Lion Dance

      Lion dance is a form of traditional dance in Chinese culture. Lion dance performers mimic a lion's movements in a lion costume. These dance fundamental movements can be found in most Chinese basic martial arts.

   History

      Once upon a monk, a Buddhist monk had a nightmare where sorrows and evils plaguing the land. He prayed to Buddha so that such suffering will not occur. He was told that a lion would protect him and his people from the evils. However, the Chinese only heard about the lion has the king of all animals but had never seen a lion before. Thus, the monk combined all the lucky or magical animals to create his own lion.

      Lion dances can be broadly categorized into three styles, Chinese Northern, Chinese Southern, and Taiwanese. The Chinese Northern dance was used as entertainment for the imperial court and elsewhere. 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 may include dangerous stunts.

      The Chinese Southern lion dance is usually performed as a ceremony to scare away evil spirits and to bring good luck and fortune. The Chinese southern lion exhibits a wide variety of colors and has a distinctive head with large eyes (of an eagle), a mirror on the forehead (demons are supposedly scared of their own reflection), and a single horn at center of the head (the horn of a unicorn mentioned earlier). Lion dance costumes are traditionally blessed before usage.

      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.

      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.


   
    Southern Lions

   
    Taiwanese/Fukian/Hokkien Lions

   
    Northern Lions

   
    Northern Lions

   The Northern Lions

      Northern Lion dances are usually performed in a pair. Northern lions have shaggy orange and yellow hair with a red bow on its head to indicate a male lion, or a green bow to represent a female. Other different bow colors may be used.

      The "Homeland of the Lion Dance" for the northern variety located in Ninghai in Ningbo, China.


   
    Red & gold fur Futsan Lion

   
    Orange Fur Hoksan with Yellow Horn and Nose
Fok Hok Lions

   The Southern Lions

      The Chinese Southern Lion dance originated from Guangdong, China. The Guangdong's or Cantonese style can be further divided into Fut San (Buddha Mountain), Hok san (Crane Style), Fut-Hok (minor style that exhibits a hybrid of Fut San and Hok San), Jow Ga (minor style performed by practitioners of Jow family style kung fu, exampled by the Wong People), and the Green Lion (Qing1 Shi1 - popular with the Fukien/Hokkien and Taiwanese).


   Taiwanese/ Fukian/Hokkien Lions

      Taiwanese lion heads have large eyes, a horn, colorful and a mirror on their forehead. Taiwanese lion is less elaborate and usually can't move its eyes and mouth. However, the Taiwanese dance also integrates with martial arts in their dance steps. The Taiwanese lion dance also uses different musical instruments and tempo.


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