Pacific Asia Museum

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46 North Los Robles Avenue
Pasadena, California 91101
Open Wednesday through Sunday 10am to 6pm
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USC Pacific Asia Museum

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Snow Lions


In this case you can find five snow lions. Four of them come in a pair, each pair originally would have been working together to hold up the base of a statue of Buddha or another important person.

Look closely. Snow lions are not like other lions, or even like the snow leopards of central Asia. Instead, they are said to be pure white with a bright turquoise mane. Snow lions are full of energy, leaping from mountain top to mountain top, not quite flying but also not quite touching the ground. They are said to be smart, always cheerful and delighted by life. With all these good qualities, it is not a surprise that snow lions are a symbol of Tibetan culture!

Pairs of snow lion statues sometime protect important buildings. In this way, they have a lot in common with the Chinese Foo Lions, sometimes translated as “Foo Dogs”, that protect this building. You can see three pairs of Foo lions as you walk through the museum doors and courtyard, plus one more pair is up on the roof.

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