Seeking Stone Carvings of Lion and Qilin ( Keelin in Hokkien )   Leave a comment

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We. Eng Soon, Teong from HTT Padang and myself, went on a search and seek mission for either two stone carvings of Lion or Qilin or Keelin. These two stone carved Lions or Qilins or Keelins shall be placed outside a Temple, Association or Clans’ Temples. Hok Tek Tong, a Twa Peh Kong Temple in Padang, Sumatera, Indonesia wanted to purchase two Stone Guardian Lions or Qilins for their Temple on occasion of their 160th Anniversary next year of 2013. Armed with photostat copies of photographs of both creatures we visited two agents for such stone carvings which are usually imported fronm China. There are various sizes available and also one can also place make-to-order sizes. Quotations were obtained for 1.6 metred size, 1-8 metred size and that of the preferred 2.0 metred. It was estimated that a 2.0 metre sized qilin made of the premium green stone will weigh about 2.3 tons each with the stone base. The quality of the stone to be used also plays a big part in the eventual pricing plus the container cost to Belawan Port near Medan. A stone carving can cost RM15,000.00 to RM20,000.00 each excluding transportation and customs duties. The carvings of the stone carvings shall commenced in the factories in China and shall be completed in 3 to 4 months’ time including shipment to Penang Port. From Penang, the stone lions shall probably be transported by sea to Sumatera. Indonesia for HTT.

SP Lim

From Wikipedia
Chinese guardian lions, known as Shishi (Chinese: 石獅; pinyin: shíshī; literally “stone lion”) or Imperial guardian lion, and often incorrectly called “Foo Dogs” in the West, are a common representation of the lion in pre-modern China. They have traditionally stood in front of Chinese Imperial palaces, Imperial tombs, government offices, temples, and the homes of government officials and the wealthy, from the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220), and were believed to have powerful mythic protective benefits. Pairs of guardian lions are still common decorative and symbolic elements at the entrances to restaurants, hotels, supermarkets and other structures, with one sitting on each side of the entrance, in China and in other places around the world where the Chinese people have immigrated and settled, especially in local Chinatowns.

The lions are always created in pairs, with the male resting his paw upon the world and the female restraining a playful cub that is on its back. They occur in many types of Chinese pottery and in Western imitations.


The lions are traditionally carved from decorative stone, such as marble and granite or cast in bronze or iron. Because of the high cost of these materials and the labor required to produce them, private use of guardian lions was traditionally reserved for wealthy or elite families. Indeed, a traditional symbol of a family’s wealth or social status was the placement of guardian lions in front of the family home. However, in modern times less expensive lions, mass produced in concrete and resin, have become available and their use is therefore no longer restricted to the elite.

The lions are always presented in pairs, a manifestation of yin and yang, the female representing yin and the male yang. The male lion has its right front paw on an embroidered ball called a “xiù qiú” (绣球), which is sometimes carved with a geometric pattern known in the West as the “Flower of life” The female is essentially identical, but has a cub under the closer (left) paw to the male, representing the cycle of life. Symbolically, the female fu lion protects those dwelling inside, while the male guards the structure. Sometimes the female has her mouth closed, and the male open. This symbolizes the enunciation of the sacred word “om”. However, Japanese adaptions state that the male is inhaling, representing life, while the female exhales, representing death. Other styles have both lions with a single large pearl in each of their partially opened mouths. The pearl is carved so that it can roll about in the lion’s mouth but sized just large enough so that it can never be removed.

According to feng shui, correct placement of the lions is important to ensure their beneficial effect. When looking out of a building through the entrance to be guarded, looking in the same direction as the lions, the male is placed on the left and the female on the right. So when looking at the entrance from outside the building, facing the lions, the male lion with the ball is on the right, and the female with the cub is on the left.

The Qilin (Chinese: 麒麟; pinyin: qílín; Wade–Giles: ch’i-lin) is a mythical hooved Chinese chimerical creature known throughout various East Asian cultures, and is said to appear with the imminent arrival or passing of a wise sage or an illustrious ruler.[1] It is a good omen that brings rui (Chinese: 瑞; pinyin: ruì; roughly translated as “serenity” or “prosperity”). It is often depicted with what looks like fire all over its body. It is sometimes misleadingly called the “Chinese unicorn” due to conflation with the unicorn by Westerners.

I loved words. I love to sing them and speak them and even now, I must admit, I have fallen into the joy of writing them. — Anne Rice

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