I have always had a fascination with guardian lions. Despite the fact lions are quite violent creatures that likely caused much havoc when we humans roamed the African plains, we seem to be drawn to their form. The oldest known lion depiction is a 32,000 year old cave painting in Germany. Apparently the Europeans have always loved the lion. Of course the Chinese have used lion garden statuary for centuries, from about the 5th century BC. Interestingly , lions were not native to China and the first sculptures were somewhat odd looking. They got better once the lion was imported from India, but they are still quite stylized. Here is a set of bookends I purchased while in Beijing:
For me the fascination is not so much with strength and power most often associated with these symbols. For me I prefer the status and romanticism that they conjure...of the old English variety... overgrown with ivy, protecting a crumbling, haughty residence. I suppose at heart, I feel I belong in such a grand English country estate, shut off from the world by an ornate iron gate and two stunning lion sculptures, where my days are spent throwing elaborate themed parties and wandering the moors writing poetry. Well, I have yet to acquire the country estate, however, I am happy to announce I am now the proud owner of a lion sculpture which guards the front door of my one-bedroom condo. Please see above, the beautiful photo taken by my fabulous photographer- Michael Tallman (http://www.michael-tallman.com/). Next week he will be supplying photos of the entire condo for your viewing pleasure.
Besides all the connotations of pedigree and old money, probably the thing I enjoy most about lion statuary is the wide variety of expressions and the distinct personalities they seem to present to the viewer. Of course, many are just plain regal and dignified such as these classics:
The NY Public Library lions:
And the Trafalgar Square lions:
Some are quietly distinguished and look almost sweet and cuddly, like the lions in front of Anthony's antique shop here is SLC:
And others look terribly stern; not so intimidating, more like a strict principal such as this one in New York's Upper East Side:
However, many are not quite as dignified...
Here is another set at Anthony's...he looks a bit shell shocked doesn't he? Quite surprised to see anyone at the gate at all. More frightened of the camera than frightening:
My father's lion shield which I cannot wait to inherit one day... even if he is ever so slightly goofy looking:
And these guys just look annoyed:
Understandable when you see what they are in fact guarding (not exactly a chateau):
So what about mine? Well, I feel he is quite catty and sinuous....he evokes memories of the antagonist from the Lion King....what was his name again? Scar?
While he is trying to be fierce, he comes across as more than a bit bitchy. Look at that roar:
And look at this pronounced spine...is he starving himself for some event?
And that tail...not exactly manly...this is a sensuous lion. The first gay lion sculpture perhaps?
Please come back next week for the full effect of his surroundings!