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Okinawan Studies: Shisa (Lion-Dogs): Shisa

Information about Shisa statues presented by the University of the Ryukyus to the University of Hawaii at Manoa

Shisa Statues are here @UHM

shisa un  shisa a

The Shisa with a Maile lei on June 29, 2012. Photos by Dr. Andrew B. Wertheimer, LIS Program

The University of the Ryukyus presented UHM with a pair of Shisa (Lion Dog) statues to commemorate the establishment of the Center for Okinawan Studies. On June 29, 2012, the Shisa statues were officially received by the UHM Chancellor. They will stand guard over the UHM campus and will attract good spirits and ward off bad spirits.

The statues were designed by Professor Emeritus Sadao Nishimura of the University of the Ryukyus.

shisa size full

The image of the Shisa before Bronze Molding.

Shisa on the left has its mouth closed. A closed mouth symbolizes a sound "un (吽)"

Shisa's hight: 108 cm (42.5 inch)

Shisa's width: 44 cm (17.3 inch)

Shisa's depth: 73 cm (28.7 inch)

shisa size front The Shisa on the right has its mouth open. An open mouth also symbolizes a sound "a (阿)"

right un right side (阿) "a"

left left side (吽) "un"

阿吽 (a-un) means "harmonizing"

The calligraphy on the base reads "知の津梁 (Chi no shinryo)," meaning "Bridge of knowledge" written by Prof. Hajime Oshiro of the University of the Ryukyus.

On their visit to Okinawa in 2011, President Teruo Iwamasa presented a replica of the Shisa statues to the Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie and UH President Greenwood.

Library Resources on Shisa

The legends of the Ryukyu p. 7 "The Kara-Shishi and the Dragon."

Legends of Okinawa p. 11 "The monster and the lion-dog."

The Lion-dog of Buddhist Asia a story of lion-dog throughout Aisa, a photo on p. 41

Dogs: History, Myth, Art p. 72 "Myths and monsters"

The History and culture of Okinawa p. 57 "Stone lions: Guardians of the village"

50-nen mae no Okinawa: Shashin de miru ushinawareta bunkazai (50年前の沖縄:写真でみる失われた文化財) An exhibit catalog of Yoshitaro Kamakura's photos. Kamakura took many pictures including the Shisa statues at the Shuri Castle, before WWII. All were destroyed during the Battle of Okinawa. Two rare photos of the Shuri Castle Shisa on p. 7.

Profile of Okinawa: 100 questions and answers p. 147 "What the significance of ishigato and shisa?"

Sugu wakaru Okinawa no bijutsu すぐわかる沖縄の美術 (in Japanese) p. 126 "Okinawa no shisa 沖縄のシーサー"

Zuroku Okinawa no kogei 図録 沖縄の工藝 (in Japanese) p. 117 (in English & Japanese) A photo and a capition about a shisa on a roof

Shisa: Fushigina shisa (ふしぎなシーサー) A children's book about Shisa written by Susan Albright (in English & Japanese)

The Art of Okinawa 沖縄美術全集 volume 1, Plate 122 & Plate 130, Descriptions p. 243, and p. 247

Shisa travelogue 沖縄シーサー紀行 (in English & Japanese) DVD. All about Shisa. Documented are shisas found in villages and cities in the Ryukyus.

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