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16977

Pair of Fu Lions
Item No. 16977

19th Century, Buddhist, China
Lacquer over Wood
9" x 4" x 3"
( 22.86 x 10.16 x 7.62 cm)
(H x W x D)

Guardian Fu Lions have been an integral part of Chinese culture, mythology, religious beliefs and artistic creations since the arrival of Buddhism to China placed as protective figures in front of buildings of importance such as temples, monasteries and administrative government offices to guard against evil. In recent times, especially during the Ch ing dynasty, (1662-1912) these figures have protected Chinese retail establishments and residences by being placed on roofs, on home altars, or near the front door to protect the structures from demons and evil spirits. In current times, they are an integral part of placement within the contest of feng sui beliefs

Known by many names such as Guardian lions, Buddhist Lions, Fu Lions, Lion of Corea, Lion-dogs, Dogs of Fu, Fu Dogs and called Shi (sE) in HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_language" \o "Chinese language" Chinese, these mythological creatures have become familiar icons to easterners and westerners alike. Their function is to protect and guard against evil and they are traditionally placed as protective figures in front of buildings of importance such as temples, monasteries and administrative government offices. In more recent times, especially during the Ch ing dynasty, (1662-1912) these figures have protected Chinese retail establishments and residences by being placed on roofs, by doors, on home altars, or near the front door to protect the structures from demons and evil spirits. In current times, they are an integral part of placement within the contest of feng sui beliefs

The lion is not indigenous to HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China" \o "China" China. Thus, when the mythic version of the these animals was originally introduced to Han China as Buddhism wended its way along the Silk Roads, representations of these animals inspired the imagination of Chinese artisans who used as their models the many Asian breeds of dogs referred to as under the table dogs  due to their short legs and short heads.  The earliest of such dogs was the Pug, which can be traced to the Zhou dynasty (1123-256 B.C) , and also includes the Pekingese, Shih Tzu, and Lhasa Apso --- all canines with long dense coats, distinctively flat faces , and prized for their intimate relationships with their human masters.

This pair of fu lions is especially charming. Each sits on a three-part high pedestal with a scalloped decoration with a lotus in the center of the bottom part, toped by a red waisted band upon which rests a row of stylized lotuses.Each has a harnesses with a bell draped around its neck, profuse mane and flat cords trimmed down the middle of the back, ending in an elaborate tail. In the Buddhist tradition, they stand guard with their mouths are open baring their teeth, but, also reflecting Buddhist beliefs, they cannot be too fierce, thus, their tongues hand out, almost in a gesture of friendship.

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