Pair of Polychromed Stone Fu Dogs

SKU TF.024
Circa

1368 AD to 1644 AD

Dimensions

15.25″ (38.7cm) high x 8.60″ (21.8cm) wide

Medium

Stone

Origin

China

Gallery Location

UK


 

The Fu Dog, or Fu Lion as it is also known, is a ubiquitous symbol that has been employed repeatedly throughout the history of China. Sometimes referred to as the “Dog of Happiness” or the “Celestial Dog,” the earliest traces of the Fu Dog in China date to the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-220 A.D.). Then it disappeared from Chinese art until it was resurrected during the cultural revival experienced during the T’ang Dynasty (618-906 A.D.). While lions are not native to China, works of art with lion imagery from other civilizations were imported into China as gifts for the Emperor. The Fu Lion was brought into China with the arrival of Buddhism, where it became associated with the more familiar dog during assimilation. The lion is a sacred creature in the Buddhist pantheon, and the Fu Lion was believed to be a companion of the Buddha.

While sculptures of Fu Dogs such as these beautiful polychromed examples originally stood guard outside of Buddhist temples, by the time of the Ming Dynasty, when this work was created, the Dogs had lost most of their religious significance and were placed outside the entrances to homes and palaces out of custom. Even today, many monumental public buildings are decorated with lion figures standing guard at the base of the stairway. Traditionally one Fu Dog is depicted with one of his front paws resting on a globe and its mate resting atop a demon. This gesture symbolizes the Dog’s authority and power over the evil spirits that might have tried to infiltrate the temple or palace. Today, Fu Dogs continue to be a popular symbol of luck and happiness.

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