Below Bhaktapur’s Bronze Lion

BHAKTAPUR, Nepal — Above Bhaktapur Durbar Square, atop a pillar easily 40 feet tall, sits a stylized bronze lion, its right paw held aloft.

I had originally thought it was a dog — maybe a bulldog of some sort — put there to guard members of the royal family. (I’d seen another perched figure — Garuda, in front of nearby Dattatreya Temple.) But after realizing that another poodle-like, colorful lion served as temple guardian, I understood that this creature perched on a column was, in fact, a lion.

Was it waving hello? Was it bestowing a blessing? Was it related to Buddhist hand positions, known as mudras?

I walked away continuing to wonder.

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