Bronze statue of the animal head of the twelve zodiac animals in Yuanmingyuan

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Bronze statue of the animal head of the twelve zodiac animals in Yuanmingyuan were designed by Lang shining, a foreign court painter during the Qianlong period, and Jiang Anren, a French missionary, integrating Chinese and western animal images of the Chinese zodiac. For example, the head of a bull is different from the traditional image of a bull in China. We can learn from the image of a bullfight in Spain; The king character on the forehead of the tiger represents the traditional Chinese tiger pattern, but the tiger head slightly like a lion is the image of the tiger in Europe.

yuan ming yuan

The bronze statues of the twelve animal heads are located on the 12 stone platform of the fan-shaped water fountain in front of the Haiyan hall. On the south bank are rats, tigers, dragons, horses, monkeys and dogs; On the north bank are cattle, rabbits, snakes, sheep, chickens and pigs. The portraits are all animal heads and human bodies. The head is made of copper and the body is made of stone. The water pipe is hollow. Every other hour, the zodiac statue at that time will spray water from the mouth; At noon, the twelve bronze statues were fountains at the same time. The animal head is actually a giant hydraulic clock.

twelve zodiac animals in Yuanmingyuan

After the British and French allied forces burned down the Old Summer Palace, the bronze statue of the beast head was lost overseas. At an auction in Hong Kong in 2000, the heads of cattle, tigers and monkeys appeared, and the twelve animal heads became a symbol of the loss of overseas cultural relics in the Old Summer Palace. Through various efforts, by 2014, seven animal heads, including cattle, monkeys, tigers, pigs, horses, rats and rabbits, had returned to China; It is said that the dragon head is in Taiwan, and four animal heads, including snake, chicken, dog and sheep, are still missing.

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