Chinese stone lions take pride of place in Nottingham

Nottingham’s Chinese sister city of Ningbo has given the city two magnificent Chinese stone lions which will be officially unveiled at Highfields Park at The University of Nottingham on 21 September.

The gift of the lions, which were lifted into place by crane this week, further strengthens the decade-long links between Nottingham and Ningbo, and in a reciprocal gesture, Nottingham is presenting a full-size replica of the famous Robin Hood statue to Ningbo as part of a delegation visit later in November this year.

The lions will be officially unveiled at a special ceremony by Councillor Jon Collins and Ningbo Vice-Mayor Mr Wang Jianhou at Highfields Park on 21 September, as part of the Chinese delegation visit to Nottingham.

The delegation includes more than 100 representatives from business, local government and education as well as a 16-strong troupe of Tai Chi performers who will demonstrate their art in a display during the welcoming ceremony on 21 September.

The two stone lions will be placed on plinths in front of the lake at Highfields Park, looking at each other, with their bodies facing towards the Jesse Boot statue, with the University’s Trent Building behind. Each statue is more than two metres tall and weighs 3.5 tonnes on its plinth.

The male lion stands with his paw on a ball, representing supremacy over the world, while the female stands holding her cub, representing nurture. The statues are suggestive of the lions guarding the Forbidden City, and statues of guardian lions have traditionally stood before Chinese Imperial palaces, Imperial tombs, government offices, temples, and the homes of the powerful.

Following the unveiling ceremony, representatives from Ningbo will travel by tram from The University of Nottingham tram stop over the iconic Ningbo Friendship Bridge across the A52 and into the city centre, where they will see the original Robin Hood statue neat Nottingham Castle and be guests at a civic dinner at the Council House.

Professor Hai-Sui Yu, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Global Engagement at The University of Nottingham said: “The generous gift of two stone lions, which complement the icons of Old Market Square, will act as a unique, visual symbol of enduring relations between Nottingham and Ningbo.

“Our links to Ningbo began in 2004 with the establishment of the first sino-foreign collaborative university in China (The University of Nottingham Ningbo China). Our pioneering relationship has gone from strength to strength, with growing student numbers and research funding and industry and government partnerships in fields such as marine economy and technology, digital economy, advanced materials and sustainable energy technologies”

Councillor Jon Collins, Leader of Nottingham City Council, said: “We are honoured to receive the gift of these Chinese lions from the city of Ningbo to celebrate the tenth anniversary of our association. This particular site has been chosen for the lions, symbolically standing at the entrance to the University and the gateway to the City.

“It is a fitting gesture to the University’s pioneering work in establishing itself in Ningbo and opening the door to wider connections being made across the city.”

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