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Stone Dogs in Leizhou Peninsula

Updated: 2014-12-25

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In the Leizhou Peninsula, at the southernmost tip of the Chinese mainland, various stone dogs can be spotted at village entrances, ancient roads and ancient gates. These roughly carved stone dogs, which have turned grayish after a long period of rain and wind, are the gem of the peninsula's time-honored unique culture, attracting many tourists from both home and abroad.

Currently, there are about 15,000-25,000 stone dogs in Leizhou, which date back to the Shang Dynasty (16th century-11th century BC). In ancient times, the peninsula was sparsely populated, with dry weather conditions and many thunderstorms. Ancient ethnic groups from the middle and lower reaches of theYellow River, such as the Li, Liao, Yao and Tong, lived in the Leizhou Peninsula. At the time, since Leizhou ancestors were very vulnerable to natural disasters and natural phenomena, they had to depend on certain objects as totems to pray for protection. Since theYao ethnic minoritybelieved in the power of the dog, people in Leizhou regarded the "stone dog" as their totem. Although the Yao ethnic minority merged with theHan nationalityafter the Tang and Song dynasties (618-1279), the worship of stone dogs was handed down until today.

The stone dog is a unique form of art and culture belonging to the Leizhou Peninsula, which is rarely seen in other places in China and the world. The dogs are depicted in various postures: some smiling and open-mouthed, some with a simple, naive look, while others have a horrifying demeanor or big noses and fat ears, in either a sitting or squatting position. The sculptures fall into different groups according to region, period and shape.

In Leizhou, the biggest stone dog is more than two meters long, while the smallest, only 10 cm; the heaviest weighs around 1,000 kg, while others are generally the size of actual dogs. Among them, the oldest stone dog group dates back to the Southern and Northern Dynasties more than 1,400 years ago and is now distributed along the Stone Dog Slope near the old site of Hezhou Prefecture (present-day Leizhou).

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