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March 2012

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Tattoo Symbolism: Shisa

Names:
Fu Dog/Foo Dog
Shishi
Shisa (Okinawa)
Lion of Buddha
Koma-inu
T'ien Kou (Celestial Dog)
Korai Inu ("foreign" dog, the word Korai referring to Korean, with the
meaning of Outside/weird)

all of them came from China, but they took 3 routes to come to Japan
and they created different products at the end.
China directly to Japan = Chinese Lion
China via Korea to Japan = Guardian Dog (at shrines)
China to Okinawa = Shisa

The Shisa was normally one large statue placed at the edge of the town
to protect them from fire (which came from the South) and evil spirits
(the Demon Gate is in the Northeast). After the Meiji period they
started putting Shisa on the roofs.

Shisa in general are supposed to protect from fire.

Guardian dogs (Koma-inu) at temples are somewhat arbitrarily gendered...

Left side: mouth closed, speaking the "mm" of "Om", known as the
Shisa, is Male and keeps bad out with his closed mouth, or is Female
and keeping in the good.

Right side: mouth open, speaking the "aao" of "Om", known as the
Guardian Dog, is Female and sharing goodness with her open mouth, or
is Male and scaring away evil with his fangs.

Female Shishi are playing with a cub and Males have a ball.



Japanese painting of Shishi with Botan flower, which seems common...these also have scales!!

Chinese-style lion in bronze.


Very cute foo-dog tattoo!
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Comments

i made a post on them a long time ago! i love foo-dogs.
oh, i've seen a lot of those shiisa tattoos. they're awesome. however, one girl i went to a convention with got it two of them on her chest, and it looks terrible. i remember a kid said "mom, why does she have two farting dogs on her chest?" and his mom blushed and told him "shhh!" hahahahhaa! but as you pointed before going to a poor artist can result into bad results.
Wow. But... why was a kid that young and ignorant at a tattoo convention with his mother? That's the first question that comes to my mind... heheh
Well I think the Shisa can be done really well or really badly, like everything else..but it looks SO great when it's done well. There's a lot to be said for the traditional designs. :D
oh, we were in a park. the girl's a cosplayer, but i'm not going to single her out because i thought her tat was shotty too. =_= it's a shame because she's a pretty girl.

i really liked the phoenix on your torso. i remember that one.