The Freud Museum

Buddhist Lion Paperweight

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4001, Buddhist Lion Paperweight, Qing Dynasty; 18th - 19th century

Culture: Chinese
Material: Jade
Dimensions: 2 x 1 x 1 in. / 6 x 4 x 3.2 cm.

Since ancient times, jade has been highly valued in China. Originally used only for ritual objects, the stone later began to be used for decorative items as well. This jade paperweight would have adorned a scholar’s desk.

Lions are not native to China and became known through Buddhist iconography brought from India in the third century A.D. Initially depictions of lions represented lions as ferocious beasts, however, by the Ming and Qing Dynasties they took on a more frolicsome, domesticated form. Images of lions became known as dogs of fo (Buddhism), and the Chinese even bred the Pekingese dog to resemble them.

Chinese depictions of lions generally show males playing with a ball and females playing with cubs. This one is a unique combination of male and female attributes: It plays with a tasseled ball and the lion cubs that climb on its back.

See this object on our Collections site here 

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