lion dance originated in China close to a thousand years ago.
The lion is traditionally regarded as a guardian creature associated
with good luck, blessings and auspicious occasions. It is featured
in Buddhist lore as well as local Chinese folklore for thousands
most common historical reference to Chinese Lion Dance is
the story of Nian. According to legend,
a monster, by the name of Nian, was
terrorizing villages; eating the livestock, crops and villagers
first day of the Chinese New Year. One day, a Buddhist monk visited
the village and witnessed the
that had taken place. To rid the villagers of this monster, the
monk instructed the villagers to get their best martial artists
and build their own lion-like 'monster'.
addition to this, the monk instructed the villagers to fill bamboo
shoots with gunpowder
and to cover
the village in red decorations. The following year, when Nian came back,
best martial artists ran out with their 'monster', whilst the
rest of the villagers rushed out banging their pots and
their homemade firecrackers and waving home-made red flags
and banners. Seeing this, Nian fled the village, scared for its
dance to not only celebrate their besting of Nian, but
also to ward off
bad-spirits or, if Nian should return, scare it away.
lion dances can be broadly categorised into two styles, Northern
and Southern. Northern dance was used as
entertainment for the imperial court and as it's name
suggest, is more popular in the Northern parts of China. The
lion is usually red, orange, and yellow (sometimes with green
shaggy in appearance, with a golden head. The northern
dance is acrobatic
and is mainly performed as entertainment. Lion lion dance
is often performed by two people but it is not uncommon to find
smaller lions performed by just one performer.
Northern Chinese Lion performing in a wedding ceremony
The Southern dance is a more popular lion dance because it's
movement is much more elegant, acrobatic and entertaining.
It is usually performed as a ceremony to exorcise evil spirits
and to summon
lion exhibits a wide variety of colour and has a distinctive
head with large eyes, a mirror on the forehead, and a single
center of the head.
Southern Lion Dance is always performed by two performers and
often in pairs of two lions. Due to the higher physical demands
of the Southern Lion Dance, it is required that the performers
have some martial arts background.
as the sleepy lion wakes from it's sleep to become a playful
and acrobatic lion
The Lion dance is always accompanied by drums, gongs and cymbals
that slows or speed up as the lion so dance. Lion dance are
in popular demand during auspicious periods such as Chinese
New Year, opening of new business, moving into a new residence
a period of time, lion dance was losing popularity due to
it's association with gangsterism and rogue martial arts
schools. However, many Chinese societies has seen lion dancing
as an important element of Chinese culture and decided to
promote the art aggressively, and of late, the art of lion
dancing is back in mainstream Chinese
fact, Chinese Lion Dance is so popular and widespread now
that there is a world lion dance championship held in Genting,
Malaysia every two years.
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