Tag Archives: lion

Make A Symbol of Power Work for You

The city of Venice uses the winged lion as its symbol. The winged lion is also a symbol of St. Mark, and it’s not by coincidence that St. Mark is also the patron saint of the Venice. There is a power in these old symbols. The mere fact that you find symbols of this nature throughout the ancient world, and often modeled very similarly gives credence to the notion that they believed these symbols had an energetic power also.

In many ways this idea of energy is like that of the Chinese concepts found in Taoism and Feng Shui. In both of these philosophical ideas, objects and pictures can obtain and even hold energy. These objects, such as our wall relief here, influence the attractive or disagreeable energies surrounding us in our everyday environment. It’s believed that using these objects as art can help us in subtle ways.

For instance, a popular artistic expression of a winged lion shows the lion resting his paw on the Motto of Venice. Naturally, being Venice, the motto is in Latin and the ancient carvers may or may not have known what they were writing.  However, when carving out the motto they knew they only had so much space in which to carve the phrase “Pax tibi, Marce, Evangelista meus. Hic requiescet corpus tuum” .

That’s quite a bit of carving to place in a relatively small area without any errors. So, they used a sort of shorthand to get the whole phrase to fit. These artisans preferred the much shortened. “Pax – Evan, Tibi – Geli, Mar – Sta, Ce – Meus”. Obviously this version is a great deal easier to spell and carve. The phrase, in sum, means “Peace to you, Mark, my Evangelist. Here your body shall rest.”

Seal of VeniceThe lion has a grotesque even a gargoylish expression that gives the work an expressive power of suggestion. These carved features often enhanced seals and heraldic carvings to motivate a sense of fear and foreboding in us. It is still believed in many areas of the world today that these grotesque and macabre features are useful in frightening away the evil spirits that wish us ill will. What better location therefore, than to place it on a seal of a powerful empire?

We are then drawn to the large claws surrounding the book on which the famous motto is carefully carved .   At once this message maintains both a foreboding warning of power and fear to the enemies of the owner of the seal and delivers a message of hope of protection to that owner. A message establishing that St. Mark is still present and gentle people have nothing to fear.

The idea is to enhance that message through the visual use of various artistic filters.   The shadows on this piece play a crucial role in establishing the historical and powerful feel of the carving. The deepening shadows and lighting enhance the effect of the lion as both a gargoyle and protector.  Various brown filters are then applied to allow for the stone and it’s all-important texture to suggest its permanent nature as a protective seal against evil.

These two elements drawn together allow for the energy of the piece to fully flow and provide the emotional response that makes owning the work so fulfilling.  All you need to do is display it.

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How Will You Scare Your Enemies this Chinese New Year?

Happy New Year!

恭禧发财  ( Gong Xi Fa Cài)  or (Gong Hey Fat Choy)

Since it is Chinese New year, I thought it proper to introduce one of my new works. This is Male Foo Lion.  Sometimes referred to as a foo dog, foo dogs are really lions. Foo Lions are very important symbols in Chinese culture and references to them are easy to find. The most famous being sets of Foo Lions from the Ming and Qing dynasties found in the Forbidden Palace in the center of Beijing, China.

I wanted to bring forth and center upon the emotion in the statue by giving a close-cropped view of the Male Foo Lionterrifying teeth and eyes of the lion. I envisioned the lion launching out of the frame at the viewer with its ferocious intent. The image was desaturated of color and various dodge and burn techniques are then applied along with a cool blue filter to enhance the whites and boost the blacks in the image.

Traditionally, Foo Lions offer protection from negative energy or Qi. It does this in the same way gargoyles work. The scarier or more grotesque the figure is the better.   This frightening visage protects its owner by scaring away the negative energy. It’s also important to place the Foo lion so that it is facing a door or window from which the owner of the lion believes negative energy may come.

The male lion usually has a ball under his paw representing the world and is always located towards the left side of an opening looking out. The female lion is found with a cub under its paw representing support. The female lion is always located towards the right side of the opening looking out.

This particular image is that of the male lion. So, if you wish to feel the full effects of its protection, place it on the left side of an entrance hallway, door, or window.


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Winged Lion: How It Got from Assyria to Your Wall

Winged Lion is an artistic shot of a winged lion carved into the head rail of a Victorian server cabinet. The Victorian period between 1837-1901 was a period of change in the art of decorative furniture.

The manufacturing process of pieces changed from selective pieces hand-made for each client to a mass-produced factory one. For the first time, close copies of the same furniture the aristocrats had could be obtained by the common folk.

Thus enters our winged lion.   The winged lion is a mythological creature sometimes called the Lammasu. The Lammasu is a fantastic beast from the days of the ancient Assyrians Empire. When the 2nd Babylonian empire under Nebuchadnezzar II ruled the Middle East, they used it as a motif for the Sun God. Later, the conquered and displaced Jewish populace borrowed the winged lions as a prophetic animal in the prophesies of Daniel (Daniel 7:4) as a reference to Babylon itself.

Following the belief of the divine power behind the winged lion is it any wonder that the Christians followed suite by having it refer to St. Mark and even to Christ.

It is at this point that we go from the religious context Winged Lionto a more semi-divine arena. Since the city-state of Venice viewed St. Mark as it’s patron saint, it only made logical sense the motif of the winged lion would make it’s way into the heraldry and identity of the Venetian Empire itself.   After all what royal didn’t want their family to be seen as having God on their side. It is here that the brand of the image of the winged lion takes off.

This branding, much like an ancient form of a corporate logo, of the lion as a powerful, noble and ferocious beast was not lost on the rest of European royalty and plain ornamented lions show up all over Europe. The stylized lion especially became popular in the heraldry of England.

We soon arrive at the Victorian period named after Queen Victoria, one of the longest living monarchs of the British Empire. The Victorian period was a climate of scientific, artistic and cultural change in England.   With the love of the Gothic styles and dark ornate carvings making their appearance in building styles and especially in furniture. It’s only natural that the winged lion became popular again.

Only this time, the image refers the power of money and influence. Our winged lion motif loses its religious significance and becomes more used in its portrayal of economic and social power. The ability to make factory made furniture allowed the masses access to this powerful motif and it soon appeared on everything from tables to foyer pieces and servers.

Even now the meaning of this motif is in a constant state of change. Outside of the antique furniture business, the winged lion is synonymous with the artistic decorations of a gargoyle or griffin. It’s seen as a decoration more than a reference to power and elegance. Still, it makes for a great piece of art. Especially hanging on your wall.

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