Finally, Fu Dogs to call my own

New Fu. Photo: Jason Weisberger.

In my early twenties, I became fascinated with the idea of having a set of Fu Dogs. They are beautiful and come chock full of fantastic magical powers. I like magic.

They are typically made of stone in male/female pairs, with the male resting his paw on the world and the female mothering a cub. My pair is made of wood and were architectural elements resting over the door and under the eaves of a now-destroyed temple. They also lack the world/cub depiction but something beyond the incredible workmanship and beauty caught my attention.

I saw them a few weeks ago as I was wandering around San Francisco. I loved them but I've been looking for so long, and these were a bit out of my price range, so I walked on. Earlier this week I decided to look at them again. After wandering the city for four or five hours trying to remember where I found them, I gave up. Today, I tried again and discovered them on my first try.

Welcome home!

You may notice a large number of Superb Owls in my living room.


  1. my grandmother used to have many sets of these,  (please explain the connection between Jewish grandmas and Mahjong?)      and I’m wondering if that may have been part of your inspiration/want.     either or?  that’s a cool set of Fu Dogs.   

    1. Mahjohg and tile rummy (rummy cube?) were really popular amongst the Catskills/Pochonos set of elderly jews in my family. That said, my beloved and revered (we named my daughter after her) grandmother collected Elephants, not mythical Chinese lions. 
      I think I intentionally keep some of that funny old jewish mysticism around tho. I view these lovely fu dogs much in the same way I do the a beautiful mezuzah (…. Logically, I know. Something in me loves the idea of these warding devices and that they are so beautifully made. Even if I sometimes may not believe enough, I think the person who made them very well may have. 

  2. Actually, the ball is not “the world.”  I’ve seen descriptions that say that the cub is born from an “egg” made of hair torn out when the Guardian Lion Thingies do the crazy thing to conceive the cub.  The ball is the leftover hair-ball (in some statues, you can see spare ends of threads on the ground) and the other lion/dog is suckling the cub from its paw.

    My Dad has a soapstone set from China that has the detailing described.

    In any event, congrats on the very sweet find.

  3. On Okinawa where I’m from, they are called Shii-saa. The male and female pair are guardians of the home and are placed either on the roof above the entrance or at the front gates.

  4. The Roger Zelazny novel Lord Demon completed after his death by Jane Lindskold has the hero, a courtly demon from Chinese mythology, rescuing and protecting an intelligent pair of talking Fu Dogs from their uncaring godly Masters.  Fun characters in a fun book.

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