Sculptures of Chinese lions Shi Tzu returned to their historical place. As before, they now decorate and guard the entrance of the Omsk Museum of Education. The initiator of the return of the iconic for the city sculptures was the regional branch of the RGS.
There are legends about the history of the appearance of these lions in Omsk. The West Siberian Department of the Imperial Russian Geographical Society was established in 1877. In 1895-1897, according to the project of architect Khvorinov, a building was built in Omsk, in which the museum of the department is located. That is why the street was named Museynaya.
In 1896, the sculptures of the Shi Tzu lions were installed at the entrance to the museum building. They were donated to the museum of the West Siberian Department of the IRGS by the consul of the Russian consulate in Tacheng (China), court counselor Borneman in 1895. The sculptures decorated the entrance to the museum building until the revolution. Today they are kept in the Omsk Museum of Local History.
“We have long dreamed of returning the lions to their historical place, and today Omsk residents and guests of our city saw the lions at the famous building on Museynaya Street, which has never changed its name,” said the chairman of the Omsk Branch of the Russian Geographical Society Ivan Krott. “We are glad that the lions have returned to the museum building of the West Siberian Department of the Russian Geographical Society. I am sure that they will become a place of attraction for Omsk residents and tourists.”
If urban legends are to be believed, Shi Tzu lions do not just symbolize good luck, but also protect. The museum building caught fire in the 90s, and according to the Omsk residents, it was the lions who saved it.
“The sculptures are located on both sides at the entrance to the building: on the right – a lion, on the left – a lioness. A lion holds a ball or a pearl under its paw, which symbolizes Buddhist knowledge. A lioness holds a lion cub under her paw. In ancient China, one could judge the size of the temple or the nobility of the owner of the house by the number of curls on the mane. After rubbing the pearl under the lion's paw, you can make a wish," Igor Skandakov, director of the Omsk Museum of Education, explained the symbolism of the sculptures.
Replicas of historical statues were made by Omsk sculptor Mikhail Minin. The production and installation of the Shi Tzu lions became possible thanks to the charitable assistance of Omsk residents, a number of Omsk enterprises and organizations.
The initiative to return the lions to their "post" belongs to the Omsk Branch of the RGS and the Museum of Education. The project was supported by the regional Ministry of Culture and the public of Omsk.
This landmark event is timed to the 200th anniversary of Omsk Oblast and the 145th anniversary of the Omsk Branch of the Russian Geographical Society.