The Lion Dog of Peking

The following lines, translated by Mrs Coath Dixey, are attributed to the Empress T'Zu Hsi of China.

Let the Lion Dog be small, let it wear the swelling cape of dignity around its neck, let it display the billowing standard of pomp over its back.

Let its face be black, let its forefront be shaggy, let its forehead be straight and low, like unto the brow of an Imperial harmony boxer.

For its color let it be that of the lion, a golden sable, to be carried in the sleeve of a yellow robe, or the color of a red bear, or striped like a dragon, so that there may be dogs appropriate to every costume in the Imperial wardrobe.

Whose fitness to appear at public ceremonies and functions shall be judged by their color, and by their artistic contrast with the Imperial robes.

Let it venerate its ancestors and deposit offerings in the Canine Cemetery of the Forbidden City on each new moon.

Let it be taught to refrain from gadding about, let it comfort itself with the dignity of a Duchess. Let it learn to instantly bite the foreign devils!

Let is wash its face like a cat with its paws, let it be dainty in its food, that it shall be known for a Royal and Imperial dog by its fastidiousness.

Let its eyes be large and luminous, let its ears be set like the sails of a war junk, let its nose be like that of the Monkey God of the Hindu.

Let its forelegs be bent so that it shall not desire to wander far or leave the Imperial Precincts.

Let its body be shaped like that of a hunting lion spying for its prey.

Let its feet be tufted with plentiful hair that its footfalls may be noiseless, and for its standard of pomp, let it rival the whisk of the Tibetan yak, which is flourished to protect the Imperial litter from the attacks of flying insects.

Let it be lively that it may afford entertainment by its gambols, let it be wary that it may not involve itself in danger, let it be sociable in its habits, that it may live in amity with the other beasts, fishes or birds that find protection in the Imperial Palace'

Sharks' fins and curlews' livers and the breasts of quails, on these may it be fed, and for drink give it the tea that is brewed from the Spring buds of the bush that groweth in the province of Han Kon, or the milk of the antelopes that pasture in the Imperial parks, or broth made from the nests of sea swallows.

Thus shall it preserve its integrity and self respect, and in the day of sickness let it be anointed with the clarified fat of the leg of a sacred leopard and give it to drink a throstle's egg shell‑full of the juice of the custard apple in which has been dissolved three pinches of shredded rhinocerous hornand apply to it piebald leaches.

So shall it remain, but if it die, remember that thou, too, art mortal ...