Sunday, March 25, 2012

K is for Komainu

This guy guards my front door.  I used to have two of them, but the un-gyo (close-mouthed komainu) was broken during a move.  I guess my home is only half-protected from evil since I only have the a-gyo (open-mouthed komainu).

Together, un-gyo and a-gyo (aun-gyo) represent the beginning and the end, infinity.  Evil spirits are expelled through he mouth of a-gyo and good spirits are kept in through the closed moth of un-gyo.

Guardian dogs or lions are common in Asian cultures.  In Japan, they are "Komainu" and "Shisa" in Okinawa.  In China, they are called "Shishi".  In Myanmar, they are "Chinthe".  They are found guarding Buddhist, Shinto, and Ryukyuan shrines, temples, and altars.

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