Gilt bronze lion paperweight
China, 18th or 19th century
A gilt bronze paperweight in the form of a seated lion dog, resting its right front paw on a ball, its head turned slightly to the right. The lion has a large, upturned tail, the bushy tip of which is situated above his hindquarters. The beast is well defined with pronounced mane and hairs on the back and wears a collar around the neck, to which is attached a large bell. The animal has bulging eyes and curled ears and its jaws are spread wide open to reveal his large teeth. The bronze is covered in a layer of bright gilding.
This charming, quite heavy sculpture would most probably have been used to weigh down papers in a scholar’s studio. According to Bartholomew, the lion is considered to be “The king of beasts” and symbolises protection and harmony.
- Tse Bartholomew, T. Hidden Meanings in Chinese Art, Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, 2006, 1.6.1 p. 34