Sisha Symbolism & Meaning
Shisa, also called Shisa Lion and in some references, Komainu, are actually a mix of Dog and Lion. They are also usually depicted in pairs. The Shisa is native to lore in what was once an independent Island Kingdom of Okinawa, before Okinawa was part of Japan. This is why the Shisa, referred to by this name and not Komainu, is associated specifically with Okinawa and not the rest of Japan.
Although the creatures are depicted with the bodies of a Dog and mane of a Lion, they are still referred to as Shisa Lions. It is believed the concept for this figure came from similar statues and icons from China, where the pair of protective Lions are referred to as Shishi. Their exact date of origin as an important symbol of protection in Okinawa is unclear, yet it is estimated to have occurred prior to the 1870s.
Sisha Table of Contents
- Sisha Symbolism & Meaning
- Spirit Animal
- Totem Animal
- Power Animal
- Sisha Dreams
- Back to all Fantasy & Mythical Creatures and Animals
Sisha Symbolism & Meaning
The symbolism of Shisa Lion is similar to that of the Gargoyle. They are usually found in pairs, guarding doorways and other important places. It is believed that the pairs are significant as depictions of masculine and feminine. Some believe the male Shisa is portrayed with mouth open, to scare away evil spirits. The female Shisa, by contrast, is depicted with her mouth closed, to preserve positivity.
Others reverse the genders suggesting it is the female Shisa whose mouth is open to repel negativity and the male whose mouth is closed to keep the good from escaping.
The overall symbolism is that the process of protection is not just about playing offense, but also requires a good defense. The Shisa Lion represents the importance of balancing protective energy and positive energy in a cycle that continually preserves what is good while repelling what one considers bad.
This is similar to the notion of focusing your intention to attract more of what you want while also using your power to banish or clear negative energies or distractions that keep you from making progress toward your goals. The Shisa appearing in pairs also speaks to duality within the individual. This can be duality in terms of masculine and feminine energy, but also the duality of one person being both protective and fierce and also passive and jovial, depending on circumstances.
Though the Shisa is portrayed in pairs, the origin myths of the Shisa Lion involve one creature. There are two main versions of the story. In one, a young boy is given the gift of a Shisa Lion. Later, while his village is being menaced by a Dragon, the boy seeks protection from his Shisa statue which then turns into a live creature and defeats the Dragon.
In the second variation, it is not a young boy but a Ryukyuan King who receives the Shisa Lion statue as a gift. The statue comes to life when the people of Madanbashi are threatened by a Dragon and saves the village.
Both accounts describe the Shisa as coming to life during a time of need and also defeating Dragons, so Shisa symbolism is tied to Dragon symbolism in this way. It is worth noting that Dragon in Japanese culture is prevalent and often represents abundance and success. It is interesting to note that this creature is also a figure representing destruction and from whom people need protection, in specific myths.
Shisa Lion is often portrayed with one paw resting on top of a golden ball. This is symbolic of the Shisa’s role in generating and holding onto good luck and positive energy, wealth and abundance.
Shisa Lion can also symbolize the importance of collaboration in pairs. This also relates to the power of the number two in numerology, or duality, cooperation, balance, love, harmony and relationships.
The Shisa Lion can thus be associated with the signs of the Zodiac that represent such duality, namely Pisces, Gemini and even Libra. Pisces and Gemini are the two Zodiac signs represented by two figures or two beings, and symbolic of dualistic internal drives. Pisces involves the two Fish, often swimming in opposite directions. Gemini, as the Twins, represents the dual nature of humans. Libra, though the sign of the Scales and not two beings, represents the importance of balancing polarizing forces within yourself.
This is also emblematic of the Shisa Lion’s nature as a protective duo who represent the need to draw on polar opposite energies to accomplish your goals. As a creature resembling the Lion, they are connected to the sign Leo, keep in mind that Leo is the sign of the individual whereas Shisa Lion is known for their appearance in pairs.
Another specific facet of Shisa figurines as compared to their closely linked cousins, the Komainu, is that the Komainu are guardians of Shinto temples and places of high status in society. The Shisa Lions are instead found in everyday settings. Thus Shisa Lions symbolize protective guardians within the homes of everyday people.
Colors associated with the Shisa Lions can vary as their images have been adapted in mainstream culture over time. Some associate these creatures with gold, red or orange. Thus the Shisa Lion is associated with good fortune, luck and prosperity.
Sisha Spirit Animal
When Shisa Spirit Animal is working with you, you may be called to find the balance between your assertive and defensive nature and your optimistic side. This can be an important time of prosperity and abundance if you can take the good with the bad and make the most of a situation you are in.
Shisa Spirit Animal may be encouraging you to buddy up for success rather than trying to do everything on your own. When Shisa Lion Spirit Animal is working with you, lessons involving duality are coming to the surface. You may have much to be grateful for and if so, Shisa can work with you to look on the bright side.
At the same time, you may have to speak up for yourself in more pointed ways and if this is the case, Shisa can help you speak your truth and cut through distractions and negativity that could steer you off course.
Sisha Totem Animal
Those born with Shisa as a Totem Animal have strong protective and intuitive instincts. If Shisa is your Totem Animal, you may have the power to intervene, but also the wisdom to know when to step in and when to hold back. Shisa Totem Animal gives you the insight to hold back and let people solve their problems without micromanaging, but also gives you the intuitive sense of when your protective measures are really needed.
As a guardian of doorways, Shisa Totem Animal can give you the energy of a gatekeeper or guardian. You may be a highly responsible person yet balance and harmony are also important to you.
Shisa Totem Animal gives you a gift of perspective, you know how to enjoy the pleasantries in life without forgetting the need to be wary and cautious of dangerous situations. You can be on alert to both danger but also opportunities for prosperity and success.
Sisha Power Animal
Sometimes you may need to call on the protective guardian powers of Shisa. Connecting with Shisa Power Animal can be as simple as including Shisa statuary on your altar or connecting with Shisa through your meditation or ritual.
Shisa, according to lore, resembles a Power Animal by their very nature. The story of Shisa Lion statues or figures coming to life when summoned makes this creature an easy Power Animal to work with. Symbolically, Shisa Power Animal represents the ability to summon your own courage while not sacrificing your joyful and optimistic side.
When Shisa Lion comes to you in a dream, it can be a portend of good fortune and success on the horizon. A Shisa Lion is not only a protector but also a signal of good luck and prosperity.
Shisa Lions coming to you in a dream may signal that you need to be more protective of your home or clear the energy in your space, repelling the bad and inviting the new and more positive.
Sisha Symbolic Meanings Key
- Positive Energy