Used in imperial Chinese palaces and tombs, the lions subsequently spread to other parts of Asia including Japan.
Meant to be in pairs. Foo dogs are symbolic, protective statues – one is female and one is male. The female represents yin and symbolically protects the people dwelling in the home, while the male represents yang, protects the structure itself.
Each detail of the is symbolic. You can tell their gender by examining what’s beneath the paws. The male holds a ball, the female holds a puppy.
The ball represents the world and the puppy represents nature or a nurturing spirit. If it has an open mouth and the other has closed one, this may represent the in-and-out breath, or the sound of “om.”