On Thursday October 29, 2015 the Middlesex community welcomed two new members, in the form of two stone lions that now reside outside of the athletic center (though their final resting place will be outside Warburg Library). The lions themselves have been donated on behalf of some generous Middlesex families from China, who hope the lions, weighing a combined six-and-a-half tons, will “guard the peace and prosperity” of the Middlesex community.
The two white marble lions hold much significance in Chinese culture. Annie Ku, Head of the Chinese Department, notes, “These lions are protectors of the gates.” Indeed, many of these stone lions can be seen in royal palaces and in homes of high ranking officials throughout China. The Middlesex lions hold special significance thanks to their beautiful craftsmanship and the length of their journey; after being carved, the lions traveled by sea and by land for nearly two months, before finally arriving at our gates.
Together the lions represent the protection of prosperity and the warding off of evil spirits. As opposed to Western lions, whose carvings typically render an exact replica of a female and a male, Chinese lions have disproportionate bodies and look almost identical. The key to differentiating the two is what each has under a front paw. The female, always located on the left, holds her paw over a cub, representing the nurturing nature of females. The male lion, always located on the right, holds his paw over a globe, representing power and control. Together they balance each other out, in order to provide the ultimate protection for the space in which they reside.
It is with great excitement and enthusiasm that we welcome these two lions onto our campus, and we are grateful to the eleven families, eight from Beijing and three from Shanghai, who sponsored the lions’ journey to Middlesex: