Vandal attacks Chinese lion statues outside Chinese-American Museum of Chicago

Guardian lions that were donated to the Chinese-American Museum of Chicago last year, and that were vandalized this month. Photo credit: CCAM
Guardian lions that were donated to the Chinese-American Museum of Chicago last year, and that were vandalized this month. Photo credit: CCAM

Why would anyone do this?

Two weeks ago, an unknown man took a hammer to two lion statues that stand outside of the Chinese-American Museum of Chicago. Within a few minutes, he had knocked out a tooth in the mouth of each statue, before walking away.

The museum has released security camera footage of the man, which do not appear to show the man keeping the teeth as souvenirs. Instead, this seems to be pure — weirdly premeditated — vandalism.

Vandalism that is estimated to have cost $10,000 worth of damage.

(Photo of damage and security camera footage after the jump.)

An image of the vandalized teeth outside the CCAM. Photo credit: DNAinfo/Casey Cora
An image of the vandalized teeth outside the CCAM. Photo credit: DNAinfo/Casey Cora

Stone lions are traditional symbols of good fortune, that are typically placed in front of one’s front door to protect one’s family from evil. The lions — like the vandalized statues donated to the Chinese-American Museum of Chicago last year — are often also a matching set, with one male (the lion holding a ball) and one female (the lion holding a lion cub).

The statues installed in front of the Chinese-American Museum were donated by Chinese officials. The lions were each hand-carved by artisans in China’s Fujian province out of a single piece of blue stone to celebrate the museum’s centennial.

On the eve of March 2nd, a man can be seen on security camera footage trudging through the snow with a hammer. He swings several times at the lions on-tape, before calmly walking away.

The vandalism is devastating, because it has irrevocably destroyed a fantastic piece of artwork. Even recovering and repairing the teeth cannot restore the lions to their original state.

But one thing seems certain: The incident has shaken up [CCAM director Anita] Luk and others in the Chinatown neighborhood.

“By knocking out the lions teeth, they knocked out the lions’ power,” she said.

Museum officials are urging anyone with knowledge of this incident to call the museum at 312-949-1000.

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