THE GUARDIAN LIONS OF THE FORBIDDEN CITY, BEIJING
While flying to Perth, Australia on a pet sitting assignment in October, 2017, we were routed via Beijing. Here was a great opportunity to visit the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace.
When Buddhism came to China, it brought with it the symbol of the lion which the Chinese had never seen in the wild. These magestic creatures soon became the symbol of the reigning emperor. The Gate of Supreme Harmony (within the Forbidden City of Beijing) is guarded by a pair of bronze lions. These belong to the Qing dynasty (1368–1644).
Chinese guardian lions are always created in pairs, with the male playing with a ball and the female with a cub. They are not physically correct anatomies of lions, but symbolic statues as seen in their often demonic faces.
The male lion holds the world in his paw symbolizes power.
The lionesse, who holds a cub in her paw symbolizes longevity.