A sure sign that spring has sprung in Harvard Yard (apart from the overpowering smell of mulch) is the reappearance of the Harvard University bixi from its winter wrapping. The term bìxì (赑屃 / 贔屭) refers to a dragon with the body of a tortoise. Stone bixi often serve as a base for a tablet or stele. The 17-foot tall, 20+ ton marble sculpture was given to the university on the occasion of its tercentennial in 1936 by alumni who were members of Harvard Clubs in China. Although the bixi dates from the Qing dynasty, it was re-inscribed for Harvard. The annual winter wrapping, however, only began in the late ’90s and the inscription is severely eroded.
The following transcription is taken from the Wikimedia page devoted to the bixi.
A partial translation appears on the bixi’s Wikipedia page.
Harvard’s bixi looks very like one in Beijing at the 卢沟桥 / 盧溝橋 / Lúgōu Qiáo, aka Marco Polo Bridge.
I think of it as the “lion turtle” because of its resemblance to that creature in the cartoon, Avatar: The Last Airbender.