Thu, May 03, 2012 - Page 2 News List

‘Sexual’ stone lions cause uproar

By Lai Hsiao-tung  /  Staff reporter

A stone lion with male genitalia stands guard at the entrance of the Martyrs’ Shrine in New Taipei City on Tuesday.

Photo: Lai Hsiao-tung, Taipei Times

Unlike other stone lions stationed on either side of traditional buildings’ gates, a male and a female that sit in front of the Martyrs’ Shrine in New Taipei City (新北市) appear very lifelike.

This is not only because of their stateliness, but also because of their obvious sexual characteristics.

Many visitors to the shrine have been seen staring closely at the pair of stone lions, as the male one has a rare penis, while the female has a pair of slightly swollen breasts and holds a little stone baby lion down with one paw.

Some adults blushed upon looking at the statues’ obvious sexual characteristics, while young children said they were embarrassed.

Sanchong District (三重) chief Yang Yi-te (楊義德), the former director of the city’s department of civil affairs, said the department had received complaints from residents who find the sexual features disturbing.

Some feel that the authorities should “clothe the x-rated sculptures” that are on display in an open area where children and tourists often visit, Yang said.

“The public should not overly interpret the appearances of the two stone lions, or look at them with a prejudiced view, as they are merely traditional pieces of art that are of cultural significance,” he said in response to the complaints.

“This is like the statues of urinating little boys installed in European-style gardens — people no longer find them strange, as such sculptures have become commonplace,” Yang added.

A local resident surnamed Huang (黃) said the public should not take the exposed sexual characteristics too seriously, saying they posed no serious harm and that people should simply laugh the matter off.

Some parents even praised the stone lions as “great statues of personification,” which they said serve as good models for them to teach sex education to their children.

Religion and Customs Division chief Chen Yi-chun (陳怡君) said that only a fraction of stone lions across the country have sexual characteristics — an obvious way for the people to distinguish their gender.

“However, since the city’s Martyrs’ Shrine only dates back about four decades, it is difficult to determine the reasons behind the pair’s rare natural design,” Chen said.

As for the possibility of covering up the stone lions, Chen said the department would deliberate on the matter and it would consider putting a proposal in next year’s budget.

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