How to Select Antique Foo Dog Figurines

You're feeling pretty down lately; finances aren't what they should be, your luck hasn't been great, and you're just kind of lonely. Antique foo dogs might be the solution. Your friends will think they're just beautiful antique Chinese statues, but a Chinese foo dog is meant to not only guard your business or home, but it's also meant to bring luck, protection, and wealth.

What Are Foo Dogs?

In Chinese mythology, foo dogs actually aren't dogs at all; they're lions. These lion-dogs are also referred to as "fu dogs," and some call them "Buddha dogs. These decorative, meaningful pieces of art have been around for thousands of years.

  • These guardian lions are called foo dogs because "foo" (or "fu") is the Chinese word for "shishi" (or "stone lion"). They are used to guard temples, businesses, palaces, and homes.
  • Foo dogs aren't meant to be by themselves. Traditionally, you need a pair of these dragon-like figures on either side of a doorway to achieve maximum results, as per the history of the statue.
  • Feng shui is often associated with a foo-dog statue. For instance, the female should be on the left and the male should be on the right.

What Are Foo Dogs Made Of?

Selecting your own shishi lion or pair of lion-dogs means selecting a material that appeals to you. Traditionally, they're carved from jade or even bronze, but there are many types of materials from which to choose.

  • Jade is a traditional material and according to Chinese tradition, it's more than just a lovely green type of stone, as it's meant to create purity and balance.
  • Hand-carved stone is another material from which foo dogs are commonly made. These heavy foo-dog statues are meant for outdoor use, especially if they're large.
  • Smaller versions of the foo are made from ceramic or porcelain and are painted in assorted colors. These vary from solid colors to multicolored designs that make the details of the art come to life.

What Are Some Distinct Features of Foo Dogs?

At first glance, these statues may seem purely ornamental, and some of them may even look the same, but in Chinese culture, choosing a guardian lion is a careful process because each feature of the shishi has meaning.

  • For proper placement, the male and the female should be placed next to each other accordingly, but how do you tell the difference? The male statue has a ball under its paw, and the female foo dog statue has a small cub under hers.
  • The faces of these little lions have meaning as well. A statue with an open mouth represents the breathing sound "om." It's also possible to have a pair of dogs with one mouth open and one mouth closed.
  • The face of the shishi represents its emotions, so it's possible to find lions with varied facial expressions. Their long claws also represent their power.