The Original Lions

Step through  the front doors of Hamilton Library at the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus, and there they are: the original two lion statues that once sat guard on cement pedestals in front of the Wakamiya Inari Shrine in Mo`ili`ili. These guardian lions — typically found in pairs, a male and female and sometimes referred to as “foo dogs” — are also found in other Asian cultures and can often be seen in Chinatowns, temples, palaces and other sites of interest. Although these lions in Hamilton Library once had to weather the elements, they now are now safely protected indoors for all to enjoy who enter the library. Note that the lions are not mirror images of each other. The one on the left has its mouth open, with what is probably supposed to be a symbol of a pearl in its mouth. The other lion on the right has its mouth closed. The lion on the left is likely the male lion, with its mouth open to scare away evil from coming indoors. The female lion on the right keeps good from leaving, protecting those inside. Admittedly there may be other interpretations.


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