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Wind Lions of Kinmen

The most famous village guardians in Taiwan
Wind Lions of Kinmen
Address: No. 112, Section 1, Huandao E Rd., Jinsha Township, Kinmen County
GPS Coordinates: 118.41324,24.48893
Admission: Free Admission
Opening Dates:
every day
Opening Hours:
all day
Organizer: Wind Lions of Kinmen
Website: Link
E-mail: a203b03@mail.kinmen.gov.tw
Telephone: (082)352-150

Significance

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English
Wind lions are a common sight on the islands of Kinmen. They are unique to the islands and important symbols in the local religious culture. The fact that they are meant to prevent wind damage in addition to warding off evil spirits is an indication of the degree to which the lack of tree cover on the island has resulted in long-term damage from the gusting sea winds. The wind lions have evolved from their original role as protectors against wind into guardians who ward off evil spirits and bring good fortune, an example of religion changing to meet social and environmental needs. The wind lions come in many different colors and styles. Their fine sculpting brings out their beauty. Wind lions in standing poses are especially rare outside of Kinmen, making them a valuable expression of local cultural heritage.

History

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English
Wind Lions are also known as Stone Lions and General Stone Lions. Historically, Kinmen boasted a dense tree canopy. However, starting in the Yuan dynasty (1271 – 1368), most of the trees were cut down to accommodate the salt production industry. In the late Ming dynasty, pirates also burned down forests to aid in staging attacks. When Koxinga (1624 – 1662) arrived in Kinmen, he cut down more trees to build war vessels. The lack of trees left the islands prone to wind damage. Thus the residents installed wind lions to prevent harm from the wind and ward off evil spirits, especially on the eastern part of the islands where the northeast wind hits. Another legend states that as farmers from an earlier time were praying for a good harvest and for spiritual succor, the wind lions transformed into village guardians. The style of the wind lions might have been derived from the stone lions that guard temple gates. Kinmen and its surrounding isles have over a hundred wind lions. Local residents cover the wind lions with red capes to thank them for wishes granted. It is the most unusual yet popular folk belief in the cultural landscape of Kinmen.

Special Features

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English
The Wind Lions of Kinmen floor plan shows the special features of the Wind Lions of Kinmen.  There are 10 special features.  Please see below for details.
1Overview of the Wind Lions of Kinmen

A wind lion has the face of a lion and the body of a human being. Its facial features are often the highlight of the sculpture. Wind lions can reach nearly four meters tall, like the Wind Lion of Anqi, while others, such as the niche Wind Lion of Qionglin, can be as little as thirty centimeters in height. The positioning of the wind lions can also be significant.
1. Types:
A. Village wind lions: These are mostly located in an upwind position on the outskirts of a village, at an intersection, or near a temple. Traditionally, these wind lions protect from wind and ward off evil spirits. In terms of feng shui (Chinese geomancy), they also serve the function of suppressing harm to houses that are located inauspiciously in relation to water or roadways. Because of Kinmen’s strong northeast seasonal winds, most of the wind lions face north or east. They are often made of local granite or white granite from Quanzhou, China. They can also be made of cement, bricks, or pottery and plaster. 
B. Wall and roof ridge wind lions: This type of wind lion is placed on a roof ridge or wall, or in a wall niche. According to feng shui principles, such wind lions can prevent harm from inauspicious housing location in relation to roads or from undesirable building configurations. Due to their placement, these wind lions are smaller in size. They are usually made of pottery or stone. Most roof ridge wind lions are placed on the center of the ridge above the main hall of a house. At times, a warrior rides the wind lion, thus increasing its power. 
2. Styles:
The Wind Lions of Kinmen either stand upright or squat on their haunches. They have a variety of facial expressions. Their appearance is often quite fierce, with mouth open wide, fangs exposed, and round eyes protruding. Their noses are large and their teeth bared. There are many variations on this prototype, with some lions smiling in an almost cartoon-like manner. The standing lions have small limbs, giving them a rather endearing appearance. The lions are not overly ornate. A simple central axis or mane is usually drawn or carved on their backs and their tails generally curve upward against the back. Male wind lions in standing poses are carved with reproductive organs in the shape of a gourd. Some believers cover the wind lions with red capes as a way of showing their appreciation and to showcase the wind lions’ power.

the Wind Lions of Kinmen

2The Wind Lion of Anqi

The Wind Lion of Anqi is 3.78 meters tall. The standing ceramic sculpture is the largest wind lion in Kinmen. Believers held that the Wind Lion of Anqi not only prevented harm from the wind and evil spirits, it also eradicated leprosy, and thus it became the most important guardian of Anqi. The Battle of Guningtou took place in Anqi, and for a while the wind lion was scarred by bullet holes. With help from the military, it was restored to its present form. It has been featured on Taiwanese postage stamps.

The Wind Lion of Anqi

3The Wind Lion of Qionglin

The Wind Lion of Qionglin is located at the exit of the defense tunnel next to Huandao North Road. This stone wind lion is 188 centimeters tall. It was buried for a period of time due to military construction in 1949, but surfaced again two years later after a torrential rain. The lion is statuesque with graceful lines. It was once voted the most heroic and powerful looking, the most tastefully dressed, and the most expressive wind lion during an arts and culture festival. Its popularity has also made it the “spokesperson” for Kinmen tourism.

The Wind Lion of Qionglin

4The Niche Wind Lion of Qionglin

The smallest of the wind lions is inset into the wall of the house labeled Qionglin No. 21, located in front and to the right of a six-generation Minnan-style family shrine in Qionglin. Due to years of weathering, only its nostrils, mouth, and seated posture are recognizable. The stone wind lion is only twenty-eight centimeters tall and twenty-one centimeters wide. Nonetheless, it has an imposing presence.

5The Wind Lion of Dongzhou

The Wind Lion of Dongzhou is located in front and to the left of Dongzhou’s Fuyou Temple in Kinmen’s Jining Village. It is famous for helping people find lost objects. Made of brick and pottery, the squatting wind lion is 131 centimeters tall. Its mane gives it a debonair appearance. The current wind lion is the third at this location. It was created in 1995. It is now the most important treasure of Dongzhou, and has gained fame due to tales of it solving murder cases and aiding local residents and tourists alike in finding lost objects.

The Wind Lion of Dongzhou

6The Wind Lion of Guanao

Guanao was one of Kinmen’s ferry terminals. Official documents from the imperial court were transported to the island via this route. The two original wind lions went missing around 1949. In 1984, a sculptor from Fujian Province was commissioned to carve a new stone wind lion. However, the Wind Lion of Guanaco, which stands 230 centimeters tall, has a pronounced reproductive organ. The embarrassed villagers put a skirt on it, and now it is also known as the wind lion dressed in a skirt.

7The Wind Lion of Huxia

This comical wind lion, located in Huxia, stands 130 centimeters tall. It was remade in pottery in 1954. According to legend, the Wind Lion of Huxia has granted many wishes to families hoping for baby boys. The wind lion was originally painted in white with gold trim, but was repainted by local residents when the colors faded. The wind lion is plump and has a cartoon-like appearance.

The Wind Lion of Huxia

8The Wind Lion of Guningtou Beishan

This wind lion, located by Xuanli Lake in Guningtou, is finely carved with a handsome face. It is 1.2 meters tall and stands upright. Some say that this wind lion originally faced the village of Lincuo, causing unrest in the village. Finally, the villagers cut off the wind lion’s left ear and knocked out its front teeth. Traces of the restoration are still visible. This wind lion was also featured on a postage stamp in 1994.

The Wind Lion of Guningtou Beishan

9The Wind Lion of Jinhu Chengong

Located next to the Chen Jinlan Mansion, the Wind Lion of Chengong is also referred to as Lord Stone Lion by the locals. This stone wind lion stands 1.24 meters tall. It is responsible for stopping wind and evil spirits, as well as blessing the local fishermen with a bountiful haul. The Wind Lion of Chengong carries an embroidered ball in hand, a symbol of the granting of wishes.

10The Wind Lion of Tahou

This ninety centimeter clay wind lion from Tahou differs from the other wind lions. It looks almost human and has a lovably bemused expression on its face. It is impossible to tell if it is smiling or crying. The lion’s two hands are raised helplessly in front of it and a string of bells hangs across its chest. This wind lion is a guardian to local soldiers. Prior to going out on missions, the troops come here to pray for safety and success.

Reminders

There are over a hundred wind lions in Kinmen and its surrounding isles. Together, they form a significant folk religious belief. Pamphlets describing the wind lions are available at the Kinmen County Government Office and Kinmen National Park for visitors to use as a reference. The phone number for the Cultural Affairs Bureau of the Kinmen County Government is (082) 323169.

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