Sculptures – Bixi

Bixi is an interesting example of “turtle sculptures”. The tradition of their creation comes from China and the vast majority of the surviving copies are located there. Apart from China, they can also be found in other regions of eastern Asia, i.e. in Mongolia, Vietnam, Japan, Korea and eastern Russia – simplifying, in the immediate vicinity.

Bixi itself essentially consists of two components:
a) The part that could be called “Bixi proper”, is a representation of characters from Chinese mythology. Bixi or Bi Xi is one of the nine sons of the dragon, “in appearance” he is a hybrid of a turtle (body, or shell) and a dragon (head). While the shell part is usually unchanged, the head has evolved over time, from more turtle (with added elements such as teeth, something that real turtles don’t have) to definitely more dragon-like.
b) A stele, a rectangular block of stone that “stands” on the shell, approximately halfway along its length. There are some “empty” copies, not covered with any inscriptions, but most of them are covered with inscriptions. In a large part of cases, they are an epitaph, a summary of the achievements and merits of the person in whose honor a given copy was created, but there are also copies created for other occasions, such as a visit to a given place by an important person (e.g. the Emperor) or some important event.

These objects are of great importance in Chinese symbolism – in 1936, representatives of the Chinese government donated one created especially for this occasion to the American university – Harvard. The text on the stele emphasizes the 300-year tradition of the university, and the importance of widely understood “teaching” in both, the USA and China.

In the Chinese city of Qufu you can see twenty-five different Bixi, created over an eight hundred year period. Twenty-one are in the Temple of Confucius and four are in the Temple of Yan Hui – we show them below, to show “how they look”.

Sources about Qufu:,,

Sources about Bixi:, (kopia w,

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