Title: Covered Jar

Date: ca. 1890
Culture: Satsuma-Style (Japan)
Material: Enameled porcelaneous stoneware
Size: 34” H x 14.5” W
Credit: Gift of Nathaniel and Lana Grey
On View: Yes

Shisha are a cross between a lion and a dog and serve as wards against evil spirits. These animals are a key part of Japanese mythology. However, they were most likely brought to Japan—via Okinawa—from China in the 14th century. 

These animals are often found in pairs and are used in a variety of decorative arts like this ceramic. Note the “handles” of the jar, which are made up of female (open-mouthed) and male (close-mouthed) shisha. Traditionally, the female shisha wards off evil spirits while closed-mouthed male shisha keeps good spirits in. This jar also has another shisha on the cover, with a ball or “pearl” of wisdom.