The Image and Form of the Chinese Lion and their Association with Chinese Social Life

By Min-Chia Young.

Published by The Humanities Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

What makes the Chinese lion statuary distinct from the natural world of the zoo is its peculiar look, the look of a domestic pet with an aura of mystery and a taste of supernatural. The taste of supernatural originates from the lion’s assumed form of Buddha; the mysterious aura comes from the lion’s association with Taoist rituals; and the image of a tame animal is a reflection of the conformity from Confucian doctrines. This peculiar form and image of the Chinese lion not only shortens the distance between the temporal and the divine, but also facilitates its use between the ruler and the ruled. This paper examines the changing conceptions of the lion’s image and form and their reflection and interaction with Chinese social life. It proceeds through the analysis of the image of the tomb lions of the Six Dynasties (222-589), which were originally used as subduers of demons, but came to be widely accepted as promoters of prosperity and good fortune during the Tang times, when the change involved the fusion of Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism.

Keywords: Image, Form, Lion, Chinese Social Life

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 6, Issue 7, pp.31-40. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.694MB).

Dr. Min-Chia Young

Research Assistant, Faculty of the Built Environment, University of New South Wales, Kingsford, NSW, Australia

Trained in California State University, Sacramento, as an interior designer, Min-Chia was previously a practicing interior designer and an instructor in a Graphic Design College in Taiwan. He is now working in the University of New South Wales, Australia, as a doctoral student in the Faculty of the Built Environment.

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