These most unusual stone lions may have served as the guardian animals to a shrine. They continue a tradition of free standing guardian lions such as the tenth century figures at the Lakshmana temple in Khajuraho (M. P. Allen, Ornament in Indian Architecture, Delaware, 1991, pl.239, and p.209). The musculature and position however are atypical for most Indian carving.
These lions show a surprisingly close afinity with two Austrian stone lions attributed to the 15th century sold in these Rooms Important European Furniture, Sculpture, Tapestries and Carpets, 12 June 2003, lot 1037. The position with raised front paw, rear lower leg slightly arching over the flat base, the flat base made integrally with the lion, and the treatment of the moustache are very close indeed. There are certain differences: the present lions are considerably more lively and sinuous in stance, and the mane is rendered similarly to the moustache, where on the Austrian examples the mane is much less curled. Ours have animals under the paws where the others had nothing, at least nothing surviving; the tongues of the others also protrude noticeably, hanging down to the paw. Seen together however, while there are features of the European lions which preclude their being Indian and vice versa, both pairs appear to be contemporaneous with each other and it is difficult to believe that they were created each in complete ignorance of the tradition of the other.