Video: The Lions of Massa

The Lions of Massa Video

Since my chance encounter with The Lions of Woody Creek, in the guise of three huge boulders I recently discovered when skiing the former Rio Grande Railroad track-bed, my mind has once again been drawn to the four rather amazing and uniquely carved lions I stumbled across last spring. They were sprawled at each corner of the monumental edifice located at the center of a huge deserted square in the city of Massa, an imposingly grand former provincial powerhouse tucked away in north western Tuscany, just a few strategic miles from the marble quarries of Cararra and the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.

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Rio Grande Rail-Bed Trail, Nordic, Woody Creek CO by MARTIN COONEY

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The sudden appearance, in my mind’s eye, of a lion where none exists has put me in mind of a most amazing collection of carved lions I think I have ever seen. And believe me, from Trafalgar Square to seemingly every city center in Europe… I have seen a great many sculpted lions in my time.

I blogged about these lions in my Rogue Carver on the Loose in Italy dispatch ‘Massa to Myselfa’ but in the intervening time I have had plenty of opportunity to study the pictures I took that day, and each time I examine them my appreciation grows still deeper. How brilliantly conceived and expertly carved these magnificently complex beasts are !

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The Lions of Massa

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Firstly, their look is reassuringly animalistic, yet they all share strangely hauntingly human facial characteristics. The melding of these two traits smacks of brilliance to me. Secondly, the precision lavished upon every inch of the entire massive sculpture is nothing short of incredible. No matter how closely you look you’ll find layer after layer of the most deftly sculpted detail. A sculpting masterclass aged in a weathered patina that combines to create a surface so richly textured it would be quite impossible to replicate. Its a marvel that it has survived so well given its obvious age, and really very nice of all the graffiti artists, merry pranksters and the like, to have left it completely alone (the odd missing fang excepted)… to age with such grace and dignity.

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The Lions of Massa

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the video

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Kitty the cat at rest 014

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Of course there may be other mitigating factors in my seeing lions here there and everywhere.

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MCSC, Griffin 002

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Miss Kitty, our resident mouser and a ‘lion’ in every sense of the word, is never too far from my thoughts.

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Until next time, thanks for stopping by.

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