FOO DOGS― or Chinese Guardian Lions, are ancient and sacred statues traditionally tasked with guarding palaces, temples, as well as the homes and tombs of the wealthy. They are said to scare evil spirits or any wrongdoers away, very much as gargoyles do in the Western tradition. Today, Foo Dogs are sought for their unique esthetic; resplendent with the exotic mystique that comes with such an ancient and venerated mythology. They are noted for their ability to draw the eye, making quite the statement by adding a style all their own to any room they are placed in.
Foo Dogs are in fact stylized lions and owes much of their unique design to the artistic sensibilities of the Han Dynasty. Their earliest depictions date back to 208 BC but did not reach their cultural peak until the Tang Dynasty (618 to 917 AD), when the design was further refined and came to look like the creature we recognize today. In Buddhism, these noble beasts have come to represent both valor and martial vigor.
Typically, these enigmatic creatures were carved from stone and displayed in pairs of one male and one female. The male is most easily recognized by the globe under its front paw, symbolizing the Emperor’s dominion over the world. Extreme care is taken in the placement of this pair, as the female represents “Yin” energy and the male “Yang”, one is incomplete without the other and must always be placed side-by-side, usually flanking an entrance, an architectural base or some center feature. Females are always placed on the left and males on the right. One must never be placed higher than the other. Take special care to comply with these sacred rules and your home shall be guarded tirelessly, day and night, and you can rest assured that no evil spirit would dare incur the wrath of these magnificent feline-sentinels.