statue of a lion, c. seventeenth century, Qing Dynasty, China (possibly Beijing)
University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
Pairs of lion statues frequently decorated the entrances of both temples and private residences in Qing China. However, as the species was not indigenous and was only known through second-hand accounts, these lion statues were often modeled on a combination of the tiger and the Pekingese pug. The male of the pair (pictured here) was distinguished from the female, who was also given a mane, by the orb beneath his foot, possibly associated with the zhu, the pearl of supremacy and the symbol of sovereign authority. The female was instead depicted with a lion cub under her paw.