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Thread: The Lion Dogs of Shinto Temples

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    Default The Lion Dogs of Shinto Temples

    From my understanding is that the inushishi are temple guardian dogs and this tradition was borrowed from China.

    However, I noticed that in many pictures of these "inushishi" or as they call it lion dogs, One has its mouth open and the other closed. What does this symbolize ?

    Thanks !
    Prince Loeffler
    Shugyokan Dojo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Prince Loeffler View Post
    One has its mouth open and the other closed. What does this symbolize ?
    If I remember correctly (and there's no guarantee of that!) the closed mouth symbolises inhaling the first breath at birth and the open mouth symbolises exhaling the last breath at death so that between them, they cover life from the cradle to the grave.
    John Anderson

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    From what I read the open mouth is the female bringing in good luck.
    The one with the closed mouth is the male keeping th good luck in.

    Here's a good Link
    Joe Stitz

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    Quote Originally Posted by JS3 View Post
    From what I read the open mouth is the female bringing in good luck.
    The one with the closed mouth is the male keeping th good luck in.

    Here's a good Link
    Interesting, Now I know how to differenciate the gender of these statues. Thanks !
    Prince Loeffler
    Shugyokan Dojo

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Anderson View Post
    If I remember correctly (and there's no guarantee of that!) the closed mouth symbolises inhaling the first breath at birth and the open mouth symbolises exhaling the last breath at death so that between them, they cover life from the cradle to the grave.
    Another interesting answer. As I understand, Shintoism does not recognize "death", Is there a posibility that this is likely to come from the Chinese buddhism ?
    Prince Loeffler
    Shugyokan Dojo

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    The open mouth represents the "a" and the closed represents "un" sound - together this makes up the "Aum" or "Om" of Hinduism and Buddhism. These Lion Dogs are sometimes found in front of Buddhist temples, which usually have a similar guardians called "Niou". While Lion-Dog statues are found in other countries, like China and Korea, their use as gate guardians in the style of the Niou appears to be a mostly Japanese innovation.
    Josh Reyer

    Swa sceal man don, žonne he ęt guše gengan ženceš longsumne lof, na ymb his lif cearaš. - The Beowulf Poet

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    Thanks Josh !

    Off the link, I found this quote:

    Men are supposedly born speaking the "a" sound with mouths open and die speaking an "hūṃ" and mouths closed.
    Is it safe to say that the same applies to the guardian dogs ?
    Prince Loeffler
    Shugyokan Dojo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Prince Loeffler View Post
    Thanks Josh !
    Is it safe to say that the same applies to the guardian dogs ?
    Yes, I'm pretty sure I did say that.
    Josh Reyer

    Swa sceal man don, žonne he ęt guše gengan ženceš longsumne lof, na ymb his lif cearaš. - The Beowulf Poet

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    Quote Originally Posted by Josh Reyer View Post
    Yes, I'm pretty sure I did say that.
    Thanks Josh and everyone else ! Now I know !
    Prince Loeffler
    Shugyokan Dojo

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    http://www.onmarkproductions.com/html/shishi.shtml
    I found this site. It had alot of info. I didn't know they were dog, lion, or deer.
    Deb
    Debra Reese

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    My favorite pair are the Koma Inu and Kara Shishi at the Hachiman Shrine in Kamakura:
    Doug Walker
    Completely cut off both heads,
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    Quote Originally Posted by lady sai View Post
    http://www.onmarkproductions.com/html/shishi.shtml
    I found this site. It had alot of info. I didn't know they were dog, lion, or deer.
    Deb
    Great find, Thank you for sharing it !
    Prince Loeffler
    Shugyokan Dojo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Walker View Post
    My favorite pair are the Koma Inu and Kara Shishi at the Hachiman Shrine in Kamakura:

    Nice ! Did you take it yourself ?
    Prince Loeffler
    Shugyokan Dojo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Walker View Post
    My favorite pair are the Koma Inu and Kara Shishi at the Hachiman Shrine in Kamakura:

    I was there this summer - they are nice, aren't they?

    I also took pictures to remind myself ( and remember the heat wave, too)

    mew
    Margaret Welsh

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    Hello all.For those that have trained,visited Okinawa Shiisa (Lion dogs) are found everywhere.Homes,shops,dojo's etc.I asked what there symbolisim meant and was told they are to ward off evil spirits,and that the open mouth Shiisa was the wife having a nag at the husband!-ha,ha.

    Regards
    Tim
    Tim Herlihy

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