Yaozhou stoneware model of a recumbent lion
A yaozhou stoneware model of a recumbent lion. The animal turns its head toward the right side of its body, with ears folded down, its four legs tucked under its body and paws resting flat on the ground. The round eyes, strong jaw, and curly mane are well defined. The tail is curled around the hindquarters. The surface is covered in a lustrous translucent olive-green glaze, which pools to a slightly darker colour in the recesses. The base is recessed and unglazed, showing the original buff body.
In China, lions were admired for their strength and courage, and were associated with military and hunting prowess. Lions (shi) were not indigenous to China, but were known in Iran and the Near East where they were associated with royalty. It was in India where they acquired religious meaning as temple guardians, and they were later known in China as ‘protectors of Buddhism’. Real lions were actually sent to China as tribute as early as 87 BC.1 Small ceramic lion models were produced earlier, such as a Tang dynasty (618 – 906) seated lion paperweight made in the Changsha kiln  or a Five Dynasties (907 – 960) example produced in the Yue kiln. Lion figures produced in the Yaozhou kiln are extremely rare. Fragments of three comparable small lion figures and some oil lamps in the form of a recumbent lion were unearthed from the Yaozhou kiln site at Huangbaozhen, Tongchuan county, Shaanxi province. A further comparable lion figure in the form of an incense burner top, dated to the Northern Song dynasty, is in the collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art.
- Welch, P. B. Chinese Art- A Guide to Motifs and Visual Imagery, Tuttle Publishing, Singapore, 2012, p. 135
- The example was illustrated in Li, H. B, ed. The Complete Works of Chinese Ceramics, vol.6 – Tang and Five Dynasties, Shanghai People’s Publishing House, Shanghai, 2000, no. 19, p. 38
- This lion figure was unearthed from Zhejiang, and now is in the Zhejiang Provincial Museum. See Ho, Chuimei, New Light on Chinese Yue and Longquan Wares- Archaeological Ceramics Found in Eastern and Southern Asian, AD. 800- 1400, Centre of Asian Studies, the University of Hong Kong, 1994, pl.2-D, p. 19
- Institute of Archaeology, Shaanxi Province and Yaozhou Kilns Museum, The Yaozhou Kiln Site of the Song Period, Cultural Relics Publishing House, Beijing, 1998, pls. CXX 1-3,
- The Cleveland Museum of Art online collection archive, The Fanny Tewksbury King Collection 1966.26
宋至金 十二 – 十三世紀
長：7.5公分 寬：4 公分