TATTOO DESIGNS & SYMBOLS - FOO DOG - FU DOG TATTOOS
Tattoo designs - F >> Foo Dog Tattoos
Foo Dog / Fu Dog Tattoo Meanings - Foo Dog, Lion Dog, and Celestial Dog are all names given to the creatures that guarded the Buddhist temples of the Far East more than two thousand years ago. Foo dog is also called the Lion of Buddha (the lion being sacred in Buddhism), and was seen as the protector of Buddhist Dharma. Where the Foo Dog appears in tattoo designs today, it combines both lion and dog features, and is likely to be spotted with claws out and teeth showing, stalking imaginary demons.
Foo Dogs most often came in pairs, positioned at the entrance to gateways and entrances, one on each side. The male appears on the right and the female on the left. Though they usually portrayed as sitting, their stance was alert and ready for action. They were were meant to appear, both figuratively and literally, as being 'on guard'. The male was depicted with its mouth open and one paw resting on a sphere, said to represent heaven and the Buddhist law (the 'flower of life'). The mouth of the female appeared closed, while her paw rested on a lion cub, representing the earth (or the 'cycle of life'). The symbology of the mouth varied. In Japan the open mouth indicated inhaling (life), and the closed mouth, exhaling (death). In other domains, the open mouth of the male symbolized the sacred sound Om.
Often depicted as fierce, the Foo Dog's face might occasionally appear mischievous or devilish, and sometimes the expression could even look serene. Some designs have both male and female holding a pearl in their jaws, while one or the other held a spear in its paw. This symbolized the tranquillity its presence would ensure by keeping away demon spirits from the place they guarded.
In ancient China, where artists may never have seen a real lion, they modeled their statues on the common dog, causing some confusion about its real identity. Whatever it looked liked, the Foo Dog, or lion dog, was seen as a fantastic creature with power to keep harm at bay.
Once the guardian at the gates of the aristocracy, the Foo Dog today appears guarding more modest abodes and is often called the Dog of Happiness. It is seen in pottery and paintings throughout the East and is enthusiastically imitated in the West.
As a tattoo design, the Foo Dog is often combined with the peony flower, and the Foo Dog itself represents the characteristics, strengths and virtues symbolized by the Lion. The Foo Dog symbolizes strength, authority, nobility of character, pride and justice and protection. It symbolizes guardianship - I will protect you and those ideals worth protecting.
Get inspired by some great images and photos in our Foo Dog Inspiration Gallery
See also: Lion of Buddha
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