Ancient History: The Origin of Dogs of Foo

A Pair of 19th Century Japanese Imari Vases with Dogs of Foo Finials Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

A Pair of 19th Century Japanese Imari Vases with Dogs of Foo Finials
Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

Dogs of Foo are guardian animals that originated in China and can be traced back to the Han Dynasty (206 BCE-211 CE).  These lion-like creatures were often placed at the entrances of palaces, temples, and homes to guard and protect.  Foo dogs are almost always shown in pairs, with one male and one female, to symbolise yin and yang.

The tradition of displaying foo dogs spread to other parts of Asia, including Japan, Korea, Thailand, and Singapore.  These guardian lions are known as ‘komainu’ in Japanese culture.  In addition to warding off evil spirits, these mythical creatures symbolise prosperity and success.

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A Pair of 19th Century Japanese Imari Vases with Dogs of Foo Finials
Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

This exceptional pair of Japanese Imari vases of the late 19th century features foo dog finials.  Of impressive scale, and of unusual faceted form, the vases are decorated throughout in typical colours of corals and blues on a white ground with gilded highlights.

A Pair of Chinese Blue and White Lamps with Fo Dogs Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

A Pair of Chinese Blue and White Lamps with Fo Dogs
Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

This pair of Chinese blue & white vases, now mounted as lamps, feature decoration of dogs of foo within an elaborate foliage setting.

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