I missed the big installation yesterday but KTSF was there.
Here’s what the “South Lion” looks like. Its left paw is “resting on a Buddhist jewel with an openwork design of sculpted peonies, a flower closely associated with lions.” DNKT.
This is a composite shot, but it’s the best one I have now. Guardian lion, 1868-1912. Japan. Bronze. Gift of Marsha Vargas Handley in memory of Raymond G. Handley
These critters certainly have found an appropriate resting place!
The ceremonial unveiling is coming soon.
All the deets from your Asian Art Museum:
“ASIAN ART MUSEUM INSTALLS TWO JAPANESE BRONZE LIONS ON FRONT STEPS
The Asian Art Museum has installed two monumental Japanese bronze lion sculptures on granite plinths outside the museum’s front entrance on Larkin Street. Recently acquired by the museum through a donation from longtime supporter Marsha Vargas Handley in memory of Raymond G. Handley, the 800 lb. sculptures date to the late nineteenth century and are similar to the majestic guardian lions typically placed opposite each other outside Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines.
The practice of adorning public buildings with sculptures of lions is a time-honored custom in the US–the New York Public Library and the Art Institute of Chicago are noteworthy examples. The granite plinths outside the Asian Art Museum may well have been intended to support sculptures of lions when the building was originally built in 1916 to serve as the San Francisco Main Public Library. The museum is now following that longstanding tradition–this time with a uniquely Asian spin–giving a sneak peek of the treasures held inside.
The lion on the museum’s south side has its left paw resting on a Buddhist jewel, with an openwork design of sculpted peonies, a flower closely associated with lions. The south lion’s mouth is open, and the north lion’s is closed, symbolizing the sounds and spirit of the Japanese pronunciation of the first and last letters of the Sanskrit alphabet: “A” is pronounced with the mouth open, and “Un” with the mouth closed.
Physical Description: These lions’ enormous size—nearly five feet tall and six feet long— and standing positions are unusual. Paired guardian lions outside shrines today are often shown seated or crouching, and most are made of stone, wood, or, less commonly, ceramic. This pair of large sculptures also stands out in material (bronze). Relatively few bronze guardian lions from before World War II survive, due in part to mandatory metal collections ordered by the Japanese government during the war.
Conservation: The lions have undergone extensive conservation treatment, including repairs to the feet that fasten them to a new, customized base—a strategy of earthquake preparedness. Several layers of protective coating were applied to resist weathering of Ceremonial Unveiling: Details for a forthcoming ceremonial unveiling event will be announced soon.”