DESCRIPTION: A great pair of wood koma-inu dogs (also called Shishi or Fu dogs) covered overall in a dark brown lacquer with traces of gilt. Such dogs were always found in pairs, male and female. Huge stone examples were placed at the entrances of Buddhist temples to protect against evil spirits. These smaller wood versions were used on either side of sacred shrines as part of the internal decoration. The name “Koma-inu” means dog of Koryo, after the medieval Korean dynasty from which they spread to Japan.
Here we see the male dog with one center horn and closed mouth, and the female with open mouth. This is to represent the chanting of the sound “ah” (with open mouth), and the sound of “um” or “ng” (closed mouth). These sounds stand for the concept of alpha and omega, the beginning and end (or infinity), meaning the dogs were carved as if in eternal prayer. These carvings date from the 17th/18th century Edo Period (1603 – 1868) and are in good condition with surface wear consistent with age and usage, but no splits or cracks. These wonderful large, sculptural carvings are not only delightful to look at, but offer the buyer their protection and prayers as well. DIMENSIONS: Male dog 14” high (35.5 cm) X 14 ½” wide (37 cm); female is just slightly smaller.