The eighth sonPosted on October 10th, 2007 after 8760 miles by Dean Croshere.
I know what Boxer is.
I can't tell you what a revelation this is. I'll try though.
I spent an untold number of hours researching Boxer and, while I had a few leads and ideas, I never found out what Boxer actually was. The leading idea was that Boxer was a "foo dog" or Imperial Guard Lion (Wikipedia link). This didn't make much sense to me. Imperial guard lions are almost always found in pairs, one male, one female, have one paw on a lion cub or globe, and stand outside to guard a building. Finally, they are large and owned by rich families.
Everything I had heard about the history of Boxer did not lead me to believe that this fit with what he is.
I knew Boxer was owned by a family of druggists in Foo Chow China. I also knew he had incense placed inside him on holy days. Finally, Boxer originated in the Ming Dynasty, about 600 years ago. (Also, both of Boxer's legs are on the ground).
It wasn't essential that I knew what Boxer was and I didn't have the time to dive into pages and pages of dragon lore, so I let it be.
I was in Philadelphia today. I took pictures of the Liberty Bell and Independence hall and a few other awesome things. Those will all be posted later.
It was when I put Boxer down in front of Independence hall that the answer was given to me. There was a group of Chinese tourists taking pictures of the Hall and they immediately turned their attention on Boxer. Most of them didn't speak English and gestured and smiled to ask if they could pick him up. They all said "uumph." One guy who did speak English asked me why I had it. I told him. He asked me what it was. I told him I didn't know.
"It's Dragon's first son." He replied, "With the scales and the stature and the hooves like a deer. Dragon's first son."
They promptly walked away. I pulled out my phone and immediately googled to see if he was right.
He wasn't. Dragon's first son is a tortoise dragon, he is often found at the base of pillars and means the building will be sturdy.
It was a lead though and I followed it up. What were the other sons? I found there were nine total.
With increasing trepidation I read descriptions of each son. Most of them weren't quite right. Finally, the eighth son, Suanni, had the following description:
"The 8th son SUANNI resembles the resplendent lion as he is usually drawn with the mane and body of a lion. He rarely moves so he is usually shown stationary. He has a preference for sitting quietly and observing. His golden body is enhanced with flames. He is often shown sitting on top of incense burners and candle stands. His presence brings knowledge and wisdom and he also ensures that the sons and daughters of the family will all look attractive." (source)
That's it. I'm sure of it. Wikipedia even says the concept originated in Ming Dynasty. Boxer is actually Suanni. Check this out.
Look about right?
Dragon's Eighth son.