Antique Chinese Style Temple Guardian Lion Foo Dogs Imperial Lion - 69cm/28" (Pair)

Guardians of Tradition: Unveiling the Symbolism of Chinese Foo Dogs


Nestled at the entrances of temples, palaces, and homes, the enigmatic figures of Chinese Foo Dogs, also known as Fu Lions or Imperial Guardian Lions, stand as silent sentinels of tradition and symbolism. These mythical creatures, with their imposing stature and intricate details, hold a special place in Chinese culture and art.

In this blog post, we embark on a journey to unravel the symbolism, history, and cultural significance of Chinese Foo Dogs.

The Origin and History

  1. Lion Symbolism in Chinese Culture: Despite the name "Foo Dogs," these creatures are not dogs but lions. Lions, traditionally not native to China, were introduced to Chinese culture through trade and cultural exchanges along the Silk Road. Over time, they became symbolic representations of strength, protection, and imperial authority.

  2. Ancient Roots in Buddhism: Chinese Foo Dogs have strong connections to Buddhism, where lions are revered as sacred animals. It is believed that the Buddha tamed a mythical lion, signifying the control of one's inner nature. This association with Buddhism led to the integration of lion symbolism into Chinese art and iconography.


Symbolism of Chinese Foo Dogs

  1. Guardianship and Protection: One of the primary roles of Chinese Foo Dogs is to act as guardians and protectors. Placed at the entrances of buildings, they are believed to ward off evil spirits, negative energy, and malevolent forces, ensuring the safety and well-being of those within.

  2. Yin-Yang Symbolism: Foo Dogs are often presented in pairs, with one depicting a male and the other a female. This duality represents the balance of yin and yang energies. The male, often shown with a ball under its paw, symbolizes the world, while the female, with a cub, represents nurture and protection.

  3. Imperial Significance: In imperial China, Foo Dogs were associated with the emperor's authority. They were placed at the entrances of palaces and government buildings, signifying the strength and stability of the ruling regime. The presence of Foo Dogs conveyed a sense of imperial power and protection.

  4. Symbolic Elements: Various elements in the design of Foo Dogs carry symbolic meanings. The open mouth is believed to ward off evil spirits, while the closed mouth is said to contain good energy. The ball under the paw represents the unity of the family or the world, and the intricately carved details often include mythical creatures and symbols.

  5. Feng Shui Significance: In Feng Shui, the placement of Foo Dogs is carefully considered to harness positive energy. Placing a pair of Foo Dogs at the entrance of a home or business is believed to invite prosperity, good fortune, and protection into the space.


Chinese Foo Dogs, with their rich symbolism and intricate designs, stand as enduring guardians of tradition and cultural heritage. Beyond their aesthetic appeal, these mythical creatures embody the principles of protection, balance, and imperial authority.

Whether adorning ancient temples, imperial palaces, or modern homes, the presence of Chinese Foo Dogs continues to resonate with a timeless significance that transcends generations, inviting us to contemplate the profound layers of symbolism embedded in these magnificent sculptures.