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Stone Lion Links


Information about stone lions (lion dogs, shiisa, foo dogs) as well as koma-inu can be found at the sites below. The most detailed and interesting background on stone lions in the Orient can be found at Shisa Travelogue - four multi-page sections on the history and meaning of stone lions! If you're interested in exploring further, there is a book by Elsie Mitchell which is reviewed here: The Lion-Dog of Buddhist Asia.

Suggestions for additional links are welcome, but no commercial sites, please, unless they have something original to offer. (This page of links is offered as further information for visitors. If you're looking for photos of a variety of Chinese stone lions, the best resource is still this site itself).


1. Sites in English

ARTICLES AND PHOTOS (some with only brief notes)

China proper
Southeast Asia
Ancient Greece and Middle East
Lions in the West
2. Sites in Chinese
3. Sites in Japanese


Sites in English

China proper

Chinese Stone Lions - basic information at China Online ( (Exactly the same information is available at Chinese Stone Lions (Beijing Municipal Bureau of Tourism) -- not sure who plagiarised who).

China Confucius - more detailed background and a selection of stone lion photos.

See China - Lions at the Gate - basic information, including mentino of Juzhou City in Hebei ('Iron Lion City').

The Lion - A Symbol of Power - still a general rundown, with some additional information.

Imperial guardian lions A Wikipedia article with interesting information and a small but very clear image gallery.

Introduction to Chinese Foo Dog Lions A commercial site, but this page on Chinese Lions is useful and interesting.

Stone Lions - Emblems of Fortune - a commercial site but with interesting information not found elsewhere.

Lion Dogs quotes material by Hwee Lie Thè on the role of lions in the decorative repertoire of Chinese art. Has several photos of stone lions. Also carried at

Stone Lions Tell of a Tradition's Rise and Fall An article (Jan 2005) about Shishilipu Town, Suide County in northern Shaanxi, a village of stonemasons who create stone lions.

Stone Dogs in Leizhou Peninsula (Guangdong Province).

Lion Dog Art - Sharing artifacts with other lovers of "lion dogs".

Stone lions in Beijing with notes and photo.

Picture of stone lions in front of the Summer Palace and on the 17 arch bridge

Photos of the famed stone lions at Marco Polo bridge.
File photos of 1937 incident at Marco Polo bridge (includes some stone lions).
Beijing Tour - Lugouqiao (Marco Polo bridge) with some stone lions.

Photo of Stone Lion at Confucian Temple (Yuelu Academy) - male lion only, interesting style.

Tian'anmen (with a few notes on stone lions, but no photos). See also Tian'anmen -- the Gate of Heavenly Peace, which has references to stone lions but no photos.

Bronze Guardian Lion, Forbidden City, Beijing (China 1981, from Harry's Stuff from Cornwall)

Photos of stone lions in a variety of styles (Hainan, Sichuan, Guangdong)

Trumbull's China: Religion and Palaces have photos of stone lions in Tianjin etc.

Qing stone lions from the Wonders of China Exhibition.

Liukeng village has photo of old lion 600 years old.

Old gateway (Shanxi) with stone lions from 17th century (Octo Studio Chinese Artifact Resource)

Pictures of Stone Lions in Beijing 1 and 2 (from Saradipity)

Stone lions guard the approach to Guanlin Temple, Luoyang; photos of individual lions

Giant stone lions in front of temple in Taiwan

Photo of Stone Lion Zhanghua, Taiwan

I am the stone lion at the entrance to A-MA temple in Macau...

Stone lions - Taoism site.

Stone lions in China (from Russian personal site).

Photo of stone lion

Photo of stone lion on bridge (part of the way down the page).

Stone lions offered by a company in Shijiazhuang (Hebei) -- standard stone lions.

Stone lions from Fujian and Shantou (click on pictures to for larger image). Commercial site.

Chinese folk toys - Note on custom of attaching lion figures attached to infants in North China (no photos)
Ceramics and Sculpture site has two photos of stone lions, although the match between photos and text seems somewhat confused. One appears to be an example of a stone lion figure attached to infants.

Sunrises, Serenity, and Lions on the Beach (by Joshua Samuel Brown) John Kao, who owns a collection of over 6,000 stone lions, ranging from stone guardian sculptures that weigh over a ton to jade pieces that can be held in the palm of the hand.

Note on Jinmen (Quemoy), where lions are regarded as guardians. (Although this article suggests you can pop over to Quemoy from Amoy, Quemoy is actually under Taiwanese control). No photos.

Note on Carvings in Anhui-style Civil Residences (including stone lions) - no photos.

Stone lions have become so identified with the sensitivities of Chinese nationalism that an advertisement by Toyota showing lions bowing down before one of their vehicles caused an uproar in 2003. See this article and this article.

Other sites where stone lions are mentioned: Jiao Hill (Zhenjiang), Iron Lion Lane (Beijing), Ming Tombs, Ming Tombs, Huangshan Introduction, Large-scale ancient architecture of Ming Dynasty in east suburb of Zhenjiang.



Tombs of Early Tibetan Kings - The Tomb of Dusong Mangbujie: a description of stone lions guarding the tomb, including a photo. The same information can be found at China Tibet Information Centre site.

Guardian lion 'Senge' (Central Tibet, 20th century) - Photo of a copper-brass alloy lion from the Liverpool Museum (World Cultures Gallery Highlights)

Roofs of the Jokhang, Lhasa (China's West: Tibet, Roof of the World, by Phil Douglis) has a photo of a stone lion at the 1,300 year old Jokhang, Tibet's holiest temple. Not a clear photo (lion is silhouetted against the sky).

A Tibetan flag from Flags of the World with two white lions with green manes. Text has explanation of their significance.


Japanese lions and koma-inu:

Shishi - Lion Protector of Japan - relatively comprehensive, with lots of photos.

Koma-Inu - another brief explanation (slightly different).

What is Koma-Inu? Another explanation of koma-inu, with several photos. Photos and comments supplied by Mr Makato Terada.

Koma Inu: Lion Dog Shrine Guardians - from the Joel Cooner Gallery, Texas. Gives background of the Japanese koma-inu.

Kyoto National Museum museum dictionary: Lion-Dogs, easy-to-understand introduction to Lion-Dogs (with photos).

The Kyoto National Museum has had special annual displays of lion dogs:

1997 (Closeups of lion and lion dog from Toji Temple 1 and 2 and Takino shrine 1 and 2)
1998 (Closeups of lion and lion dog from Mikami Shrine 1 and 2 and Yasaka shrine 1 and 2)
1999 (Closeups of lion dog and lion from Kamakura Period 1 and 2 and Bujo-ji Temple 1 and 2)

Notice of planned exhibition in 2004, focussing on the work of mediaeval Buddhist sculptor Tankei - see here, including photos of a pair of lion dogs (provenance not indicated), lion dogs from Mikami Shrine, and lion dogs from Kosan-ji.

Ceramic Mythological Koma Inu at Ida-Hachiman Shrine (Japan).

Ishikawa Cultural Assets: Wooden sculptures of guardian lion dogs in Ishikawa prefecture, Japan.

Japanese Mythic Guardian Lions (Japanese Seto Ware, Early Edo Period). Chosen as 'My Favourite ROM Object' by Jeannie Parker of Near Eastern and Asian Civilizations Department, Royal Ontario Museum.

Two Lion-Dogs (Koma-Inu): Japan, Kamakura Period 13th century. Asia Society The Collection in Context - Photo.

Lion-Dog (Koma-Inu) Japan, 16th-17th century, Hofstra Museum (NY) - Photo.

Kodama Shrine -- Koma-inu at entrance a gift from Taiwanese people. (Tourist Sights of Enoshima).

Shisa vs Koma-Inu (i-O Blog) has a photo of what appears to be a Koma-Inu.

Photo of Koma-Inu from Takaoka (Toyama).

Photo of Koma-Inu at Asakusa Shrine (Tokyo), in Wikipedia article on Jinja.


Okinawan Shiisaa

The most detailed and interesting background on stone lions in the Orient can be found at this site from Okinawa:

Shisa Travelogue - four multi-page sections on the history and meaning of stone lions!

Okinawan Shiisa (lion-dogs) - A very nice collection of Okinawan shisa photos (4 pages at present) in many different styles. Photos can be downloaded.

Some photos of stone lions in Tomori, Okinawa. (Quite old lions, some featuring bullet holes from WWII).

A note about the shiisaa of Okinawa (no photos and with a dead link).



Bunhwangsa Temple in Korea (with an enlarged photo of a stone lion at this page). Another page about the temple with photos of stone lions.

The Influence of China on the Three Kingdoms and Unified Silla (Korea) - a stone lion is shown about two-fifths down the page.



Stone lions in Patan, Nepal (from the Travels of Jim and Wendy White)
Stone lions in Patan, Nepal (drawing from 1885)

Strange temple guards (from Long Strange Trip).

Gilt copper poussé throne in Mustang, Nepal, with lion figures



Stone lion at the famed Mahabalipuram Shore Temple of India

India finds more 'tsunami gifts' has a photo of a 7th century lion


Southeast Asia

Travelogue: Hue (Vietnam). A little more than halfway down the page is an item described as 'Vase in the museum, with gremlins'. Click to see a larger photo - you'll see they're not 'gremlins' but lions.

Conservation of Angkor Wat (includes a couple of Khmer stone lions).

Architecture of The Pagan Period (Burma's Classic Age -- 11th to 14th centuries) includes photos of the Manoukthiha,a double-bodied lion guarding the Shwezigon Stupa (only one of four remains).

Thai Bronze Lions This commercial page has some information about and photos of Thai lions.


Ancient Greece and Middle East

Escape from Silicon Valley: Photo: Stone Lions - Stone lions in Delos
Classical Greece Archaic Period - Stone Lion in Delos (from Classical Greece site)

Lion Gate of Mycenae (Greece).

Lions in ancient Persepolis (Persia) 2 3

Lion carvings in Gobustan (Azerbaijan) from the Rock Carvings of Gobustan

The ancient Middle East and Egypt had an obsession with lions (a good example being the Sphinx). Try a Google or Vivisimo search for more information.


Stone Lions in the West

Clevermag was seized with a passion for stone lions around the world.

Newstrom is another stone lion junkie.

Guardian lions in front of the Louvre, Paris.

Glasgow City Guide: Stone Lions

Stone Lions in Nottingham

Stone Lion in St. Petersburg (Yelagin Island Spit)

The Library Lions: Patience and Fortitude (New York Public Library)

Lions and Stone Tablets



2. Sites in Chinese:

The Stone Lions in Tiananmen

Stone Lions (石狮子) from Chinese Wikipedia. Text and photos.

Marco Polo Bridge stone lions severely weathered according to experts (风化严重 专家会诊卢沟桥石狮子)

How many stone lions on Marco Polo Bridge? (女童质疑新课本 卢沟桥上到底有多少石狮子?) Question from Zhengzhou primary school student causes perplexity among teachers. Textbooks figures range from 498 to 502.

Unforgettable memories -- the Stone Lions of Marco Polo Bridge (难忘的回忆 -- 卢沟桥的石狮子) Short sentimental piece by a young Taiwanese mixing Marco Polo Bridge, the start of the anti-Japanese war, a trip with his now deceased father to see the bridge, and memories of counting the stone lions. Uncertainty about the number (316?) adds to the sentimental effect.

7 Stone Lions from different dynasties discovered at Henan Sinye Site (2004) (河南古城新野发现七只不同朝代石狮) Lions unearthed were sculpted in Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties.

Stone Lions Betray Feudal Bureaucratic Mentality (石狮子暴露官衙意识) - Article about the practice of placing stone lions in front of government offices.

Toyota acknowledges error, didn't realise stone lions symbolise Chinese culture (丰田认错致歉不断 不知石狮子象征中国文化) A Chinese article from 2003 concerning the Toyota stone lions ruckus. (One can only sympathise with Toyota, who weren't the only ones not to know that stone lions 'belong' to China).



3. Sites in Japanese:

Koma-Inu (狛犬) Japanese Wikipedia. Text and photos.

Shiisaa (シーサー) Japanese Wikipedia. Short article on Okinawan Shiisaa along with one photo.

Komainu Net (狛犬ネット) boasting pictures of more than 1,000 koma-inu.

Komainu Research Society (狛研) Lots of interesting stuff, including an introduction to Japan's local varieties of koma-inu.

Komainu Paradise (狛犬天国) Has photos (with explanations in Japanese) of koma-inu from all over Japan -- click on links in bottom left window.

I Love Koma-Inu (狛犬が好き) Has a collection of photos from around Japan, mainly Kansai.

All Japan Koma-Inu Library (日本全国狛犬ライブラリ) Search by map, by full list, by type, etc. (See reddish-brown bar below title).

Hide3 Home Page -- for Koma-inu photos, see the bottom right column and click on links. Mainly photos from Sado, Yokohama, Niigata, Takada, Itoi-gawa, Naganao, Temples and Shrines.

World's Best Mino Ware Koma-Inu (世界一の美濃焼こま犬) Gifu Prefecture Koma-Inu Society.

Koma-Inu Tsuzuri (狛犬綴り) Photos of koma-inu from shrines centred on Tokyo.

Koma-Inu Todotsu Photo Collection (狛犬 都都逸写真集) Another collection of koma-inu photos taken in Tama and Shinjuku in Tokyo (scroll down to get to the links).

Koma-Inu Have Their Roots in the Chin Breed (狛犬のルーツは狆) Strictly speaking, more about the breed than about koma-inu.



Stone Lions in Hainan (1)
Haikou and Sanya
Stone Lions in Hainan (2)
Qionghai and Haikou
Some Slightly Different Stone Lions
Tibetan, Vietnamese, Ming


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