Chinese guardian lions known as shishi(stone lions).They have traditionally stood in front of Chinese Imperial palaces, Imperial tombs,government offices, temples,and the homes of government officials and the wealthy, from the Han Dynasty and were believed to have powerful mythic protective benefits. Pairs of guardian lions are still common decorative and symbolic elements at the entrances to restaurants, hotels, supermarkets and other structures,with one sitting on each side of the entrance in China.
Like most things in China, “石狮子 (shí shīzi) stone lions” have a long history. Visitors were the first to bring lions to China, offering them as exotic gifts to the emperor. After the introduction of Buddhism in China, lions took on a mythical role and were thought to stand for nobility and luck – perfect for guarding the emperor’s gate. In fact, the “fu” in “Fu Dogs” could either come from the word for “佛 (fó) Buddha” or “福 (fú) luck.”Known as “Fu Dogs” by many westerners.
The lions always come in pairs, one on each side of a gate or doorway and if you look closely under their majestic paws, you’ll see a globe under the male lion’s paw and a playful cub beneath the female lion’s.
Today, stone lions can be found all over China, from ancient palaces, to temples, bridges, homes, parks, and mausoleums, but just why exactly do Chinese people love these overgrown house cats so much? They’re an important representation of ancient times, as well as a symbol of luck. There are even lion dances where two people dress in a lion costume and perform with hopes to chase away evil spirits and bring about better fortune.