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The above poem was composed by the great Song Dynasty poet So Dong Po who teased his close friend Mr. Chen that was extremely afraid of his wife.

The idiom 河東獅吼 is now widely used to refer to a jealous wife who "howls" at her husband day and night.

In addition to this famous idiom, lion dance -- which is divided into northern and southern schools -- is a compulsory activity during festivals or shop openings.

Now they even hold annual Lion Dance International Tournament that teams from Europe, North America and Japan participate.


Lion is not a native specis in China. In fact, Asia is not the habitat of Lion. Lion only lives in Africa.

So how could Song court officials ever hear of the howling of Lion? How could the populace know about the shape of Lion in medieval China?

And unlike dragon which is only a legendary animal, lion indeed exists.

So it looks very likely that 1,000 years before the famous voyage of Zheng He, there were already regular navigation between East Africa and China.

Moreover, those journeys involved large size ocean going vessels that could carry cages which held lion. Moreover, there were other cages which held other animals like goats and cows for feeding lion in this 6-9 month long journey.

And the journey most likely started from the side of China since China's technology was more advanced than Africa at that time.

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Lion is not [/u']a native specis in China. In fact, Asia is not the habitat of Lion. Lion only lives in Africa.

What about the Asiatic Lion? It is now an endangered species and survives in only a small area of India and Pakistan. Its range once extended all the way from India to Europe.

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If lions are a popular symbol in Chinese culture, I wonder why the tiger is included in the Chinese zodiac and in the buddha story of how the zodiac was created, but not the lion. After all there is a Dragon Dance and a Lion Dance, but no Tiger Dance. :shock:

As far as the buddha story goes,

1) The Rat finished first because of its cunning and intelligence. During the race, the Rat and the Cat faced a huge obstacle, a river with swift currents. Since they couldn't swim, they asked the Ox if they could hitch a ride on its back while it swam across the river. Both the Rat and the Cat said they would let the Ox advance to the finish line first once they got to the other side of the river. While the Ox was treading its way across the river with the Rat and the Cat on its back, the Rat and the Cat got into an argument, after which the Rat pushed the Cat into the river. The Ox, oblivious of all the turmoil on its back, continued to tread along happily. Once the Ox set foot on the opposite side, the Rat hopped off its back and scurried to the finish line. The Buddha then awarded the Rat as the first sign of the zodiac. The Cat finished 13th in the race all wet, but since the Buddha said there can only be 12 slots for the zodiac, the Cat was eliminated. So that is why to this day, the cat and the rat are sworn enemies. Of course, people would say this was a nasty way for the Rat to achieve first place. The Chinese however have a saying which goes something like this, "As long as one knows how to use their head in overcoming obstacles and coming out on top, the intelligence will be rewarded."

2) The Ox finished 2nd due to its steady, resilient effort in the face of obstacles.

3) The Tiger finished 3rd due to its courage and strength.

4) The Rabbit finished 4th because of its creativity. Of course it could not swim across the river. So the Rabbit saw logs floating by in the river. It hopped on each log one by one until it got to the other side.

5) The Dragon finished 5th. Since the Dragon had wings and could fly, the Buddha asked it why it didn't finish 1st. The Dragon replied that while on its way to being first across the finish line, it noticed a town on fire and went there to help put out the fire by blowing it out. It then proceeded to the finish line. The Buddha smiled and praised the Dragon for its magnanimity and generosity, and awarded it the 5th sign in the zodiac. The population in China supposedly booms during a Dragon Year.

The rest is anticlimactic with no lion. 8)

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  • 2 weeks later...

With Chinese animal statues I always get unicorns and lions mixed up. I guess the fact that the statues really don't look much like lions are proof that no one really had ever seen a lion, or if they did, it looked a lot like a unicorn. .

Mind you has anyone ever seen a dragon or a phoenix?

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For information on the roots of the Oriental stone lion, try this link:


(If you're interested, I have a section of my website devoted to photos of Stone Lions taken at random in my wanderings. The relevant page is:


I'm planning to reorganise the site to accommodate photos that I've taken but haven't put up yet.)

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