The Asia Society Leogryph

(Elsa Ruiz)

Pair of Leogryphs or Guardian Lions (Male and Female)
18th century, Nepal
H. 26 x L. 28 in. (66 x 71.1 cm)

Throughout Asia, pairs of guardian lions are depicted flanking the throne of the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni. A pair of lions also often stand guard outside Buddhist temples, the male on the viewer’s right when approaching the temple and the female on the left. These ferocious creatures are believed to protect the temple and those seeking enlightenment from evil forces.

In the West, these beasts are sometimes referred to as leogryphs, stemming from their hybrid features that combine the physical aspects of a lion and the mythical creature known as a griffin.

Asia Society has a pair of Nepalese guardian sculptures cast in bronze and dating to the eighteenth century. These leogryphs belonged to the Jacques Marchais Center of Tibetan Art on Staten Island, but since 1960 remained on long-term loan to Asia Society. In 1997 Asia Society acquired them from the Center. The leogryph logotype symbol of Asia Society is based on the forms of these sculptures.