Mythological Dogs: Anubis, Gaueko, and Shisa

Updated on October 10, 2016
Antique Statuette of Anubis, the Ancient Egyptian God of Death
Antique Statuette of Anubis, the Ancient Egyptian God of Death | Source

Anubis

Anubis is the Greek name given to the ancient, Egyptian, jackal-headed god of the afterlife and mummification. It is said that he is the protector of the dead. His wife is the goddess Anput, and their daughter is the goddess called Kebechet. No funeral procession in ancient Egypt would have been complete without a marching Anubis leading the deceased to their final place of rest.

According to legend, Seth, brother of Osiris, lured Osiris into a coffin which he then threw into the River Nile, after sealing it shut. After the coffin washed up on the riverbed miles away, Isis retrieved her husband's (Osiris') body, and when this news reached Seth, he had his brother's remains cut into pieces and scattered to locations all over the Egyptian lands.

Both Isis and her sister Nephthys took on the form of kite birds and requested Anubis' help in finding her husband's scattered remains. Anubis agreed, and in his jackal form, was able to locate each body part except the phallus. Osiris' body was restored to its original state and Anubis carefully wrapped it in linen. For this reason, he is sometimes referred to as "He Who is in the Place of Embalming."

Gaueko

In Basque folklore, Gaueko is a huge, hulking wolfhound with fur as black as the night and is referred to as "the Lord of the Night." This dark beast sometimes walks upright. He is feared by shepherds as he is rumoured to eat them and their sheep. However, on particularly cold nights, these Shepherds may have an advance warning of Gaueko's approach, as his menacing howls can be heard echoing across the hills. In Basque, Gaueko is a literal translation of the phrase "of the night."

Despite his association with all things grim and sinister, Gaueko is a reasonable being. He considers the night to be his domain, and if he discovers a human out after sundown, he will advise them that they would be wise to return home via the shortest route possible. If the individual obeys, no harm will come to them, but if they do not heed Gaueko's warning and treat the night with contempt and disrespect, the mighty being will punish them severely.

The Gaueko disguises itself as a shaggy, wolf-like dog. No-one knows what its true form is.
The Gaueko disguises itself as a shaggy, wolf-like dog. No-one knows what its true form is. | Source
An open-mouthed Shisa who is either a female sharing its owner's good fortune with others, or a male roaring to scare off any passing evil spirits.
An open-mouthed Shisa who is either a female sharing its owner's good fortune with others, or a male roaring to scare off any passing evil spirits. | Source

Shisa

Shisa are gargoyle-like decorations hailing from Okinawan mythology. They are best described as beasts resembling a cross between a dog and a lion. People position pairs of these creatures flanking the gates to their homes or on their rooftops, as it is believed that they protect the occupants from evil spirits or entities. The Shisa on the left will always have a closed mouth, while the one on the right will have its mouth open. The open mouth frightens away any near-by demons or malicious spirits, while the closed mouth keeps benevolent entities in the house and grounds.

In the Japanese mainland, similar pairs of monstrous critters can be spotted adorning front walks and gateways, now-a-days. They are now known simply as "guardian dogs," whereas they were once referred to as "shisa and guardian dogs." The right, open-mouthed canine is a guardian, and the left, close-mouthed creature is a shisa.

Sometimes people assign genders to shisa - various Okinawans believe that the male has a closed mouth to keep bad out of its owner's home, and the female's open mouth symbolises the idea that it is sharing the good within the dwelling it is guarding. Others disagree, and think that the female has a closed mouth as it is keeping the good entities from escaping, while the male's mouth is open in a threatening stance to scare off bad spirits.

These beasts make numerous appearances in Chinese folklore: In one legend, a young boy is presented with a Shisa as a gift from an Okinawan nobleman. The child senses a mystical power within the inanimate object, and so he takes excellent care of his gift. Then one day, a dragon storms into the small boy's village and begins to wreak havoc, but the Shisa repays the boy's care and kindness by coming to life and defeating the dragon before it can harm any of the villagers.

In another Okinawan tale, the canine-like creature was brought to Okinawa many, many years ago as a gift that was to be given to a Ryukyuan king. It gained a reputation as the protector of the people of Madanbashi, guarding them from a fearsome dragon that prowled Naha Bay. The king and his people became tired of living in fear of this terrible dragon, and he asked his Shisa to confront it. The mighty dragon scoffed at the Shisa, which was an impressive specimen, but was much too small to present any real threat. Angered, the Shisa roared so loudly that it caused a great rock to tumble from the sky and land on top of the dragon. It is said that this rock is an island that we know today as Ganna-Mui.

A beautiful pair of Shisa.  Notice the guardian dog on the left has a closed mouth, while the one on the right has it's mouth open. Tradition states that this is how Shisa should be positioned.
A beautiful pair of Shisa. Notice the guardian dog on the left has a closed mouth, while the one on the right has it's mouth open. Tradition states that this is how Shisa should be positioned. | Source

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • VendettaVixen profile imageAUTHOR

        VendettaVixen 

        6 years ago from Ireland

        @Gogogo

        I'm always so pleased to hear that a hubber as experienced as yourself finds one of my hubs entertaining and fun. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this one.

        Stay well~

      • VendettaVixen profile imageAUTHOR

        VendettaVixen 

        6 years ago from Ireland

        @Phoebe Pike

        That's just what I love to hear. I'm so glad you considered my work enjoyable and informative.

        Thank you very much for the lovely comment and for taking the time to stop by and read my hub in the first place.

        Have an excellent day

        -Vixen

      • VendettaVixen profile imageAUTHOR

        VendettaVixen 

        6 years ago from Ireland

        @Ana Teixeira

        I'm a dog person myself, but Anubis has always facinated me, too. He looks like one mean dude, but apparently he's portrayed as a peaceful, caring god. So long as you don't bother the dead, that is.

        Thanks very much for your comment - it's very much appreciated.

      • profile image

        gogogo 

        6 years ago

        Very interesting, I like reading about mythology, voted up and interesting

      • profile image

        Phoebe Pike 

        6 years ago

        Fascinating hub, informative and a good read. Two thumbs up!

      • Ana Teixeira profile image

        Ana Teixeira 

        6 years ago from Oporto, Porto, Portugal

        I decided to comment simply because althoug I'm afraid of dogs.. Anubis was always my favourite dog and I love the mythology.. keep hubbing! Voting up!

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, exemplore.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://exemplore.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)