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An Intro to Foo Dogs in Under 10 Minutes

Foo Dogs, a symbol of protection in Chinese feng shui, are often seen “guarding” the front doors of houses and other buildings. But, contrary to what most people think, they don’t show dogs at all. Instead, they show lions. They are always shown in pairs and are usually made from granite, marble, or other ornamental stone.

But if they were cast, they could also be made of iron, bronze, or ceramic. Because the materials and labor needed to make these sculptures were so expensive, they were usually only made for the richest and most important families and for imperial palaces, tombs, and government buildings. This happened because the statues were very expensive. Because of this, they became symbols not only of holy guardians against evil energy but also of high social status.

What are the origins of the Fu Dogs mythology?

Their mythology can be traced back to Buddhism in China during the Han Dynasty around the second century B.C., and its roots can be found in the religion’s early days. In Buddhist folklore, it is said that speaking out about the truth of the Dharma is like “roaring like a lion,” and that doing so would eventually make all other voices go silent.

Asiatic lions were brought to China by trade along the Silk Road, and the ruler of that country often kept them as pets. The sculptors who made the lions for the imperial guards got ideas from these real-life pets. They are called “shi” in Chinese, which can be directly translated as “lion.”

Over many centuries, these symbolic lions have become popular all over Asia, starting in China and moving to Tibet, Thailand, Korea, and Japan. They were brought to Japan from Korea, and the Japanese called them “Korean Dogs.” They were brought to the West by the Japanese, who gave them the names “foo dogs” and “fu dogs” in those places.

Even though the Chinese prefixes mean “Buddha” and “prosperity,” they are rarely used with guardian symbols, and the symbols are never called “dogs.” The fact that these monuments often look more like Chinese dog breeds (like Chow Chows and Shih Tzus) than dangerous lions makes the references even more confusing.

What do sculptures of Chinese lions look like?

A Foo Dog is usually seen as a scary animal crouched down. Their scary looks make it less likely that people with bad intentions will enter the building. The stylized eyes, fangs, and claws of these Chinese totems are meant to show the fierceness and raw passion of the animal they represent. On the other hand, lions in European art are usually shown in a much more realistic way, with muscles that move.

Each pair of guardian lions has a female and a male version, representing the universe’s yin and yang sides, respectively. Under the male lion’s right front paw, there is an embroidered ball that stands for the world.

The mother bear has a cub tucked up under her left paw. This is meant to show that life goes on and on. In a figurative sense, he keeps an eye on the outside of the building while she ensures the people living inside are safe.

Their mouths could be wide open as if roaring to scare away bad spirits. Their mouths could also be slightly open with huge pearls, or the female could have her mouth closed. When the eyes are open or closed, the holy sound “om” is shown in both ways.

This chant is often said in Buddhist and Hindu ceremonies, as well as ceremonies of other religions. When lion statues were put in front of the homes of high-ranking government officials, the number of curls on the lion’s mane was used to show the official’s rank. The rank is higher, the more curls there are.

What color is your Shishis (Lion Dogs)?

The Chinese metaphysical arts are based on detailed observations of appearance, composition, place, and time and how these things affect the unseen forces that hold everything together.

So, color is a very important thing to think about. Not only that, but where the Foo Dogs are in the room also matters, either in terms of which way they face when they look out the window or how close their chamber is to the front door. And there you were, thinking quantum physics was hard.