Dvarapalas (temple lions)
traditionally stand guard outside the gates of shrines, Buddhist temples
and porticos of homes. In Japan, they are referred to as Shishi
(or Jishi) and can also refer to a deer or dog with magical properties
and the power to repel evil spirits. In China they are referred to as
Foo Dogs and are traditionally depicted in pairs. In Thailand they are
referred to as Singha, the true king of the forest. His roar echoes to
great distances, terrifying all forest animals, great and small, and
stand at the entrance of Thai temples, guarding the sacred Buddhist
teachings. In Indonesia and Cambodia they are referred to as 'Dvarapalas'
and are generally armed with lances and clubs and can often times have a
bulky physique, while the Dvarapalas in Thailand are leaner and are
portrayed in standing straight position holding the club downward in the
center. Dvarapala sculpture in Thailand is made of a high-fired stoneware clay covered
with a pale, almost milky glaze known as celadon. Ceramic
sculptures of this type were produced
during the Sukhothai and Ayutthaya
periods, between the 14th and 16th centuries. This is process still exist
today and the pieces are produced at several kiln complexes
located in northern
Thailand. The main function of Dvarapalas is to protect the temples.
Dvarapalas in Cambodia may be seen, for example, at various temples in
and around Angkor Wat.
Cambodian Temple Dvarapala in Semi-Kneeling Position