Subject:Re: Rose Medallion Plate with Mythical Beast
Posted By: Bill H Sat, Jul 08, 2017
This pattern has been raising unanswered questions for as long as I've been aware of it. The pixiu tends to get labeled as a kind of Chimera, whereas this red creature with the bifurcated tail resembles a Buddhistic lion or fu dog that got caught in a thresher. Since many legendary creatures in Korea and Japan have roots in Chinese lore, I found the following old and not so politically correct passage from a century-old book possibly relevant to this mystery, but will depend on you to investigate the possibilities.
"Dogs are not held in any honor in Japan, as they were anciently in Kokorai. Except the silk-haired, pug-nosed, and large-eyed chin, which the average native does not conceive as canine, the dogs run at large, ownerless, as in the Levant; and share the work of street scavenging with the venerated crows. Yet there are two places of honor in which the golden and stone effigies of this animal-highly idealized indeed, but still inu-are enthroned.
The ama-inu, or heavenly dogs, in fanciful sculpture of stone or gilt wood, represent guardian dogs. They are found in pairs guarding the entrances to miya or temples. As all miya (the name also of the mikado's residence) were originally intended to serve as a model or copy of the pa1ace of the mikado and a reminder of the divinity of his person and throne, it is possible that the ama-inu imitated the golden Corean dogs which support and guard the throne of Japan. Access to the shrine was had only by passing these two heavenly dogs. These creatures are quite distinct from the "dogs of Fo", or the "lions" that flank the gateways of the magistrate's office in China. Those who have had audience of the mikado in the imperial throne-room, as the writer had in January, 1873, have noticed at the foot of the throne, serving as legs or supports to the golden chair, on which His Majesty sits, two dogs sitting on their haunches, and upright on their forelegs. These fearful-looking creatures, with wide-open mouths, hair curled in tufts, especially around the front neck, and with tails bifurcated at their upright ends, are called "Corean dogs." For what reason placed there we know not. It may be in witness of the conquest of Shima by the empress Jingu, who called the king of Shinra "the dog of Japan," or it may point to some forgotten symbolism in the past, or typify the vassalage of Corea – so long a fundamental dogma in Japanese politics. It is certainly strange to see this creature, so highly honored in Fuyu and dishonored among the vulgar in Japan, placed beneath the mikado's throne."
FROM: Corea, the Hermit Nation, William Elliot Griffis, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1907