Illustrated Architecture Dictionary
................................ Illustrated FURNITURE Glossary



The "king of the beasts," and always a favorite animal symbol in furniture , interiors, art, and architecture.

Lion: Egypt: In ancient Egypt, the lion was associated with water and was usually shown at rest, carved with a formalized rufflike mane.

Lion: Greek and Roman period: The lion was the symbol of the fallen hero, and was also used as the guardian of gates, temples, and public buildings.

Lion: Christian artSometimes in scripture a lion represents Christ, as in Revelation 5:5, "Behold the lion of the tribe of Juda, the root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals." This symbolism sometimes carries into images of a lion with the crossed halo that is used only for the Divinity.

Lion: China: "Statues of guardian lions have traditionally stood in front of Chinese Imperial palaces, Imperial tombs, government offices, temples, and the homes of government officials and the wealthy, from the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220), and were believed to have powerful mythic protective benefits. The lions are usually depicted in pairs. When used as statuory, the pair would consist of a male resting his paw upon an embroidered ball (in imperial contexts, representing supremacy over the world) and a female restraining a playful cub that is on its back (representing nurture)." - Wikipedia (online Dec. 2013)

Lion: Miscellaneous:

Marzocco Lion

The Marzocco is the heraldic lion that is a symbol of Florence, and was apparently the first piece of public secular sculpture commissioned by the Republic of Florence, in the late 14th century. It stood at the heart of the city in the Piazza della Signoria at the end of the platform attached to the Palazzo Vecchio called the ringhiera [Loggia della Signoria], from which speakers traditionally harangued the crowd. This is now lost, having weathered with time to an unrecognizable mass of stone.

The best known rendition is by Donatello, made in 1418–20. Donatello’s Marzocco was placed in the Piazza della Signoria in 1812, but in 1885 it was moved to the Bargello, having been replaced by the copy we see to this day.
- Wikipedia  (online June 2020)

Loggia della Signoria, Florence, Italy

Basilica of Sante Croce, Florence, Italy

Lion of Judah

From ancient times to the present, the "Lion of Judah" has been one of the most popular symbols of the Jewish people.

The tribe of Judah is inextricably linked with this symbol (David, a descendant of Judah, is identified with the lion, as is the Davidic monarchy and the Messiah who will spring from this royal house).

Standing, reclining or leaping, they are almost always in harmonious pairs, by contrast with other animals that are depicted in a state of struggle.

During the last two centuries, lions on Jewish ceremonial art are generally portrayed carrying the Tablets

- Jewish Heritage Online: The Lion in Jewish Art  (June 2011)

Lion with Ten Commandments

Lion head

A carved representation of a lion's bead is used on furniture and in architecture.

The head served as a scupper (water spout) on ancient classic temples, and was often used as a knocker or handle on Gothic and Renaissance doors and cabinets.

It also functioned as a holder at the end of a swag or festoon.

Lion's paw foot

The carved representation of a furry paw at the end of a furniture leg.

Appeared in early Greek and Roman furniture, and found in French, English, and Italian Renaissance designs.

A prime decorating motif in 18th-century English furniture. Popularized by Thomas Chippendale.

Lion Period

The period from 1720 to 1735 in England when carved lions' masks on the knees of cabriole legs and the arms of chairs and settees, and lion's paws on furniture feet were the most popular motif.

Photos and their arrangement 2005 Chuck LaChiusa
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