Chinese Guardian Lions
Chinese guardian lions, also known as Fu lions, Stone Lions or Lions of Buddha (sometimes also called Foo Dogs) are mythical beasts which is believed to have powerful protective powers. These sacred animals have traditionally stood in front of Chinese temples, imperial palaces, emperor’s tombs, homes of government officials and government offices.
Fu Lions or Statues of Chi are often displayed in pairs, this pair, a male and a female, can be seen in the entrances of restaurants, supermarkets, hotels and traditional buildings. Traditionally, the lions are made of granite, marble or cast from iron or bronze. The placement of these lions outside new temples, homes and businesses became less common after the period of dynasties ended in 1911. But you still can see these Chinese stone lions near the entrance of many of the major landmarks in China such as the palace of the Qing and Ming Dynasties and the Forbidden City.
How to Place Fu Dogs
According to Feng Shui, the female lion should be placed on the left (when you are facing the entrance) with her left paw fondling a cub and the male lion on the right playing with a ball. The female of the pair is said to protect the interior of the place as well as its worshipping believers or inhabitants and the male guards the structure. The male lion stands taller than the female, sometimes the female’s mouth is closed and the male’s mouth is open.
It is said that the Chinese guardian lions have the ability to discover the bad intentions from someone who is coming into the house. These guardian lions prevent those bad people from causing the intended damage and help to ward off evil spirits and influences. If placed at your office’s door, they would help you eliminate bad feelings such as envy or jealousy so that it wont effect your career.
Lion in Chinese Culture
In order to indicate the ranks of the officials, the Chinese used the number of lumps on the head of the Fu Lion representing its curly hair. Lions with 13 lumps, the highest number, belongs to the houses of first grade officials and as the rank of the official went down each grade, the number of lumps decreased by one. Officials below the seventh grade were not allowed to have Fu Lions in front of their houses.
It is also interesting to note that China had no lions originally. The king of Parthia presented a lion to the Emperor Zhang of the Eastern Han in AD 87. Another lion was given by a country known as Yuezhi (central Asian) in the next year. The earliest stone lions is believed to be sculpted at the beginning of the Eastern Han Dynasty with the introduction of Buddhism into China (25 – 220 AD).