 1644 AD
Dimensions: 12.4" (31.5cm) high x 11.4" (29.0cm) wide
Collection: Chinese
Medium: Terracotta
Condition: Extra Fine


Location: UAE
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Description
The Fu Lion, or Fu Dog as it is also known, is a ubiquitous symbol that has been employed repeatedly throughout the history of China. Sometimes referred to as the “Dog of Happiness” or the “Celestial Dog,” the earliest traces of the Fu Dog in China date to the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-220 A.D.). Then it disappeared from Chinese art until it was resurrected during the cultural revival experienced during the Tang Dynasty (618-906 A.D.). While lions are not native to China, works of art with lion imagery from other civilizations were imported into China as gifts for the Emperor. The Fu Lion was brought into China with the arrival of Buddhism, where it became associated with the more familiar dog during assimilation. The lion is a sacred creature in the Buddhist pantheon and the Fu Lion was believed to be a companion of the Buddha.

While sculptures of Fu Dogs originally stood guard outside of Buddhist temples, by the time of the Ming Dynasty, when this work was created, the dogs had lost most of their religious significance and were placed outside the entrances to homes and palaces out of custom. Even today, many monumental public buildings are decorated with lion figures standing guard at the base of the stairway. This male lion has his front paw resting on a ball. This traditional gesture symbolizes the lion’s authority over evil spirits that might have tried to infiltrate the temple or palace. The delicate colouring, in tones of red, blue and yellow is particularly fine. The lion’s wide open mouth and protruding tongue have been expertly sculpted. The care lavished on this magnificent creation is also apparent in the swirling motifs, achieved through the use of incised lines, that decorate the plinth. (AM) - (DL.1002)

 

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