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Iron Lion of Cangzhou


The iron lion of Cangzhou is in the former site of the Kaiyuan Temple, 20 km away in the southeast of Cangzhou City, Hebei Province.

The iron lion has already had a history of more than one thousand years, and is the biggest and earliest iron casting of China in actual existence. It was made in the third year (953) of the Guangshun reign of the Later Zhou Dynasty (951-961), with 5.4 m in height, 6.5 m in length, 3 m in width and 40 tons in weight. The iron lion has a perking head and glowering eyes, with a wide-open mouth, as if giving a long whistle to the sky and galloping in the open countryside. It looks so vigorous and nimble, bright and brave, majestic and awe-inspiring! The lion carries a basin of lotus on the back, wears a piece of cloth with colorful patterns around its waist, and a lacing on the fore breast. Three Chinese characters that mean king of lions are cast on both the top of its head and its neck. Seven characters that indicate the iron lion was cast in the third year of the Guangshun reign of the Great Zhou Dynasty are cast on the left part of its neck and around the teeth. Its belly is cast with the text of the diamond sutra, but most of it has become illegible because of desquamation. The foundry technique of the iron lion is very high: it was made by casting in several segments one upon another by using 409 pieces in total, showing the superb level of foundry technique of the Later Zhou Dynasty.

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