Stroy6

6. Sapsarees and Gomainu

Among wooden and stone animal statues that can be commonly seen in Japanese royal houses or shrines, one can find statues of Gomainu (Koryo Dogs or Lion Dogs). The image of a long haired Gomainu, resembling a mythical beast, Haetae, appears on both sides of the front gate of the National Museum of Korea. The Gomainus, which were placed in front of shrines, have been widely appraised by the Japanese for its ability to drive away misfortune. It has been told in the Japanese document that the long-haired Lion dog that was believed to drive away ghosts during the Three Han Period is actually the Gomainu. Since the Koryo Dynasty united with the Baek (White) Dynasty, it is a reasonable explanation that the Gomainu dog, which was brought by the Koryo family, began to be called "white dog."

The stone statues and wooden statues of Gomainu that exist today have diverse forms. They appear to be similar to the Seoksajasang (a stone lion statue), which can be seen from the Dabotap (a Korean Pagoda) of Bulguksa, and the Haetae of Kyungbok Palace. Many other forms can be found as well. Depending on the place and time, many forms and shapes have evolved, as some even have one horn attached to the head. It is also recorded that a lion statue and "white dog" were erected to face each other in the sides of the front of Jajinjeon's Seungmyung-moon in the Japanese emperor's royal city. The two statues were altogether nicknamed "Lion White Dog." It is likely that the people believed that having both lion statue and white dog can effectively repel misfortune. Since the Pyeongan-jo, two statues of lion and white dog or two statues of a male and female White dogs were frequently placed facing each other in front of the front gate. The tradition of placing the white dogs in both sides of the front gate became widespread all over Japan. The Gomainus, which were placed in front of the Japanese royal houses and shrines to drive away misfortune, were no other but Sapsarees, also known as Lion dogs.

TOP