- Published on Friday, March 15 2013 20:04
- Written by Alexandra Martin
At the entrance to Chinese or Japanese gardens, you may have seen those two lion dog statues and wondered what they were for. In the West, we generally just call them Fu Dogs, but they are called “Shi,” meaning “lion” in Chinese. In Japanese, they are called Komainu, meaning Korea dogs, possibly because they were introduced to Japan through Korea. These guardian lions have stood in front of special places since the Han Dynasty (206 BC to 220 AD). They stood as protectors and guards.
The Fu Dogs come in pairs. The male lion represents yin and sometimes has his mouth open. He rests his paw on a ball, which represents the structure behind him that he protects. The female (yang) has a cub under her paw, which represents what she protects: those who live inside the structure behind her. The placement of the guardian lions is critical, according to feng shui design. When looking in the same direction as the lions, the male should be on the right and the female on the left.
Look at Fu Dogs more closely the next time you see them at the entrance to a garden. You may appreciate them more now!
Alexandra Martin is a professional writer from Southern California who grows vegetables, herbs, lots of aloe vera and one giant Boston fern in her balcony garden. She also grows dracaena, pothos and English ivy indoors. She loves traveling and birdwatching in addition to gardening.