WF74 A bamboo ‘Lion and Cub’ carving


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18th century 

The skilfully carved recumbent lion is depicted with a playful cub climbing  on its back. Both animals are rendered with bulging eyes and heavy bushy brows below well-pronounced bosses covering their heads. Their mouths are half open revealing their fangs and upper teeth.
The larger animal has its head turned backwards with one paw resting on a brocade ball tied with a long ribbon trailing along towards its back paw. 
Both animals are portrayed with hanging leaf-shaped ears and long locks of wavy mane extending down their backs ending in long trifurcated tails.
The patina is of a warm reddish-brown colour.
Length 22 cm

A large lion (dashi 大獅) and a small lion (xiao shi 小獅) is close in pronunciation to tai shi shaoshi 太師少師 (shi meaning 'great master').
The two lions are therefore a pun for ' May you and your descendant achieve high rank'.
The brocade ball tied with long ribbons is a sign of longevity.

See Terese Bartholomew, Hidden Meanings in Chinese Art,  San Francisco, 2006, p. 116

 

 

 

Works of Art > Early Bronzes