Straw dogs (simplified Chinese: 刍狗; traditional Chinese: 芻狗; pinyin: chú gǒu), a figure of a dog made out of straw, were used as ceremonial objects in ancient China, but often thrown away after their usage.
In one translation Chapter 5 of the Tao Te Ching begins with the lines "Heaven and Earth are heartless / treating creatures like straw dogs".
Su Zhe's commentary on this verse explains: "Heaven and Earth are not partial. They do not kill living things out of cruelty or give them birth out of kindness. We do the same when we make straw dogs to use in sacrifices. We dress them up and put them on the altar, but not because we love them. And when the ceremony is over, we throw them into the street, but not because we hate them."
- The 1971 film Straw Dogs draws its title from the Tao Te Ching.
- The band Something Corporate has a song titled "Straw Dog" on their 2002 album Leaving Through the Window. It includes the line "Hey, now, the straw dog's out in the street."
- Professor John N. Gray's book of trenchant essays is titled Straw Dogs (John Gray, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals, Granta Books 2002, ISBN 1-86207-512-3)
- Guided by Voices song "Strawdogs"
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