Try to Explain That Picture

'[i]When he ate, he realized that these ten lions were in fact ten stone lion corpses.
Try to explain this matter.[/i]'
-[u]Lion-Eating Poet in the Stone Den[/u] by Yuen Ren Chao (1892-1982)

The poem is essentially the Chinese version of the legitimate English sentence 'Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo' (Read about it on Wikipedia!), but is instead using shí. Written in Classical Chinese, the changes and appearances of homophony over 2,500 years make the poem, when spoken in Mandarin Chinese, a complete, incomprehensible mess, though understandable to those educated in the Classical system. It was written to make fun of the idea that all written Chinese is somehow 'romantic' to Westerners who don't understand a word of it.


Shishi (石獅), incorrectly known as 'Fu/Foo Dogs' in English, are depictions of lions through Chinese sculpture and art that are usually viewed as guardians of tombs, temples, and palaces. Though there isn't strong evidence of a lion species in China, more modern archeological finds show that there may indeed have been a now extinct Asiatic lion that roamed the Chinese landscape. The use of the shishi began in the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD) and has evolved it's aesthetic appearance over the dynasties, but is usually depicted in pairs - one female, one male - the male holding a ball and the female a cub under paw. Guardians lions also appear in religious context in Buddhism and as auspicious symbols in other art.

Part 2 of the Chinese Mythology Series. Next up: Qilin

Traditional - Recycled Paper, Sakura Micron Pens, Faber-Castell White Pencils, and Mechanical Pencil.

Original is for sale
Try to Explain That
Futakuchi onna