Ming Dynasty Foo Dog
Ming Dynasty Foo Dog. A Fine Ming Stone Figure of Foo Dog. The muscular Lion powerfully modelled seated on its haunches on a large rectangular base, his forelegs outstretched and long tail curled up over its back. The head nicely carved with fierce expression, with open mouth in roar position below very detailed eyes, all framed by swept-back mane, tufts of fur carved to the shoulders and chest.
One small piece of the right side of the mane is missing See photos 4 and 5. The stone of grey colour with nice aged patina. Surface wear an mineral deposits throughout the surface. Excellent condition.
China, Ming Dynasty 16th – 17th century
Height 16,5 cm.
– S. Cserno – Antiek, Amsterdam
– Private collection, The Netherlands, Mr. Hillarides. collected 1990’s.
Always standing, foo dogs are fantasy lions in Chinese mythology who serve as guardians to prevent harmful things from happening to the family. This handsome figure is standing in commanding posture. This was revered statue and was usually found outside of courtyards and temples.
*Chinese guardian lions, or imperial guardian lions, are a traditional Chinese architectural ornament, but the origins lie deep in much older Indian Buddhist traditions. Typically made of stone, they are also known as stone lions or shishi (石獅; shíshī). They are known in colloquial English as lion dogs or foo dogs / fu dogs. The concept, which originated and became popular in Chinese Buddhism, features a pair of highly stylized lions—often one male with a ball which represents the material elements and one female with a cub—which represents the element of spirit, were thought to protect the building from harmful spiritual influences and harmful people that might be a threat. Used in imperial Chinese palaces and tombs, the lions subsequently spread to other parts of Asia including Japan (see komainu), Korea, Philippines, Tibet, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Cambodia, Laos, and Malaysia.
Statues of guardian lions have traditionally stood in front of Chinese Imperial palaces, Imperial tombs, government offices, temples, and the homes of government officials and the wealthy, and were believed to have powerful mythic protective benefits. They are also used in other artistic contexts, for example on doorknockers, and in pottery. Pairs of guardian lion statues are still common and symbolic elements at the entrances to restaurants, hotels, supermarkets and other structures, with one sitting on each side of the entrance, in China and in other places around the world where the Chinese people have immigrated and settled, especially in local Chinatowns.
The lions are usually depicted in pairs. When used as statuary the pair would consist of a male leaning his paw upon an embroidered ball (in imperial contexts, representing supremacy over the world) and a female restraining a playful cub that is on its back (representing nurture).