Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Ceramics, Room 137, The Curtain Foundation Gallery

Figure

ca. 1750-1850 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

A shishi is a mythical beast sometimes known as a 'Chinese Lion' or 'Dog of Fo'. Their carved figures are often found, usually in pairs, in the grounds of temples or shrines, where they guarded against evil spirits and demons. This particular shishi is made of glazed stoneware and was produced at the Bizen kilns (modern Okayama Prefecture) in Japan. Shishi are often shown near waterfalls or amid rocks and peonies. They are said to cast out their young from a high rock. If the cub begins to climb up again it is judged to be a perfect beast. Many depictions of shishi climbing up rocks are found in Japanese art.


Object details

Categories
Object type
Materials and techniques
Glazed stoneware
Brief description
Figure of shishi, glazed stoneware; Japan, Bizen, Edo period, ca. 1750-1850
Physical description
Figure of a shishi, stoneware with thin glaze, Bizen ware.
Dimensions
  • Height: 13in
  • Length: 78.5cm
Measurements taken from registers
Style
Gallery label
FIGURE OF A SHISHI Stoneware with thin glaze Bizen ware JAPANESE; c. 1750-1850 193-1877 A shishi is a mythical beast sometimes known as a 'Chinese Lion' or 'Dog of Fo'. Their carved figures are found, usually in pairs, in the grounds of temples guarding against demons. This shishi may have served the same purpose in a domestic shrine. Shishi are also often shown near waterfalls or amid rocks and peonies. Shishi are said to cast out their young from a high rock. If the cub begins to climb up again it is judged to be a perfect beast. Many depictions of shishi climbing up rocks are found in Japanese art.
Object history
Purchased from a source not recorded in the Asia Department registers, accessioned in 1877. This acquisition information reflects that found in the Asia Department registers, as part of a 2022 provenance research project.
Subject depicted
Summary
A shishi is a mythical beast sometimes known as a 'Chinese Lion' or 'Dog of Fo'. Their carved figures are often found, usually in pairs, in the grounds of temples or shrines, where they guarded against evil spirits and demons. This particular shishi is made of glazed stoneware and was produced at the Bizen kilns (modern Okayama Prefecture) in Japan. Shishi are often shown near waterfalls or amid rocks and peonies. They are said to cast out their young from a high rock. If the cub begins to climb up again it is judged to be a perfect beast. Many depictions of shishi climbing up rocks are found in Japanese art.
Collection
Accession number
193-1877

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest feedback

Record createdDecember 7, 2007
Record URL
Download as: JSONIIIF Manifest