Guardian Lion-Dogs, Japan, Kamakura period (1185–1333), mid-13th century. Japanese cypress with lacquer, gold leaf, and color. a: H. 16 3/4 in. (42.5 cm); b: H. 18 in. (45.7 cm). Mary Griggs Burke Collection, Gift of the Mary and Jackson Burke Foundation, 2015; 2015.300.257a, b © 2000–2016 The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Pairs of lion-dogs (komainu), featuring leonine heads on canine bodies, are traditionally placed before the entrance of Shinto shrines to ward off evil. The figure on the right is distinguished by its open mouth (a gyō), while the figure on the left bears a closed mouth (un gyō). These features may echo the open- and closed-mouth iconography of niō, the pair of guardian deities who protect Buddhist temples.