These biscuit Buddhist lion figurines (Shi), each stand on a rectangular pedestal decorated in purple enamelling. Their bodies are glazed in purple and turquoise. The female lion looks right, a lion cub jumping up her right leg. The male looks to the left, his paw resting on a pole with a moveable openwork ball. Both have open mouths, teeth bared, their tongues sticking out. The eyeballs protrude and are articulated. Stylized curls in purple enamels decorate the top of their heads, chins, neck and down their back.
Lions are very popular motifs in Chinese art, even though they are not indigenous to the country. Mostly, they bear little resemblance to real lions and are usually stylized fantastical creatures with exaggerated features. Traditionally, they are considered to be the protectors of Buddhist wisdom and often found as guardian statues in front of buildings and temples. Usually they are portrayed seated in pairs - a male and female. They can be easily identified, as the female is always portrayed protecting her cub and the male standing on a ball.
These Buddhist Lions are depicted in: Collection Madame L. Wannieck, 1960 no. 68. A very similar pair in colouring but larger size, are in the Anthony de Rothschild Collection. Smaller ones with a taper holder are in the Royal Collection, UK.