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Yesterday, I posted about Shang-Chi, which inspired a conversation with my friend, Tanya. All of this centered on the fact that there are tons of stories from mythologies beyond Western Europe that we don’t generally see in American art. Leave it to the MCU to take that step with Shang-Chi. Well, today is Caturday, so let’s go back to Shang-Chi.
Guardian Lions (Shishi)
Shang-Chi displayed a host of animals from Chinese legend. Two that stood out were guardian lions.
In a language I don’t speak, they’re called shishi. Needless to say, the west has its own term for them: foo dogs. Yeah, we named them after dogs. We can’t even put them in the right taxonomical suborder.
Shishi traditionally guard places as a single, mated pair, one male and female, with a connection to the concept of yin and yang. There were only two in Shang-Chi guarding Ta Lo, so it looks like the MCU did at least a little bit of homework. They’re said to have the power to ward against things as threatening as disease and evil spirits to things as mundane as crowds and shar corners. Their role in the battle of Ta Lo is also consistent with legend. There isn’t a lot they could have done beyond that, but it’s good to see that they’re staying close enough to the legends as you can expect from cinema. Close enough for government work. (That’s a dig against Tanya.) 🙂
You can see this as introducing American audiences to other cultures; I see it as proof cats rule the world.