The Stone Lion

The lion stone statue is one of the antiquities of the city of Hamedan, located at the end of a 12-meter-long lion stone street in the middle of a square with the same name.

The lion stone statue, as Hamadan people call it, is a fantastic stone statue of a lion in a field of the same name located southeast of Hamadan.

Hamedan lion statue is one of the medieval memorials which believed that were sculptures, which were symmetrically constructed at the entrance of the city, were to remove the calamity from the city of Hegmataneh.

The statues were placed on a hill believed to be a Parthian cemetery.

The lion stone statue had a twin counterpart, both located at the old city gate. At the time of the Arab conquest of Iran by the Arabs, in the 7th century BC, this gate was referred to as Bab al-Assad (the “Gate of Lions”).

The lion has a slim body and a large head. At present the statue is 2.5 meters long, 1.50 meters wide and 2.20 meters high, and today the area around the statue is an urban park.

Sculpture History

Hamedan statue of lion is more than 2000 years old and is one of the ancient historical monuments in Hamadan.

There are different theories about the statue’s history. Some reports attribute the statue to the first Persian dynasty, the Medes (728-550 BC), who believed that it would bring calamity out of Hegmataneh, and others attributed it to the Parthian dynasty. Since they know the hill that the statue is on it was Parthians cemetery (248 BC – 224 BC).

Iran’s Cultural Heritage Organization reports that the lions were first made by Alexander the Great to commemorate his commander Hephaistion.

According to historical reports, Hephaistion fell ill in the fall of 324 BC when the Macedonian army was stationed in winter in Ekbatan.

Clinton Skellard (1860–1932) notes that there is nothing left of the symbols of Alexander and other ancient men: “The lonely lion-keeper lays silent monuments in the stone of three extinct kingdoms, the Medes, the Persians, the Parthians; Around Hamedan barracks”.

In 913, when the Dilimans seized the city, they destroyed the gates of the city.

Mard Avij Dilami was planning to transfer one of them to Ray, but failed to break one of the lions’ claws and completely destroyed the other. The architect of the tomb of Bu Ali Sina placed it in its present position.

In 1968 Heinz Luchai showed that the lion is a Hellenistic statue and the monument is comparable to the lion in Charononia, built in 336 BC.

Legends of The lion stone Statue

In the past there was a belief among the people of Hamedan that if a girl was ready to get married, a mixture of honey, vinegar and milk would be poured onto the statue, and then a little stone girl would be put on the potion. If the stone stays on the milk, it indicates that she will marry soon. Also, if a woman gives birth to a boy, she will take the baby to the statue and put him under the breast for happiness. This obviously goes back to the time when the lion actually had legs.

Initially, lions were symbols of lactation and embodied courage, valor, and commemoration. Later, the statues became known as guardians and protectors against cold, storm and famine. Some believed that the city of Hamedan and its people would be protected from the events until the lion reaches the ground. The people turned to stone lions for the fulfillment of their wishes and desires, as well as for the abolition of the spell and for the prevention of cold and famine.
By doing so on various occasions, they hoped that the lion would respond to their request. Putting pebbles in the holes, pouring oil and syrup on the lion and its pilgrimage as a blessed being were part of this superstition.

The lion statue is carved from hard black stone and has a deep hole in front of it. Behind it there are other holes created by erosion and rain.

In the past, some thought that the statue contained treasure, and people seriously damaged it to find the treasure. But Hamadan’s historic statue has been restored and survived. It is interesting to know that this lion has no separation components and is made from a single piece of stone.

There are many historical and ancient monuments in the vast country of Iran, but among them an old lion has been around in Hamadan for about 2000 years and has many historical mysteries. Hamadan Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Crafts Department intends to provide the statue with a cover to protect it from rain and sunlight.

The Lion Stone - Book

The author and researcher of the book “The Lion Door of Ekbatan”, Khalilullah Beik Mohammadi, believes that the people of Hamadan symbolize the existential nature of lioness because the people of Hamedan believe that the stone statue of Hafez of Hamedan is a natural and unnatural disaster made by Suleiman Nabi. That is why they had a special devotion to it.

The lion has been mentioned as the guardian of the Ekbatan and has witnessed numerous historical epics and can be found among the myths, poems and tales of this ancient city.

In the past, the people of Hamedan, in their beliefs, regarded this stone statue as the city’s spell against the cold and abundant snow. Lions have been subject to various blasphemies throughout their lives (nearly 23 centuries) and have suffered irreparable damage.

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