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Oriental China - Fabulous Animals Lion

( Originally Published 1911 )

The fabulous animals and birds are few ; most of them are, however, met with so frequently on porcelain that it is necessary to be quite familiar with these fantastic creatures in order to grasp the meaning of the Chinese decoration. The fang-hoang-, a singular and immortal bird, is dealt with elsewhere. The animals are four in number—the dragon, the kylin, the dog of Fo, and the tortoise with a hairy tail. The last was an emblem of longevity, and is usually an attendant on the god of longevity. Another power was its ability to assume various transformations, and still a third was its enormous strength. We shall only emphasise here the differences between the kylin and the dog of Fo, to which the name kylin is so often erroneously applied. The kylin resembles a stag in its body, whilst the dog of Fo is much more like a lion; in fact, with its head, face, mane, teeth, and claws, it does not require a vivid imagination to take it for a lion. The lion and the unicorn may fairly indicate the dog of Fo and the kylin.

We show a pair of so-called kylins, the one playing with a cub and the other holding a sacred ball; the bodies of brilliant green enamel, with decorations of aubergine, yellow, and black ; supported on square pedestals, the fronts having a bold diaper design, the sides decorated with butterflies and flowers in aubergine, green, yellow, and black, on a pale apple-green ground; on the back of each pedestal are four sacred emblems in aubergine, green, and yellow, on biscuit. Ming.

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