Posted 6 years ago
Pair of Antique Carved Wooden Shi-Shi. Japanese (Edo Period; mid-to-late 18th century), each carved from a single piece of himtosi (Japanese cypress) wood and decorated with polychrome paint, one with closed mouth (femalei shi), the other with open mouth revealing fangs and tongue (male shi). Likely flanked an exterior temple entryway. Dimensions: Approx. 8" x 20" x6.5" each.
Shishi is translated as "lion” but it can also refer to a deer or dog with magical properties and the power to repel evil spirits. A pair of shishi traditionally stand guard outside the gates of Japanese Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. The Shishi are traditionally depicted in pairs, one with mouth open and one with mouth closed. The open/closed mouth relates to Ah (open mouth) and Un (closed mouth). These two sounds symbolize beginning and end, birth and death, or all possible outcomes (from alpha to omega) in the cosmic dance of existence.