Credited Invention of Fu Lions
The Chinese guardian lions are believed to have been influenced by lion pelts and lion depictions introduced through trade from either the Middle East or India, countries where the lion existed and was a symbol of strength. During its transportation along the Silk road (Himalayas), however, the symbol changed, acquiring a distinctive look. The first lion statue in India appears around the 3rd century BC on top of a column erected by King Ashoka. The tradition later arrived to China where it developed into the guardian lion that was later exported to Korea, Japan and Okinawa. The Lion Capital of Ashoka is a sculpture of four Indian lions standing back to back, originally placed atop the Aśoka Pillar at the important Buddhist site of Sarnath by the Emperor Ashoka, in about. The capital is clearly Buddhist and Mauryan in origin and thus probably symbolizes the spread of Dharma, and perhaps the extent of the Maurya Empire in all directions, or four parts of the empire. Alternatively, the group of four lions and bell jointly symbolize preaching of 'the Four Noble Truths' of Buddhism to all; those that emphasize the Middle Path. The symbol U with a vertical line placed symmetrically inside it symbolizes 'The Middle Path'.250 BCE
The Middle Path is the fundamental philosophy of Buddhism, the Buddhist Dharma. The Buddhist version of the Fu Lion was originally introduced to Han China as the protector of dharma and these lions
have been found in religious art as early as 208 BC. Gradually they were incorporated as guardians of the Chinese Imperial dharma.
Lions seemed appropriately regal beasts to guard the emperor's gates and have been used as such since. A 13th-century replica of the Sarnath pillar and capital in Wat U Mong near Chiang Mai, Thailand built by King Mangrai, preserves its or Dharmachakra, while the wheel on the capital, below the lions, is the model for the one in the flag of India.
Komainu, Foo Dogs of Japan
- Main article: Japanese Foo Lion