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Pair of Japanese Gilt Wood Komainu, Guardian Lions, Early 20th Century, Japan



A charming and mischievous pair of Japanese carved, gilt and painted komainu, Showa Period, 1920's, Japan. The two komainu, or guardian lions, are portrayed seated upon their haunches, heads slightly turned. The two beasts are well carved, with wonderful musculature, flowing manes, and bushy tails. Their faces a mix of ferocious and comical. The eyes of reverse painted glass with gilt highlights. One is a true komainu, (lion-dog), with a horn on its head, and its mouth closed. The other is a shishi, (lion), with its mouth open, and no horn. The komainu sports a mane and tail pigmented blue with gilt highlights. The shishi sports a mane and tail pigmented green with gilt highlights. Both figures richly gilt in gold lacquer. Komainu are protective beings, similar to foo lions or foo dogs, but specific to Shinto shrines. They are always depicted in pairs - one with its mouth open, the other with its mouth closed. The guardian with its mouth closed also sports a horn to its head is referred to as the komainu (lion-dog), while its partner is usually referred to as a shishi (lion). When paired together, the pair are collectively referred to as komainu. The komainu presented on custom wooden bases. Measurements of lions only: approximately 17.5" H x 16" W x 10" D each.


  • Dimensions
    Height: 22.5 in. (57.15 cm)Width: 21.5 in. (54.61 cm)Depth: 14.5 in. (36.83 cm)
  • Style
    Showa (Of the Period)
  • Materials and Techniques
  • Place of Origin
  • Period
  • Date of Manufacture
    circa 1920s
  • Condition
    Additions or alterations made to the original: Set on later custom wooden bases. Wear consistent with age and use. Minor losses. Minor structural damages. Minor fading. The gilding worn in some areas, revealing the black lacquer or wood beneath. Both lions with loss of pigments to the manes and tails, some revealing the wood underneath. The open mouth lion with a cracked eye.
  • Seller Location
    Austin, TX
  • Reference Number
    1stDibs: LU894723050102

Shipping & Returns

  • Shipping
    Rates vary by destination and complexity. We recommend this shipping type based on item size, type and fragility.
    Ships From: Austin, TX
  • Return Policy

    A return for this item may be initiated within 7 days of delivery.

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About the Seller
5 / 5
Located in Austin, TX

Founded in 2001, Lotus Gallery offers a carefully curated selection of furniture, jewelry, sculpture and works of art spanning millennia, continents and cultures. Although it seeks out beauty in all its forms, they specialize in Asian antiquities, especially Chinese pieces from the Han and Tang dynasties and chinoiserie. Based in Austi...

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Established in 2001
1stDibs seller since 2010
169 sales on 1stDibs
Typical response time: 1 hour
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