Monday, July 16, 2012

Lionizing Lions . . .

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While we wandered in Italy in June, from Asti to Florence, Siena to Perugia, Assisi to Genoa, and points in between, everywhere we went I was ever more conscious of the crowds, the hardy hordes, the proud prides of lions stalking us, trailing us, stealthily prowling after us, growling even in my dreams at night. They were royal, commanding, dignified even in the advanced state of decay that some had succumbed to over the centuries since their various sculptors patiently carved them from blocks of stone or marble. Some seemed to smile benevolently while others scowled and frowned with haughty scorn at a mere human who would dare to approach to photograph them. They adorned all manner of public buildings, churches, monasteries, and fountains, even the interior of cathedrals. One would think that Italy was once teeming with these regal beasts, though the only live ones there today are in zoos or a travelling circus or two. I would venture to bet that there are far more stone lions than live ones there today. Even in Africa their population is dwindling. One day we may have only these stone beasts to remind us of what once was. While you consider these photographs and the future fate of these tawny beasts, there is a piece of music which could accompany this visual memorial to the Panthera Leo, to quote the Latin name. And believe it or not, this is not by any means all the lions we saw on our travels.
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17 comments:

Steve said...

Sulptured lions! Thank God for that - for a second I feared you were talking about UK football fans.

James said...

Wow! I remember seeing some lions in Italy but seeing all these different types in one place is very cool. Great post!

louciao said...

Am no longer "Wond'rin' Where the Lions Are." Must let Bruce know.

French Girl in Seattle said...

Dear Mr Toad. I am happy to see you have finished editing the 2.5 billion photos you took during your recent trip. The wait was worthwhile. This must be the most exhaustive collection of [carved] lions a.n.y.w.h.e.r.e.!!! :-) I was quite simply mesmerized, as I scrolled down and discovered each new regal feline. Well done. Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

Owen said...

Hmmm, is this going to be enough to get me into the Guinness book of records for most lions in a single blog post ? At least we know where they are now ! No more "wondering"...

Steve, if I had my "druthers", we could let a few of these beasts loose in the football stadiums, to liven things up a bit...

Hey James, you probably saw more than you realized, they are omnipresent in Italy...

Chère Véro, it was only 2.4 billion! And I've only just started the editing, pulling out a few theme works like lions, skulls, and a forgotten factory... but more to come... ah, if only the world knew what all are in the Toad Hall archives... :-)

Owen said...

Keep hoping that National Geographic is going to call one of these days... sigh... :-)

martinealison said...

Merci de partager avec nous ces magnifiques photos qui mettent à l'honneur ces merveilleuses sculptures.

Gros bisous.

French Girl in Seattle said...

Owen, I know you probably crumble under the weight of many prestigious distinctions, but I still sent a blogging Award to you today. Details on my blog. Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

clo said...

Hi Cher Owen....
Un post d'une magnifique richesse...les italiens on un engouement manifeste pour ce fier mammifère...
Tes photos sont tres belles cher Ami ..et les rois de pierre mis a l'honneur d'une remarquable façon...
Bravo pour ces reportages au pays du soleil...l’Italie est un pays pittoresque , d'une richesse culturelle énorme...merci a toi pour le partage de votre beau voyage...
je suis passée en silence mais J'ai suivi avec intérêt les posts précédents...:)
Excuse les , ces longs silences...mais ,j'ai été très......fatiguée , on va dire , pour rester simple ,et aussi très peu inspirée depuis longtemps..comme une sorte d'impasse ,je ne sais pas comment expliquer ça... mais ce que je veux te dire d'essentiel ,c'est que même quand je suis silencieuse ,tu es toujours dans mes pensées...:)

Je t'envoie mes amitiés Owen...prend soin de toi et des tiens..A plus tard..:)

Owen said...

Merci Martine-Alison, très touché de ce passage, et plus que content si ces lions ont pu faire plaisir...

Dear Véro, and I will thank you profusely here also, very kind of you to send some sunshine, well received and it served its purpose by warming my heart...

Chère Chère Clo, je te souhaite que du bien et qu'avec le temps et la patience, que l'inspiration revient pour éclaircir tes jours et tes nuits. En tout cas cela me fait très plaisir que tu passes... Grand bises amicales et tendres.

Pat Tillett said...

More lions than I've ever seen in my life. All of them great and some so very old. Great post. Skulls and now lions...

Lydia said...

A perfectly wonderful post, Owen. I turned on the music (great selection!) and really took my time scrolling and re-scrolling through these exceptional images. The last one is my favorite sculpture, except for the tragic sense I have that he is being squeezed by a snake. For some reason #17 was the one that I sunk most deeply into. Can't say why, exactly. There is just something to it that drew me in.

(So weird about the Google search you mentioned in comments to me!)

Stickup Artist said...

Impressive! Leave it to you to find another unique thread/motif of images. What an amazing collection. Of course, I'm thinking another book. The variety of stylization is fantastic. I'm sure researching this motif would be great fun and a most interesting read coupled with your wonderful photos...

the paris apartment said...

Absolutely fascinating and stunning collection of images.

Peter Olson said...

If you want to beat your own record of lions, maybe a trip to China? :-)

Thanks for Dire Straits!

Catherine said...

what an amazing sequence....

Connie said...

These lions are WONDERFUL in all their stony majesty. Gorgeous. So...I've been scrolling & scrolling through your blog and I just gotta say...I LOVE IT. Merci.
Connie*