Lot 108
  • 108


60,000 - 80,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Stone
each recumbent animal carved in mirror image and poised on its front legs, its head facing to the side and with a sash in its mouth, one with one cub perched on its back and another under its front left paw, on a rectangular base, the sides carved in relief with scrolling clouds


A Macau Private Collection, 19th century (by repute).

Catalogue Note

The present pair of lions is particular striking for the rendering of their muscular body and intricately combed mane and hair. Traditionally associated with power, stone lions of this type were used as door guardians, placed in front of a main gate or entrance. Large stone animals stem from the Han dynasty (206 BC- AD 220) tradition of placing pairs of animals to line the spirit road leading to important tombs. The fabulous lion stood for strength and security, its decorated collar signifying its allegiance to its owner, and in the context of the spirit road it symbolised the power of the empire. This tradition continued until the end of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) and large stone sculptures of lions are known lining the spirit road at the Mausoleum of the Hongwu Emperor (1368-1398) near Nanjing, Jiangsu province, the tomb of prince Jingfu (d. 1523) in Guilin, Guangxi province and the tomb of prince Lu Jian (d. 1614) in Xinxiang, Henan province, illustrated in Ann Paludan, The Chinese Spirit Road, New Haven, 1991, pls 234, 241 and 244.

This pair of lions is uncommon for its sensitive and somewhat playful modelling, as seen in the small cub perched on the back of the female, and no other closely related example appears to have been published. Compare a pair of similarly modelled recumbent stone lions sold at Christie’s New York, 20th September 2002, lot 195.