The Conceptualization of a Guardian Angel: The Wind Lion God of Kinmen
The ancient Chinese made stone statuaries for different purposes. Be it a facsimile of a human being or an animal, the stone figure is always embedded with the hopes and fears of the Chinese people. The stone guardian figure ‘Wind Lion God’ (fengshiye) from a small isolated island between Taiwan and Mainland China named Kinmen is no exception. This lion-headed deity pervades extendedly throughout every entrance of the villages; standing guard against the monsoon wind from Northeast.
On this 20x15 square kilometers island, there are approximately one hundred Wind Lion God protecting the properties and welfare of the villagers (Yang & Lin 2000, p.40). Unlike other guardian figures which have solemn or ferocious perspectives, the Wind Lion God has extreme facial expressions and overly exaggerated sexual organs. Some of them even wear capes like those superheroes from comic books. These hilarious characteristics make you wonder whether these “Looney Tunes” are capable of performing their duties.
In 1995, the county government of Kinmen invested millions of dollars on a Wind Lion God Sustainable Park project. The idea was to replicate all of the lion guardian statues from around the island and place them within the precinct of this particular park. This costly project also incorporated a 50 foot high Wind Lion God statue to stand directly in front of the park to act as a landmark of Kinmen. Ironically, a devastating hurricane brutally cracked this monumental “guardian of wind” and damaged several statues in the theme park right before its completion. Although one might think this overwhelming event would jeopardize the faith and reverence of the Kinmenese towards this divine creature, the worship of Wind Lion God still remains and continues to be admired on this small island. Therefore, in this paper, I shall argue that the reverence of Wind Lion God is not just a wanton idolatry but an affection that entwines love and aversion contributing to the formation of this peculiar guardian angel of wind.
Keywords: Wind Lion God, Kinmen, Guardian Angel
Dr. Min-Chia Young
Research Assistant; PhD student, UNSW, University of New South Wales