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Animals Standing on Top of Traditional Chinese Architecture

1. Let's look at the animal standing on the ends of the main ridge. It's called Chi Wen, which was one of the dragon's nine sons. Look, it has dragon's head and fish's tail. It is believed that it can summon the rain and suppress fire. You may have noticed that Chiwen is different from all the other animals that it faces the main ridge, as if it is trying to swallow it.

2. Immortal riding the phoenix- Let's look at the animals standing on the vertical ridges. Standing on the very front of the line is an immortal riding a phoenix. It said that back in Spring and Autumn Period, King of Qi was defeated by Chu. The king ran off in panic. When he was driven into corner and had nowhere to go, a phoenix stopped in front of him and saved him. Placing such animal on the ridge is a symbol of turning calamities into blessings. 

3. The second one in the line is dragon, which is ancient animal. It is believed that dragon can control the rain.

4. Behind the dragon stands the phoenix. Phoenix was regarded as symbol of peace and harmony.

5. Lion is standing behind the phoenix. In Buddhism, lion is the protection of law. Therefore, it is the symbol of bravery and awe.

6. Behind it is Pegasus or heavenly horse, which was believed to be able to chase wind and sun.

7. Sea Horse is regarded as the loyal animal in ancient Chinese history.

8. The one standing behind the lion is called Jun ni, which looks like lion but wearing long and thick horse hair.

9. Then is Ya Yu, which was said to be an legendary animal living under the water, which can suppress fire.

10. Xie Zhi, in ancient Chinese legend, is intelligential unicorn which was good at telling the right from the wrong. Therefore, it is the symbol of justice and bravery.

11. Cow was believed to be auspicious animal which can drive away disasters.

12. The last one is called Hang Shi. It looks like a standing monkey, with wings on its back and a vajra in its hand. It resemble the thunder god so much that it is placed there to avoid thunder.