A Pair of 19th c. Carved Chinese Imperial Guardian Lions. Parcel gilt over red lacquer. They are a large, impressive pair, ready to stand guard in their new home. Each measures 15"x6"x8". Weight 10 pds. PROVENANCE: A Pawleys Island, SC Private Estate. Known as Shishi or pinyin are literally, Chinese Imperial guardian lions, and often incorrectly called Foo Dogs in the West. The Shishi are a common representation of the lion in pre-modern China, and have traditionally stood before Chinese Imperial palaces, Imperial tombs, government offices, temples, and the homes of government officials and the wealthy. The earliest manifestations of this Guardian form appeared in the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220), and were believed to have powerful mythic protective qualities. Pairs of guardian lions are still common worldwide decorative and symbolic elements at the entrances to restaurants, hotels, supermarkets and other structures, with one sitting on each side of the entrance.