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Roof tile

  • Place of origin:

    Shanxi (made)

  • Date:

    1500-1644 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Stoneware with lead glazes

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 144, The Headley Trust Gallery, case 1

The production of ceramic tiles and architectural fittings greatly expanded during the Ming dynasty (1279-1366), at a time of growing urbanization in China. Specialised kilns were set up in north and south China, often close to building sites. The tiles were mass-produced and then hand-finished with finer decorative details.

This figure, shaped as a lion, was part of an elaborate architectural decoration placed on the top ridge of a roof, probably a Buddhist temple. A vase or another Buddhist symbol was originally fitted into the draped vase on the animal's back. The lion is a popular animal in Buddhist iconography, and it is often depicted as the vehicle of Manjusri, Bodhisattva of Wisdom.

Physical description

Stoneware architectural fitting shaped as a lion carrying on his back a draped canopy, decorated with green, yellow and brown lead glazes

Place of Origin

Shanxi (made)


1500-1644 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Stoneware with lead glazes


Height: 44 cm, Width: 44 cm, Depth: 25 cm

Descriptive line

Stoneware architectural fitting in the shape of a lion, with lead glazes, Ming dynasty, ca. 1500-1644

Labels and date

Flag-staff holder,
in form of a lion
C.94-1913 [pre 1994]
Roof decoration in form of a lion pedestal
Ming dynasty, 15th-17th century
This creature acted as the base to a canopied throne, on which a figure of the Bodhisattva Manjusri would originally have sat. Manjusri, Bodhisattva of wisdom, was said to have resided at Wutai shan in Shanxi province. Wutai shan is the northernmost of four famous Buddhist mountain pilgrimage sites in China. The whole tilework ensemble would originally have been placed on the topmost ridge of a Buddhist temple. [1994]
Architectural fitting shaped as a lion
China, Shanxi, 1500-1700
Stoneware with lead glazes
A vase or another Buddhist emblem was originally fitted on the back of the lion; the figure was part of an elaborate finial at the top of the roof ridge [2008]

Production Note

HZ03122019: 獅坐蓮花燈台?




Glazing (coating); Moulding

Subjects depicted

Lion (animal); Canopy


Ceramics; Architectural fittings; Buddhism


East Asia Collection

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