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The Stone Lion Statue Investigations

by Diannek



For a number of years now I've been investigating lion statues. Whenever I travel, I take photos. Until I started the investigation, I rarely noticed them. Now I see them everywhere. And I always wonder why. Do Chinese people living in Beijing notice how many lions there are guarding this and that? Do people walking by the New York City Library notice those two lion statues, Patience and Fortitude, guarding the entrance doors?

What makes lion statues so prevalent? A number of answers come to mind: they are easily obtainable at the local cement adornment center. Most societies find it necessary to plant them in front of entrance to public buildings as a symbol of power or fear or even majesty. I've also noticed them at the front of restaurants, or guarding the walkway to a private home, and even in front of a dentist office. Apparently there are no rules regarding when, where or why lion statues are appropriate. They just are.

Lion statue for sale: you can find him
at the lion statue store on Vancouver Island,
British Columbia.

Granted, there is some special symbolic significance about lions: king of the beasts, man-eater, powerful predator, strong, silent, cunning, fast, and above all, very smart. Perhaps just the thought of their fearsomeness will put folks on their best behavior. But it's not working because nobody notices them.

We seem to have lost track of the reasoning behind all these lion statues. There are no wild lions roaming the streets of Paris or London. Yet you will find lions galore if you travel there. Lions adorn flags of many countries that are not even close to Africa. And sadly, Africa is running out of lions. They pester too many villagers. And if I am to believe NPR, there's a lion taco restaurant somewhere in Arizona. Humans are now engaged in eating this man eater. Sounds like we have come full circle. Perhaps it's time that lions begin guarding their lairs by placing statues of human beings at their entrances.

So what follows is a number of images of lion statues that I have collected over the years. Here they are, in no particular order.

Guarding the SF museum
Here's the lion statue is in front of
the Palace of Lion of Honor Museum
in San Francisco
A popular meeting place in Milano
This statue is in the Duomo Piazza 
in Milano, Italy

Here's what Wikipedia says about lion statues: Lions have been an important symbol for thousands of years and appear as a theme in cultures across Europe, Asia, and Africa. Despite the recorded incidents of attacks on humans, lions enjoy positive depiction in popular culture as creatures that appear strong, but gentle at the same time. The most consistent depiction is in keeping with their image of "king of the jungle" or "king of the beasts", hence lions are popular symbols of royalty and stateliness and a symbol of bravery."

Okay, that pretty much follows what I've been thinking, their stateliness is what makes them interesting to us, that and the fact that they are the king of the beasts. Soon all that will be left are the statues.

Here's another lion photo, this one is holding up
the roof of a building in Bergamo, Italy.

Roman lion
Here's a photo of a lion statue found in St. Peter's square, Rome

Venice lion
St. Marcos Square, Venice

From the Phantom's postcard collection
Here's an old postcard that says:
Seated Lion. Limestone. Greek Archaic period. (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

Portland's Chinatown lions
Here's a magnificent Chinese lion that guards the entrance to Portland, Oregon's Chinatown. I wonder what it's guarding?

Here's a half-human, half-lion statue that I've been looking at
for years without really noticing. You will find it in front the
Egyptian Museum in San Jose, California.

This lion guards the Chicago Art Institute on Michigan Avenue.

Here's a postcard of:
Glazed Brick Lion, Babylonian.
VI century BC. (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

Paris lion
Paris lion statue

This is the most unusual lion I ever noticed. He's resting, legless, in the Louvre.

Clever Magazine has been investigating lion statues for years. If you're interested, 
here's the list of articles on the subject so far:

The Investigation begins ~ main page
The Lion of Lucerne ~ the Swiss lion
Lions in Paris ~ Paris photo essay
Confederate Memorial Lion ~ a memorial to Confederate soldiers

If you have any lion photos or information to share, we'd love to hear from you. 
Contact editor@clevermag.com

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