This is my illustrated version of the closed mouth shisa, blocking evil spirits in the new year.
Shisa dogs are traditional Ryukyuan guardians, a cross between a lion and a dog, seen everywhere in Okinawa. They’re found in pairs, usually guarding doorways, gates and rooftops from evil spirits. They’re a variation of the guardian lions of China and first brought to the island in the 15th century.
The one on the left always has a closed mouth and the one on the right always with an open mouth. It’s believed that one is male, one female, but there’s always debate on which is which.
Some believe the open mouth shisa is the male, scaring away evil spirits, and the closed mouth shisa is the female preserving calm. Others believe the closed mouth shisa is the male keeping evil out, and the female is open mouthed, spreading positivity and inviting good spirits.
Season of Victory / Linda Baritski
printed on Giclée Hahnemühle Bamboo