By Mark Holmquist (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
I bet you didn’t see this one coming! We tend to associate gargoyles with the Gothic architecture of medieval Europe,  but the idea of carving functional drain-spouts into the shapes of real or imagined creatures is not unique to Europe, Christianity, or the Middle Ages. Beijing’s Forbidden City, a treasure-trove of animal statuary in all forms, employs this entire row of gargoyles in its system of gutters. I’m not sure what sort of animal they are. If I had to guess, I would say pigs based on my brief research into depictions of animals in the Chinese zodiac, but they could easily be something else. In any case, I really enjoy their charismatic aesthetic.