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Iron Fu Dogs Lion
Private Collection

Antique Chinese Gilded Iron
Fu Dogs Pair
Late Qing, circa: late 19th century
Male: H 11 in.(28cm.) x W 11 in.(28cm.), D 13 in.(33cm.)
Female: H 9.5 in.(24cm) x W 11 in.(28cm) x D 15 in.(38cm)

This pair of exceptionally fine iron fu-dogs at play is a rare find from an estate collection. The male with a sphere, and female with a cub beneath her paw, both of their massive heads are looking up, bulging eyes, square open jaws, and finely striated manes. Rising flames on their bodies indicated that they are sacred creatures. Though these beasts have the appearance of the Chinese guardian lions, their hovering position of wide stretched feet and arched backs, frolicking in twist and turn as if onto themselves, such rhythmic movement emanates an unusual playfulness that set them apart from the traditional guardian lions; both in sculptural composition and historic significance.

The lion is not indigenous to China, it was originally introduced to China as the protector of Buddhist dharma around the 1st century. They became an ever recurring symbol in Chinese culture, gradually transformed into imperial guardians, and came to represented power of the ruling class. During the Qing dynasty (1644-1911), the ruling Manchu which derived its name from the Manjushri Buddha who rides on a lion. While systematically absorbed into the Chinese culture, the Manchu capitalized on their own interests on the guardian lion, indirectly promoted a new rendition of guardian lions with the Tibetan tribute of lion dogs. These playful lap dogs rode on the high crest of imperial favors. Their introduction as guardian lion spelled a herald in form and appearance of all the fu-dogs to come throughout the Chinese art and legend, thus the transformation of Pekingese fu-dog into Chinese guardian lion.

 
Iron Fu Dogs Lion
 
  
Iron Fu Dogs Lion Iron Fu Dogs Lion
  
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