In Eastern Cultures balls have a variety of symbolic values. In Southern China balls are connected to marriage as the way to pick out one suitor.
In Chinese art the most important occurrence is the ball held under the paw of Buddhist lions guarding temple gates against demons. These temple lions always comes in pairs. Please see separate entry on Buddhist lions since this is as always when mythology is mixed up with traditions, quite complex.
Despite that the phrasing can vary, the basics is that the eastern lion rolls a ball (magic sphere) containing the lion cub, helping it to hatch out; the western lion suckles its cub.