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2018 / 2019

Foo Dog and Peonies Tattoo

Style: Japanese
STUDY: Katattoomba
A Coruña, Galicia
Shi shi Tattoo - Foo Dog - Fu Dog Tattoo - Japanese Traditional - Irezumi Galicia

Carried out in Katattoomba, A Coruña - Galicia between 2018 and 2019.

This is Nick and asked me for a shishi, better known as a foo dog, fu dog or Chinese lion. He wanted it as a large piece on the outside of the arm and intended to eventually complete the entire arm focusing on this theme.

Nicolas Duggan fudog shishi 99 1 Tatuaje Foo Dog y Peonías - foo dog
Tatuaje Shi shi - Foo Dog - Fu Dog Tattoo - Japonés Tradicional - Irezumi Galicia

What is a shishi?

Shishi either jishi is a mythological animal which has its origin in the Buddhist tradition. Also known as Fu lion, Fu dog, foo dog, lion dog, lion dog, Fu lion, Fu lion. BuddhaChinese lion, etc.

It is said to have protective powers and to ward off evil spirits, bad energies and bad people.

Its most common representation probably in the form of stone sculpture and in pairs, guarding the entrance of temples Buddhists in various Asian countries with Buddhist culture, and in Japan also in Shinto temples.

Perhaps this creature is not so well known in the West, but it is quite popular in the East and there is much to tell and see about the mighty shishi.


I will tell more about these beings in the Japanese tattoo icons session shortly.

Foo Dog Tattoo Process

We started this tattoo in 2018when we have made the shishi on the outside of the arm right. It is a large piece, on a large arm. It has been a little more than 8 hours distributed in 3 sessions.

Nick was living in Denmark at the time and took advantage of a summer in Coruña to make this piece. We have left the polka dots of the lion dog empty, to have the option to fill them in the future, when we finish the arm. This way we could combine colors with the elements that would be added later.

In 2019, Nick is back a Katattoomba to finish the entire bottom of the arm.
So he had, apart from the lion's share of Buddha
on the outside of the arm, a couple more tattoos on the inside.

The proposal was to fill in the entire free space with gaku formed by land and air, through the representation of the rocks, peonies, clouds and wind.

Fu dog Tattoo - shi shi - Foo Dog Tattoo - Color Tattoo - Chinese Dog - Irezumi - Galicia

The peony is the ideal secondary element for the foo dog, according to Japanese tradition.

This combination of Chinese lions and peonies is known as karashishi-botan. and is so common in the irezumias in the engravings and paintings of Asia, in different countries and periods.

Found in the union of these two elements the harmony between the strength of the king of the beaststhe shishi, and the softness of the queen of flowerspeony (botan, in Japanese).

We were short on time, as Nick had to return to Denmark. Because of this, we have done something not recommended: two long sessions with a short interval between them.. Unfortunately, this is what happens in these situations, when the client comes from far away and stays only a few days in the city.

We tattooed what was left of the arm in just over 10 hours: 5 and a half hours in the first session and after two days another 5 hours.

Nick is healthy, has good pain tolerance and a great ability to concentrate, which is why it has been possible to do such long sessions.

Still it is a great effort for the body to heal so much skin and in the end it did not heal well.. Some thick crust was formed and it was necessary to put a little more ink in some parts that had lost pigment when the scab fell off.

We already knew that this was most likely to happen, but We decided to advance as much as we could and review it on our next trip to Coruña.

Integration of old tattoos - Fu Dog - Foo Dog Full arm tattoo Japanese traditional - Shi shi Tattoo

A tattoo full sleeve for an arm with antique tattoos

As I said before, this client already had two old tattoos on the inside of his arm: a dagger on the forearm and two lotus flowers accompanied by a phrase on the biceps. Subsequently, he wanted to tattoo a complete Japanese tattoo sleeve.

In this case, I have first of all fitted the shishi, which is the main element on the outside of the arm, so that it has the proper prominence in the composition.

Always I take into consideration the way the tattooed person is dressed in order to place the parts of the drawing that need to be in view so that the piece can be well identified.. Nick mostly wears short-sleeved T-shirts, so I didn't want to put the lion's head of the lion on the back of the T-shirt. Buddha on the upper arm, since in the end it would always be covered by clothing.

I have placed the lion dog going down the arm, with its head on the front, just above the elbow joint, with one of the legs going down the forearm accompanied by a peony. Thus, although he is wearing a T-shirt, it can be perfectly appreciated. that what he wears on his arm is a karashishi-botan, that is, a combination of Fu Dog with peonies.

To better fit the elements of the gaku inside the arm, I did it by drawing directly on the skin. Thus, I could focus on distribute the elements well and that they do not step on each other.

Always I try not to increase the color gamut too much that the client already has on the part of the body that I have to tattoo. As Nick already had two blue lotuses in the biceps, I chose to paint the peonies blue.

I prefer to work by repeating a few colors rather than using too many, I think it looks sober, elegant yet powerful. I have also taken into consideration the client's skin tone, hair and eyes. 

I think I've managed to integrate the old tattoos well with the Japanese manga. I think it all looks very nice together, without some standing out more than others.



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