“Guardian lions are referred to in various ways depending on language and context. In Chinese they are traditionally called simply shi (獅, Pinyin: shī) meaning lion — the word shi itself is thought to be derived from the Persian word šer. Lions were first presented to the Han court by emissaries from Central Asia and Persia, and by the sixth century AD they were already popularly depicted as guardian figures. Today the guardian lions are more usually specified by reference to the medium or material, for example:
Stone lion (石獅, Pinyin: Shíshī): for a stone sculpture; or
Bronze lion (銅獅, Pinyin: Tóngshī): for a bronze sculpture
and less commonly:
Auspicious lion (瑞獅, Pinyin: Ruìshī): referring to the Tibetan Snow Lion or good fortune
Fortuitous lion (福獅, Pinyin: fúshī): referring to good fortune
Buddha’s or Buddhist lion (佛獅, Pinyin: fóshī): referring in a religious context to the lion as protector of Buddha.”
*Taken from Wikipedia.