Foo Dog Tattoos: defending our homes (and skin)

Dog or lion? From China or Japan? The origin of the legend of the “stone temple dog” is lost in the mists of time and, according to Feng Shui, they work best as a pair.

The sacred Chinese dog is commonly known in the western world by the name of Foo (or Fu) Dog. But the funny thing is that, in reality, these “dogs” are actually lions…

Stu Pagdin, House Of Daggers, Adelaide, Australia
Stu Pagdin, House Of Daggers, Adelaide, Australia

In their country of origin they are known as “shishi” which means “stone lion” However, in a broader sense, the Foo Dog is also seen as a guard dog or “stone temple dog”. So there is still a bit of confusion.

Their main task is to repel both evil spirits and negative energy and, as tattoos, they stand for concepts such ase protection and friendship.

The Foo Dog has ancient roots. Some say it dates back to the old Han Dynasty (from 206 B.C. to 220 A.D.) even though they only became widespread around the year 600 A.D. (during the Tang Dynasty) when the legend of these dog-lions crossed the border from China and spread all over Asia.

Luca Ortis, Private Studio, London, UK
Luca Ortis, Private Studio, London, UK

In Japan, the Foo Dog is called “karashishi” and, in the eye of the beholder, has the appearance of a lion.

These statues are traditionally sold as a pair, male and a female. The female represents Yin and protects the people who live in the home while the male – the Yang – defends the house itself, from the foundations to the roof.

It is easy to tell them apart because the female has a cub beneath her paw, and is therefore a clear symbol of motherhood.

Jess Yen, My Tattoo, Alhambra, USA
Jess Yen, My Tattoo, Alhambra, USA

The masculine element however, appears to be playing with a sphere (the world) he holds under his paw. Basically, one statue is rearing the young while the other is dealing with the natural world surrounding it.

As far as modern homes are concerned, according to the rules of Feng shui, the most favourable position for the Foo Dogs is the female on the left of the entrance and the male on the right. Should you decide to buy a pair, be sure never to separate them and always place them on either side of a door. Watch out: if you split them up and put them in separate rooms, it will spoil the beneficial effect.

Zhan Shan, Zhan Shan Tattoo, Beijing, China Yushi, Guru Tattoo, San Diego, USA Tomo, Silk Needle Tattoo, Nagaoka, Japan Shige, Yellow Blaze Tattoo, Yokohama City, Japan Nicklas Westin, Family Art Tattoo, Barcelona, Spain Maverick Reeve, Progression Tattoo, Adelaide, South Australia Koan Martinez, Family Art Tattoo, Barcelona, Spain Johan Svahn, Immovable Tattoo, Malmo, Sweden Choshu Horikazu, Horikazu Tattoo Studio, Yamaguchi, Japan Alan Ferioli, Stay Gold Tattoo, Reggio Emilia, Italy Maddison Magick, The Tattoo Emporium, Nottingham, UK Kenji Shigehara, YK Tattoo, Saitama, Japan

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