The word “Pu Shou” first appeared in the Han Dynasty, in memory of Emperor Ai, the history of Han Dynasty (汉书), volume 11: “the bronze tortoises, snakes and the beast-faced door knockers at the entrance of the Xiaoyuan Temple wailed in mourning together .” What is a Pu Shou? According to Wang Xiaoqing, “Chinese Ancient Architectural Terminology Dictionary”: Pu Shou is a decorative handle pull on the door. It is named because it was laid in the shape of a beast’s head .”
Jiao Tu is the ninth son of the dragon in ancient Chinese myths and legends. The Jiao Tu door knocker first appeared in the late yuan and early Ming Dynasty . “The shape of the Jiao Tu looks like a snail, which nature is to keep its mouth shut, so it stands on the door , see Figure 2.”
The figure 1 shows a Pu Shou with its ring pull. Its Jiao Tu’s appearance is more like the face of a lion with the characteristics of a snail: its nose triple-lobed, flat and wide; eyes prominent like those of a lion; snail-shell shaped eyebrows look like flames, or the distorted lion’s hair; horns U-shaped. There is a round lid-like structure between two horns. What is this, no relevant information was found.
The Pu Shou of Han Dynasty usually has a “山” pattern (Figure 3, after Yang Guiping, On the ancient Chinese Pu Shou). This pattern is derived from the abstraction of the 山-shaped tall crown worn by ancient wizards . Let’s look at the Pu Shou of the Gate of Yongshou Palace again, the two horns and the central “round lid” structure plus an arrow above it form a “山”-shaped pattern. It seems that the evolution of the Pu Shou is traceable. As for the meaning of the “round lid” structure, it is presumed to be the operculum of the snail shell, or called the shell lid. If you look closely at Figure 1, you can find a concave pattern at the front of the “round lid” structure, like a half-opening operculum. This view has not been supported by written materials, only for personal “joking” speculation.