Object: Statuettes


E/1955/18/244
Gilded Brass Lions
Nepal
ca. 1644 – 1949
Materials:  Brass and semi-precious stones

This is a pair of brass lions that have been gilded and inlaid with semi-precious stones.  They wear collars around the neck and have belts around the middle.  They are fastened to jewel-covered brass stands.  The lions each stand 9.75” high.

The pair of lions was produced in Nepal possibly during the time of the Ch’ing Dynasty.  Nepal is a landlocked country in South Asia.  It is bordered to the north by China and to the south, east and west by India.  The Himalaya Mountain Range extends across the country, with eight of the world’s highest mountains, including the highest–Mount Everest — within its borders.

Gilding is the decorative technique of applying fine metallic leaf or powder to solid surfaces such as wood, stone, or metal. Methods of gilding include hand application, chemical gilding, and electroplating.  The pair of lions have been gilded and inlaid with semi-precious polished and cut stones.

The lion has been a symbol of power, courage and majesty throughout the world.  In Nepal, the animal symbolizes the same virtues.  The Nepalese word for “lion” is “singh;” derived from the Sanskrit word “simha” which means “lion.”  The use of “Singh” as a surname was first incorporated by the ancient Ahir kings of Nepal and later by the Rajputs of the 7th century because of the word’s association with power and majesty.

Usually seen in pairs, the lion was regarded as a guardian figure throughout South Asia.  Often called “Fu Dogs” due to the dog-like appearance of the face, the guardian lions were mythical creatures who offered protection to their owners.  The example of lions here were most likely produced as a pair of guardian/protector “Fu Dogs.”  [Debra Taylor]

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