Shiisaa

Shiisaa
Shisa or Shiisaa (Okinawan: siisaa) is a traditional Ryukyuan decoration, often found in pairs, resembling a cross between a lion and a dog. Many people put a pair of Shiisaa on their rooftops or flanking the gates to their houses. Shiisaa are wards, believed to protect from various evils. When found in pairs, the shiisaa on the right traditionally has an open mouth, and the one on the left, a closed mouth. The open mouth to let good spirits in, and the closed mouth to keep bad spirits out. Originally pairs like this were called "shiisaa and guardian dogs": the left with its mouth closed is the guardian, the right with its mouth open is the shiisaa. Some people believe that one is male and the other, female, and provide various justifications for which is which; for example, "the female has her mouth shut as she should" or "the male has his mouth shut to hold in all the family's good fortune". The shiisaa is a variation of the guardian lions ("fu dogs") from China.

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