Ying Yang and Feng Shui

Alternative Medicine - TCM

The traditional Chinese Lion Dance has been performed for hundreds of years in China and recently around the world.

Behind the slick movements of the lions and loud drums is the spirit of a traditional Chinese culture that embodies martial arts, dance movements, Chinese culture and traditional Chinese music.

The traditional Chinese Lion Dance

The 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 of years.

The most common historical reference to Chinese Lion Dance is the story of Nian.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 on every first day of the Chinese New Year. One day, a Buddhist monk visited the village and witnessed the events 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'.

In 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, the village's best martial artists ran out with their 'monster', whilst the rest of the villagers rushed out banging their pots and pans, throwing their homemade firecrackers and waving home-made red flags and banners. Seeing this, Nian fled the village, scared for its life. From this day, the Chinese perform this dance to not only celebrate their besting of Nian, but also to ward off bad-spirits or, if Nian should return, scare it away.

Chinese 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 northern lion is usually red, orange, and yellow (sometimes with green fur for the female lion), 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 Lion Dance

The 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 luck and fortune. The southern lion exhibits a wide variety of colour and has a distinctive head with large eyes, a mirror on the forehead, and a single horn at center of the head.

The 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.

Watch 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 etc.

For 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 culture and demand.

In 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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