Saturday 8 October 2022

Separating lion and bull

Who can translate this for me from Chinese? Is this a depiction of a known Chinese legend? 

Eastern Han Stone Tomb Brick. Nanyang Museum of Han Dynasty Stone Carving, Henan Province, China. Lots more great pics of these tomb bricks by Gary Todd can be found here...

On the small white label it says in English "bull fight lion fight" which looks like they have no idea what this means...

The moment between bull (summer, May,Jun,Jul, starts in Taurus, which marks the beginning of the calving season of the Eurasian wild cattle) and lion (autumn, Aug,Sep,Oct, starts in Leo, which marks the beginning of the mating season of the Eurasian lions), Jul/Aug, is the time of the maximum heat and precipitation in China...A very important time of the year...The root of the tree of life...Here is Nanyang climate chart...

I talked about North Eastern Chinese climatic and agricultural year in this post about the "Mythical beast from Xian"...

So if I was to guess who this character separating bull and lion is, I would say some kind of a thunder god...

To read more about ancient animal and plant calendar markers, start here…then check the rest of the blog posts related to animal calendar markers I still didn't add to this page, and finally check my twitter threads I still didn't convert to blog post...I am 9 months behind now...


  1. Ask for help at Language Log, they're experts on East Asian languages & English translations

  2. I can translate this for you but it's late at night right now. Any method to contact you?

  3. I'm posting with my Google account now. Maybe you can find me? I'll check back. But yeah. I got to sleep so I'm going to look at it later.

  4. OK. I actually was able to get the bottom one quite quickly. The one in the black area might have to wait:

    时代:东汉 尺寸:10x31x21

    ​Fight with a Bull and a Lion
    Time period: Eastern Han Dimensions: 10x31x21
    Origin: Nanyang City Seven Arch Bridge
    The painting is engraved with a man of strength, facing backward and swinging his arms, fighting with the bull charging from the left. The bull's eyes are angry and is back is arched. It uses its horns to defend it's front. To the right, the lion has been defeated by the man.

  5. Oh, I looked at the words in the black area. It's exactly the same. There you go! I didn't expect to do it right away but I did

    1. Thank you so very much. I really appreciate it. Unfortunately as I expected, this is just the description of the scene, which means we have no idea what this means :) Well maybe now we do...

  6. I'm the guy who translated that. For what it's worth, the is a popular scheme associating animals with seasons. It would be the green dragon in spring, the red bird (phoenix) for summer, the white tiger of fall and the black turtle of winter. I think those animals were selected because of their behavior, not their mating/ birthing season. Anyway, there you go.

    1. Thanks Brendon. You should check my other articles about Animal calendar markers in Chinese mythology. You might find them interesting...Also check my twitter account @serbiaireland where you will find threads about Chinese mythology which I still didn't convert to blog posts...

  7. It is very similar to what was found in Karahan Tepe, age, about 11.400 years old.

    Abie K., Freiburg

    1. I know. Except it is bull and leopard...I wrote about it in this thread

    2. Thank you for your answer!

      Partly I'm convinced by your interpretation. But partly I think you are wrong, for instance about snakes in PPNA+B. I also see the bull as a general symbol for the beginning of the year, the "leopards" possibly as a general symbol for summer. And then of course, it is possible that this symbolism got preserved for a very long time.

      But again thanks a lot for your answer!