What is it?

Originally published Spring 2008

Exploring the origins of Boxer

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It’s a question that Dean Croshere ’07 heard so much on his cross-country trip with the Boxer replica that at one point, when a woman inquired “Is it a goat?” he wearily replied, “Yeah, it’s a goat.”

What the Boxer statue actually is has been a matter of debate since it arrived on campus in 1896. Most often it is described as a qiln (pronounced chee-lin), a kind of unicorn gargoyle.

Croshere, the film and philosophy major who did his senior project on Boxer, said his research indicates it’s Suame, one of the mythological children of the Chinese dragon. However, Charles Lachman, Curator of Asian Art at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum at the University of Oregon, after examining photographs of Boxer, determined that it is a Foo Dog, derived from “Fo,” the Chinese term for Buddha. He said the dogs morphed from representations of lions, a common Buddhist symbol in India. Lachman said Boxer likely came from the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), not the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) as has often been stated.


Related stories from 2008:
Traveling with Boxer
Has the Original Boxer Been Found?
From Ore to Iron

From 2012:
The tale of Boxer's tail

Reader memories:
From 2007-08