Komainu strongly resemble Chinese guardian lions and in fact originate from Tang dynasty China. The Chinese guardian lions are believed to have been influenced by lion pelts and lion depictions introduced through trade from either the Middle East or India, countries where the lion existed and was a symbol of strength. During its transportation along the Silkroad, however, the symbol changed, acquiring a distinctive look. The first lion statue in India appears around the 3rd century BC on top of a column erected by King Ashoka. The tradition later arrived in China where it developed into the guardian lion that was later exported to Korea, Japan, and Okinawa.During the Nara period (710–794), as in the rest of Asia, the pair always consisted of two lions. Used only indoors until the 14th century, they were made mainly of wood. During the Heian period (794–1185), for example, wooden or metal pairs were employed as weights and door-stops, while at the Imperial Palace they were used to support screens or folding screens.