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Chinese Lion Kings: Winged Lions, Foo Dogs and Gaimei

June 1, 2019 - General
A pair of wooden shiziguo type lions decorated with gilt and polychrome.  The female has a cub, symbolizing a happy family.  Chinese, early Ching Dynasty (Image: © Walther G. von Krenner)

The King of the Beasts triumphs in Chinese mythology, albeit in many shapes and forms. Chinese artists combined different creatures’ attributes to create a composite beast, which they called pixiu (pi-hsieh).  The term is commonly used to refer to any animal amalgam (and there are many in Chinese mythology), but used properly, pixiu is the name of a specific fanciful creature which resembles a lion with wings.  Such chimerical creatures are described in Chinese literature and appear in paintings and sculptures, but their discernment is problematic, because there are so many minute differences between animal types and subtypes. 

Striding Lion from Processional Way in Babylon, Neo-Babylonian Period, c. 604-562 BC, molded and glazed brick - Oriental Institute Museum, University of Chicago (Public Domain)

Striding Lion from Processional Way in Babylon, Neo-Babylonian Period, c. 604-562 BC, molded and glazed brick – Oriental Institute Museum, University of Chicago (Public Domain)

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Source: origins

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