Tough love: A dramatic, large Bronze Okimono depicting a pair of wrestling Lion Dogs


Our featured item for February is this wonderful, large Bronze Okimono group depicting a pair of fighting Lion Dogs, a recent addition to our collection of Japanese late 19th Century Metalwork.

As one of the “Shishi” is considerably larger than the other, it is likely a parent enjoying a “playful” wrestle with its young.



Shishi are often depicted in the vicinity of waterfalls and in Japanese legend, it is said that adult Shishi would throw their offspring from a high rock as a test of the strength and resilience of their young. If the youngster made it back to the top of the summit, it would be a worthy heir and had earned its status as King of the Beasts.

Perhaps the scene depicted in this Okimono is part of that process of preparing the juvenile for the challenges of adult life.



Shishi are also frequently seen amongst rocky outcrops from which grow Peonies as shown in the below masterful wood carved Okimono group by Shoun. The scene representing the King of Beasts amongst the King of Flowers.


Back in 2022 we wrote a blog post talking about Shishi which looks further into the origin and symbolism behind this great mythical beast. You can read that by clicking here.

For more information about this particular Okimono, please click here.



Thank you for reading. For more stories inspired by our collection of Chinese and Japanese Fine Art and Antiques, please click here.