What Does a Lion Represent?

The lion symbolizes different things in various cultures and religions. Christianity often represents Jesus' divine and human natures through the lion, whereas Hinduism considers the "pot-bellied lion" a symbol of blind greed. The lion has represented power and strength, but also cruelty and savagery.

Many interpretations focus on the dual nature of the lion. In ancient Egypt, lions appeared back to back facing east and west to track the movement of the sun across the sky, simultaneously symbolizing yesterday and tomorrow, as well as death and rebirth. Christianity assigns the front half of the lion the majesty and divinity of Christ's holy nature, with the lion's comparatively weaker hindquarters representing Christ's humanity.

The lion is a common figure in heraldry, though it is often confused with the leopard. In heraldry, the lion represents strength and bravery, but only attacks when provoked or in need. Some iconography separates the lion into two types, one with a curly mane and one with a straight mane. The lion with a curly mane represents a more timid nature, whereas the lion with a straight mane is often depicted with a larger, longer body and symbolizes fierceness. In heraldry, the lion can appear either rampant, rearing on its hind legs, or puissant, curled up or standing.