Photo of the Day: Stephen the Lion

Photo of the Day: Stephen the Lion

Stephen the Lion

Stephen is one of two bronze lions that guard the front of the HSBC Building in Hong Kong. Along with his companion Stitt, Stephen has been a fixture in Hong Kong since the two were installed in front of the original HSBC headquarters in 1935. Local lore holds that rubbing their paws and nose brings good fortune.

Stephen is marked by deep gouges and shrapnel holes, the result of damage sustained during the Battle of Hong Kong in 1941 when the Japanese invaded the city. In the waning days of World War II, the two lions were taken to Japan to be melted down for the war effort. Fortunately, the war ended before that occurred, yet the lions might still have been lost were it not for an American sailor who recognized the two sitting on a dock in Japan, far from home.

When the original HSBC Building closed, the lions were eventually moved to their current positions outside the new building. Moments after I snapped this photo, a well dressed trio of young men in business suits walked by. Without breaking stride, one of the men veered towards Stephen and quickly rubbed his paw. In an era where faith and tradition is often conflated with superstition, it was good to see some traditions continue. After the young man had rejoined his companions, I rubbed Stephen’s paw and continued on my way.

Photo taken December 24th, 2010.

Leave a Reply