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Fu dogs, Fo dogs, Buddhist Lion or Temple lions

Fu Dog, Foo Dog or Lion Dog, or Chinese Temple Lions. Foo (Fu) means prosperity and good fortune in Chinese. These guardian dogs, also called temple lions, always comes in a pairs and stand to the left and right of entrances. Usually, one is male and the other female. Which gender can be seen by that the female have a puppy under a lifted paw and that the male have a brocade ball.

Lions was introduced from Indian culture especially through Buddhist symbolism. From then on 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.

When Buddhist priests, or possibly traders, brought stories to China about stone dogs guarding the entry to Indian Buddhist temples, Chinese sculptors modelled statues after native dogs for use outside their temples.

The Buddhist version of the dog was originally introduced to Han China as the protector of dharma and these dogs have been found in religious art as early as c.200 BC. Gradually they were incorporated as guardians of the Chinese Imperial dharm. However, Chinese sensitivity metamorphosed the dog into a lion, even though lions were not indigenous to China, since this seems more appropriate to the dignity of an emperor when he used the beasts to guard his gates. The mythic dog is sometimes associated with feng shui, and are often called Fu Dogs. Fu means happinessh in Chinese; however, the term Fu Dog and its variant Foo Dog, are not used in Chinese. Instead, they are known as Rui Shi (auspicious lions) or simply Shi (lions).

There are various styles of imperial guardian lions reflecting influences from different time periods, imperial dynasties, and regions of China. These styles vary in their artistic detail and adornment as well as in the depiction of the lions from fierce to serene.

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