F078 An Exceptionally Decorative Pair of Chinese Lamps, Lions of Fo-Circa 1950

"The lion and the calf shall lie down together but the calf won't get much sleep".  Woody Allen

An exceptionally decorative and large pair of vintage Chinese bisque lamps.  The lamps modelled as Lions of Fo, also known as Foo Dogs.

The lions beautifully glazed in a bright Sancai palette of enamels.  Sancai refers to the traditional three colour combination of glaze colours used, yellow, green and aubergine.  The lions with tightly curled hair and collars in green and aubergine.

The lions, male and female, seated on well modelled box stands enamelled in aubergine.  The lion resting his paw on an openwork orb of the world and the lioness restraining a playful cub.  Foo dogs are actually lions! or more correctly, Lions of Fo.  The Chinese word for Buddha is "Fo" or "Fu" which led to the original title – "Lions of Fo".  

The long history of Chinese culture is rich in symbolism and these lions were originally conceived as symbolic guardians of the Buddha or rather as symbolic guardians of the Buddhist dharma, the teaching of the Buddha.  Buddhism was first brought to China from India by missionaries and traders along the Silk Road that connected China with Europe in the late Han Dynasty, 202 BC- 220 AD.

The lions are traditionally modelled as a pair and placed at gated entrances as guardian lions, traditionally at the gates of imperial palaces, official residences, temples and imperial tombs.  Early examples date from the 10th century. 

The lions are always seated and yet always ready to rise in defense.  The lion is typically shown with one paw resting on a sphere, which is often carved as open latticework and represents both heaven and the totality of the Buddhist dharma or teaching.

The lioness is always shown with a paw resting on a small cub, the cub typically shown upside down on its back, representative of the earth.  The Lions of Fo are modelled with dog-like pointed ears and the typical lion's mane has resemblance more to a dog than a lion. 

More than likely, it is that resemblance which has caused the widespread confusion about these animals, also known as Chinese Lions and even Lion Dogs.  But the resemblance is accidental and due to the fact that virtually all knowledge of actual lions was second hand to the Chinese artists who initially created them.  Lions had never been native to China, leaving the artist to use his imagination.  The Lions of Fo are best viewed as iconographic ie the use of images and symbols to portray a subject, movement or ideal.

The lamps seated on custom designed, American maple wood, Chinese style, low table stands, lacquered in sealing wax red.  A stunningly large pair of very decorative lamps.  The lamps shown with a yellow silk shade suggestion.

Circa 1950

Overall height (including shade) 30"/76 cm approx

Lamps shipped to the US and UK are wired to US and UK specifications

Lamp shades can be ordered if required.


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Category: Chinese Chinese lamps Chinese table lamp Exceptionally Decorative foo dogs lamps Lions of Fo pair of lamps table lamps tall lamp vintage vintage lamps vintage table lamps


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