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This automated clock is one half of a pair, the other one is a female lion. When the clock strikes inside the lion its eyes start rolling, the jaws open and close.
The skin covering the machinery has become worn over the years. We will have to imagine a thick mane and a golden fur on the lion.
To modern eyes the clock looks like a toy. To the 17th century spectator, it was a precious little miracle and a display of human progress. The lion was a symbol of Africa, a continent that the Europeans had recently started discovering. The clock work was a result of the human efforts to control time and the machinery showed the new mechanical knowledge.
The drawer in the clock once contained a key to the clock work, possibly a description of it and, perhaps, remains of a real lion.
It was typical for the 17th century thinking that the lion clocks were a pair. Two halves forming a whole was an important concept.
Text: Sara Dixon
Scan: Erik Lernestål