The lion seated on an oval base decorated with herringbone pattern, with a green and yellow spotted coat while the legs, the bushy tail and the curly mane are in bright blue enamel. The animal with a fierce expression, with closed mouth and perked tail, a small bell around the neck. The use of soft palette of blue, iron red, pale yellow, green and black overglaze enamels characterises Kakiemon porcelains. They were producted in Arita kilns since the 1660’s.
The lion (shishi in Japanese) doesn’t belong of Japanese indigenous fauna. This iconography comes from China, that’s why the lion is called karashishi (kara means “chinese” in Japanese). It is a fanciful lion also know as “Buddhist lion” or “Fo dog”, very liked by Japanese artists.
A similar model in Victoria and Albert Museum (n°C.7-1955)
SHIMIZU Christine, La porcelaine japonaise, p. 100 (a pair of lion dogs with similar stands in the collections of the Kyushu Museum of Ceramic.)
Porcelain for Palaces, pl. 146 (a karashishi with ormoulu mounts in the Residenzmuseum of Munich)
IMPEY Oliver, Japanese Export Porcelain – Catalogue of the collection of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, n° 185, p. 135 (a pair of shishi)