Researching the etymology of Japanese 獅子 (shishi), I found that Gogen Allguide's entry here claims that this is derived from Sanskrit सिंह (siṁha). However, Unihan's entry for 獅 here shows a Tang-era reading of shri, making any phonetic derivation from siṃhá look a bit unlikely.
- Likely from Middle Persian. 獅 / 獅子 / 師 / 師子 was first mentioned in the Book of Han, in the description of the "specialties" of the 烏弋山離 country in the Western Regions. 烏弋山離 in Old Chinese had the pronunciation of /*ʔa lək sren raj/, so this referred to *Alexandria, likely "Alexandria Prophthasia", which was part of the Parthian Empire during the time of Han, speaking some Indo-Iranian language. 師 in Old Chinese was /*srij/, so Middle Persian šēr would be the closest.
- Unrelatedly, an earlier Chinese name for the lion (or something like it), as recorded in Erya, was 狻猊/狻麑 (/*sˁor ŋˁe/), looking quite similar to *šēr (probably only the first syllable meant "lion", the second syllable also meant "fawn"). Wyang (talk) 09:57, 4 March 2013 (UTC)