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The earliest fountain sculpture in China -- the fountain of the twelve zodiac in Old Summer Palace, Beijing
- Aug 31, 2018 -

The bronze statue of the twelve zodiac animal heads in Old Summer Palace is part of the fountain outside the Old Summer Palace Hall. It was cast in red bronze during the reign of Emperor Qianlong in the Qing Dynasty. This 12-zodiac fountain was designed by the Italian missionary Lang Shining in China, supervised by the Frenchman Jiang Youren, and made by Palace craftsmen. It is a wonder that the 12 zodiac animals representing the head of the orc represent twenty-four hours of the day, and each bronze statue sprays water in turn.

The bronze statue of the zodiac is a stone sculpture dressed in robes. The head is realistic. The caster is fine. The wrinkles and fur on the animal's head are vivid and clear. The material used for casting animal heads was the refined red bronze of the Qing Dynasty, with deep color and lustre on the outside and fine content. It had been rusty for a hundred years, and could be called a unique one. Unfortunately, such a rare work was lost in 1860 when the British and French allied forces invaded China and burned Old Summer Palace. At present, only eight of them have returned to China, of which the dragon heads are well preserved in Taiwan, while the other four are still missing.