Komainu (狛犬 or 高麗犬 lit. "Guardian Dog" or "Goryeo Dog" ), also known as "Lion-Dogs" in English, are noble holy animals that are usually employed as guardians of holy areas like shrines and temples to ward off evil spirits. They're usually carved in two positions: One of them with their mouth open and the other with their mouth closed. Symbolically, they represent yin and yang, or life and death.
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- Wikipedia entry for Komainu
- Goryeo or Goguryeo was a Korean kingdom and active participant in the power struggle for control of the Korean peninsula, it was also associated with the foreign affairs of neighboring polities in China and Japan. Originally, Komainu were Chinese and then went transmitted from China through Korea into Japan. So the name Komainu (狛犬 or 高麗犬) actually means Korean Dog.