Lions at the front door! Are lion statues making a regal comeback?

Stone lions at the entrance of a home are supposed to guard against evil spirits.

Last weekend the auction crowd at a Georges Hall offering watched as confident bidding prized a $1,325,000 sale through Themy Panagiotidis at LJ Hooker Auburn.

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The 5 Oak Drive property (pictured above) sold through auctioneer, Rob Trovato at Auction Services was a six bedroom double brick residence set on a 685 square metre block. The Georges Hall record stands at $1.5 million since last year.

There were statues everywhere, but outside the front door of the house stood a tall pair of guardian lion statues, which piqued the interest of our property contrarians Jonathan Chancellor and Margie Blok. This week they consider whether lion statuary is coming back into fashion.

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HE SAID: A CONDITIONAL YES

Why stop at jungle lions? Surely it's timely to get two Pixiu statues guarding the entrance. Pixiu is the Chinese mythical creature that resembles a winged lion considered to be protectors and also possessing mystical powers of drawing wealth. It is said to have a voracious appetite towards gold and silver.

The statues of a Pixiu are commonly found on the four corners of the roofs of houses—usually houses of important people such as the emperor. One cannot touch the face and head of the Pixiu, because the touch from an ordinary person would ruin their wealth.

Fierce looking with large fangs for attacking demons and evil spirits, the Pixiu has a fat body which indicates a full stomach loaded with unlimited amounts of good fortune.

A Pixiu myth says the creature disregarded a law of heaven. And so the Jade Emperor reproached it by restricting its diet to gold, and then prevented the creature from defecating. Hence, Pixiu absorb only gold, but cannot expel it.

I've actually rarely seen a pixiu, with just the one sale of recent times when a house at Sunnybank Hills, Queensland was sold for $831,000, a gain on the $650,000 price paid by the Wu family in 2004.

But my favourite classic lions were at Loombah, the 1879 Hunters Hill residence sold in 2000 through Ward Partners agent David Ward in conjunction with Martin Schiller. The sandstone Georgian mansion, set on park-like lawns and gardens high above the Parramatta River, was sold by the sand merchant and horse racing enthusiasts John Cornish and wife Pam. With rich cedar joinery, ornate mantels, soaring ceilings, shady verandas, fine English curtains and antique Waterford chandeliers, the property takes its name from the Aboriginal word for steep banks, having been built for surveyor and lithographic draftsman Arthur Stopps. I wonder are they still insitu?

SHE SAID: YES

Lions are the king of outdoor statuary and fashionable from time immemorial – or to be more exact, for more than 3000 years when carved stone sphinxes (statues of a lion’s body with a human head) lined the road from Karnak to Luxor in Egypt - these statues remain a highlight for modern tourists.

Of course in China, pairs of guardian lions have been popular since the Han dynasty (206BC-220AD).

In Australia, lion statues standing sentinel at the entrance to a home have been popular for decades.

My favourite pair of lions graced the front path of a grand Queenslander house at Crescent Road, Hamilton in Brisbane. Named Benson & Hedges by the owners of the property, the white painted lions (lying regally on plaster plynths) were considered part of the family.

Sadly, after the house sold for $3.5 million in 2006, the statues disappeared during renovations.

The lions are best not located at the front fence, otherwise they look caged, as apparent at this Northern Territory home.

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