古今中外大會獅

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1989 / 3月

文‧塗繼輝 圖‧鄭元慶



獅子並非中國的原生動物,但是牠的形象卻深植在中國人心中。

獅子約在漢代,由印度經西域傳入中國。漢順帝時有「疏勒王來獻犀牛及獅子」的史實記載。至於藝術品使用獅子的造型,則是佛教傳入中國時,刻有獅子的佛像也隨之流入,才引起中國人模仿與創作的靈感。

中國人初見獅子,被其威猛所震懾,因此留下這樣的形容:「頭大尾長,銅頭、鐵額、●爪、鋸牙、弭耳、昂鼻,目光如電,聲吼如雷,有彤髯,牡(母)者尾上茸毛大如斗,日走五百里,為毛蟲之長,每一吼則百獸辟易,馬皆溺血。」

又說獅子能「拉虎、吞貔、裂犀、分象」而且「死後虎豹不敢食其肉,蠅不敢集其尾」。以今人對獅子的了解可知,古人的形容固有其真實性,也有相當程度的誇張。

西方寫實,東方寫意

中國人對於獅子的認知,就在這種「百聞難得一見」、「口耳相傳」的情形下,勾勒出似真似幻的中國獅子造型。

西方獅子的圖像都十分寫實。大英博物館前的石獅昂首睥睨的神態,儼然萬獸之王般的高不可攀;羅馬競技場中獅子的雕塑,更充分展現出肌肉的張力,舉手投足活生生像是獅子翻模脫胎而成。

中國獅子除了和西方一樣,可視為兇猛的象徵外,還被賦予其他的意義。例如釋迦牟尼曾以獅子代表佛法的威武,因此佛陀的法音就好比獅吼,可以激勵世人。在唐朝的文物記載中,我們還能發現文殊菩薩的坐騎正是一隻獅子。又,按周代的官制,太師(獅)、少師(獅)分別是三公、三孤的首席,因此獅子又被引喻為高官顯爵的意思。

由於獅子有威猛、激勵、吉祥等意義,因此被廣泛運用在日常生活中,橋頭、廟門前、公園內、屋樑上、家中的擺飾……,處處可見獅子蹲踞或遊走的姿態。

畫家汪英德就是一位獅癡,他自小看父親雕刻石獅,就對石獅子情有獨鍾,進而興起收藏、研究之心,他歷時十餘年研究、蒐集各種中國獅子的造型,收藏有百餘尊獅子塑像,材質遍及石雕、竹雕、陶塑、銅鑄等,時間則從元代以降到近代的作品都有,不過都是像獅座及香爐、紙鎮、香插……這樣的小型作品,至於放置在廟門前、陵墓旁的大型石獅,因無法據為己有,所以他就周遊中國大陸各地,為獅子照相留影,好做研究。

北獅雄健,南獅嬌柔

汪英德表示,中國獅子無論是用於觀賞、實用的小型獅子,或用於守護鎮邪的大件石獅,其造型大致分為南北兩派,北方的獅子雄偉剛健,相貌比較威風勇猛;南方的獅子則較嬌柔可親,臉上常露出微笑的神態。

若依年代來分,各朝代獅子的造型,也迭有變化。

漢朝因印度佛教東來的影響,獅子長出翅膀,成為翼獅,被視為能辟邪的瑞獸。

唐朝因與西方來往頻繁,因此獅子造型較為寫實。

宋朝則係強調獅子的鬃毛與肌肉,但過於誇張之餘,反而顯得失之肥大。

元朝開始在鬃毛上做一圈一圈螺獅紋的變化,尾巴則長垂在地,像隻北京狗似的。此時的獅子甚至出現像蟾蜍般低矮匍伏的造型,象徵能像蟾蜍一樣帶來財富。

到了明、清之際,就極盡雕琢之能事,鬃毛、線條都十分細膩、繁複。

獅子尚有與其他動物的造型混合。汪英德說,在北平故宮前的華表上就蹲踞一隻獅龍混合的龍獅,除了顯現皇家的氣勢,在古代還有歡迎出征的將帥凱旋回朝的用意。此外一般民間廟宇上更常見獅首魚身的獅魚神獸,傳說是龍的九子之一,性嗜水,有鎮水防災的功能。

中國獅子親切可人

經過歷代的演變,獅子經中國人重新造型後,早已超脫其原貌,成為親切可人的祥瑞之獸。隻隻有著圓睜的雙眼、高凸的額頭、捲曲的鬃毛,胸前繫著銅鈴或吊籃,口中含珠或啣著穿有銅錢的綵帶,可愛的模樣彷彿像隻哈巴狗,搖頭晃尾的在你腳下磨蹭,逢年過節時,人們更舞獅慶賀,與獅同樂。

將威猛的獅子轉化為可親的獅子,由這點可看出中國人的敦厚與豐富的想像及創造力。下次看到中國獅子時,可別忘了仔細端詳,體會其中無盡的涵意。

〔圖片說明〕

P.122

滿面髭鬚、凹目高鼻的馴獅者坐在獅背上,高高的帽子可能用來點蠟燭或插香,這是西晉的青瓷作品。

P.123

唐朝石獅肌肉的紋理和張力與真獅甚為接近。(汪英德攝)

P.122

隋獅受到中亞細亞的影響,出現帶翼的造型,此為銅質製品。

P.124

受年畫「一團和氣」畫風的影響,這隻竹雕的獅子呈現出濃厚的圓味。

P.125

因石型而刻的宋獅,刀法樸拙,展示西洋幾何造型的特色,在中國獅子中十分罕見。(汪英德攝)

P.124

獅王騎猛獅,氣勢何等威風!這件元朝的雕磚,將獅身線條的流暢與活躍,表現得淋漓盡致。

P.126

矮胖的身軀、帶笑的臉龐,展現南方獅的造型,此為作香插用的明朝陶獅。

P.126

這對獅子是明朝製作的香插,製作者原想燒成黑色,未料窯變而產生黑中帶金的效果。

P.127

蘇州文廟前的花岡岩石獅。(汪英德攝)

P.128

玉雕小獅,頭上微微凸起一角,像傳說的麒麟,可隨身攜掛。

P.129

這隻元末明初時的獅子,地處江南江北分界的江蘇省鎮江縣,卻純為北獅風格。(汪英德攝)

P.128

明朝手雕的銅片皮帶頭扣,共鏤刻了九隻獅子,每隻都有著圓圓的雙眼、大大的獅鼻,模樣十分可愛。

P.130

明末清初製作的太師椅一腳,上貼金箔,雙獅展露了母獅帶小獅的親情。

P.131

山東煙台蓬萊閣前的明朝獅子,高踞的姿勢亦屬北派獅。(汪英德攝)

P.130

龍所生的九子之一,好負重,也是獅子的兄弟。此為清代的牙雕作品。

相關文章

近期文章

EN

Leo the Lion, Chinese Style

Twu Jih Huei /photos courtesy of Arthur Cheng /tr. by Peter Eberly


The lion is not native to China, but its image is deeply rooted in the Chinese heart.

Lions were introduced to China from India during the Han dynasty. A historical note from the reign of the Han emperor Shun (126 to 145) records: "The king of Shu-le sent as tribute a rhinoceros and a lion." The lion's appearance in art followed the spread of Buddhism to the country during the fourth and fifth centuries, when Buddhist statues carved with lion figures inspired the Chinese to create imitations of their own.

When Chinese people first saw the lion they were apparently frightened by its ferocity, describing it this way: "It has a large head, a long tail, a head of brass, a brow of iron, claws like hooks, teeth like saws, flattened ears, a haughty snout, a glance like lightning, a roar like thunder, and tawny whiskers. The female has a furball as big as a peck on its tail. It can run five hundred li a day and is master of the furred creatures. The hundred animals withdraw in fright each time it roars, and horses urinate blood."

It was also said that the lion could "drag a tiger, swallow a p'i (a mythical bearlike animal), rend a rhinoceros, and divide an elephant" and that "after it dies, tigers and leopards dare not eat its flesh, and flies dare not gather on its tail." Judged by what we know about lions today, the ancients' descriptions do indeed contain some truth but also a con siderable amount of exaggeration.

From an understanding based largely on rumor and hearsay emerged the image of the Chinese lion, which is half real and half fantastic.

Besides being seen as a symbol of ferocity like its realistic Western counterpart, the Chinese lion has acquired several other meanings as well. Sakyamuni Buddha, for example, used the lion to represent the majesty of dharmic law and compared its roar to Buddhist truth, awakening the people of the world. Records of cultural artifacts from the T'ang dynasty (618 to 907) show the lion as the steed of Manjusri, the Buddha's chief disciple. And because the Chinese word for lion is a homonym for two of the chief ministerial positions in the ancient bureaucratic system, it also came to stand for high rank in office.

Owing to its various connotations of might, enlightenment, and auspiciousness, the lion has been widely employed as a decoration in daily life, its form appearing, rampant or couchant, at the ends of bridges, beside temple gates, in gardens and parks, on rooftops, and in household ornaments.

The painter Wang Ying-te is a lion buff who fell in love with stone lions watching his father sculpt them as a child. From there arose a passion for studying and collecting them. After a dozen or so years of collecting, he now owns more than a hundred lion figurines made of stone, bamboo, ceramic, and metal, dating from the Yuan dynasty (1271 to 1368) to the present day. All of them are small in size, however, such as pedestals, incense burners, paperweights, and incense holders. The big stone lions in front of temples and tombs are not as amenable to collecting, but he has traveled all over the mainland taking pictures of them for study .

Wang says that all Chinese lions--be they small-scale figures for utilitarian decoration or imposing statues designed to guard against evil--can generally be classified into one of two styles, a northern and a southern. The northern lion is majestic and awesome, while the southern lion is warmer and gentler and often reveals a smile.

The form of the Chinese lion can also be classified chronologically. During the Han dynasty (206 B.C. to 220 A.D.), under Indian influence, the lion sprouted wings. The winged lion was seen as an auspicious beast that could ward off evil.

During the T'ang dynasty, when contacts with the West were more frequent, the lion became more realistic in form. During the Sung dynasty (960 to 1279) its mane and flesh were exaggerated to such an extent that it began to appear pudgy.

During the Yuan dynasty, its mane was decorated with curlicue designs and its tail hung down to the ground like that of Pekinese dog. It sometimes appeared in a low, creeping form like that of a ch'an-ch'u toad, to symbolize its ability, like the toad, to attract wealth.

By the Ming (1368 to 1644) and Ching (1644 to 1911) dynasties, the capabilities of sculpture were utilized to the full in rendering its mane and figure in minute detail.

The lion's form also became mixed with those of other animals. Wang says that the combination of lion and dragon that crouches in front of the National Palace Museum in Peking, besides expressing the might of the imperial family, also had the meaning in ancient times of welcoming thereturn of victorious troops to the capital. In addition, the halffish half-lion creatures that sometimes appear in folk temples are said to depict one of the dragon's nine sons, which has the ability to subdue the waters and prevent floods.

Through constant remolding in the Chinese imagination over the ages, the Chinese lion long ago cast off its original appearance to become a warm and amiable creature with auspicious connotations. Each of them now has round eyes, a bulbous nose, a curly mane, a brass bell or a basket hanging over its chest, and a pearl or a colorful sash with copper money held in its mouth. It looks like nothing so much as an overgrown Pekinese, fawning and wagging its tail. In the lion dances held every Chinese New Year's, the lion looks as happy as the people.

Changing the fierce lion into a friendly one reveals something of the rich and generous power of the Chinese imagination. The next time you see a Chinese lion, don't forget to look at it carefully and try to appreciate some of its more subtle significance.

[Picture Caption]

This ceramic piece, dating from the Western Chin dynasty shows a lion tamer with a beard, hollow eyes, a prominent nose, and a tall hat--for holding incense or a candle.

This stone lion from the T'ang dynasty resembles a real one in the latent power of its musculature. (photo by Wang Ying-te)

Winged lions appeared under Middle Eastern influence. These pieces are made of bronze.

The oval shape of this lion carved in bamboo is influenced by the concept of roundness representing reunion, familiar from lunar new year paintings.

Owing to the shape of the stone, this roughly hewn lion from the Sung dynasty has a geometric form that is extremely rare among Chinese lions. (photo by Wang Ying-te)

A lion king on a lion steed--how fearsome! This piece of sculptured stone from the Yuan dynasty vividly captures the lion's energy and movement.

Short, stout, and smiling amiably, this Ming dynasty ceramic lion, used as incense-holder, displays a characteristic southern form.

This granite stone lion stands in front of the Wen Miao temple in Soochow. (photo by Wang Ying-te)

The artisan who made this pair of lion-style incense holders from the Ming dynasty had intended them to be solid black in color, but they came out a mixed black and gold.

This little jade lion has a horn, like that of the chi-lin, or Chinese unicorn, that enables it to be worn on clothing.

This lion, dating from the late Yuan or early Ming, was made in Chenchiang County, Kiangsu Province, on the border between north and south China, but is purely northern in style. (photo by Wang Ying-te)

Nine lions are engraved on this hand-cut bronze belt buckle from the late Ming dynasty. Each one has a pair of cute round eyes and a big nose.

Covered with gold foil, this pair of lions forms the leg of a chair made in the late Ming or early Ch'ing. They show the affection of a mother caring for her child.

With its haughty bearing this Ming dynasty lion at the Penglai Pavilion in Shantung is of the northern style. (photo by Wang Ying-te)

This ivory piece, dating from the Ching dynasty, depicts one of the nine sons of the dragon, good at bearing loads, who was a brother of the lion.

 

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