Shishi · Guardian Lions

石獅 · [ shíshī ]

In China you see Shishis everywhere – the popular guardian figures are often placed in front of temples, office buildings and private mansions. Nowadays, you can see them in front of banks, shops and restaurants as well. 

In the Western world, the majestic animals are often referred to as foo dogs. Shishi translates with stone lion, so the powerful protectors have nothing in common with dogs. The Chinese representations of lions usually have little resemblance to the living animals – simply because they’re not native to China. Nevertheless, the symbol of the lion played a significant role to Chinese people. The first guardian lions date back to the 3. Century ad. Chinese became acquainted to the lion, when Western envoys brought the animals as gifts for the Imperial, zoological garden. 

Shishis always appear in pairs. The rights lion is male, the left female. Under the left paw of the male lion is an embroidered ball (sometimes even a large pearl) under the right paw of the female lion a kitten.


> Usage of the symbol

This symbol keeps off any kind of misfortune and provides protection from intruders, libel, accidents and violence. The best place for the two lions is your entrance area. But the Shishis can also guard a single room. Wherever they stand, they disperse bad energy and attract powerful Qi.

An overview of other, specific lions or related hybrid creatures and mythological figures see:


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