The ever loveable Chinese lions are very popular for celebrations and blessings for businesses and homes. The lion is said to bring luck and fortune to its host through the performance of ritualistic movements. A ‘green’ and a red packet of money, representing luck and fortune, is usually presented to the lion that is seen to ‘eat’ it and ‘spray’ it back to the host to represent the multiplication and showering of luck and fortune to the host.
Lion dancers will perform acrobatic jumps and movements that mimic a playful cat that is sure to entertain observers. Lions will interact with the crowd when offered red packets of money which represents the blessing of luck and fortune to the donors. Interaction can range from standing up tall to reach a high packet or drinking an offer of tea or wine in a ritualistic manner.
Make your next function fun and special by booking a performance by WACWs lion dance troupe. Our team has over a decade of experience and is sure to impress. Contact us today with your enquiry.
More about Lion Dance
Lion Dance embraces the beauty, art, culture, traditions, and history of China. It is a unique Chinese traditional art found in every Chinese community all over the world. The Chinese view the Lion as a spiritual animal that symbolises luck and prosperity.
Lion Dancing is a form of traditional dance in which performers mimic the Lion’s movements in a Lion costume. Gestures and movements that closely mimic the emotions of the mystical animal tells the story behind the performance. Emotions and expressions portrayed by the dancers include excitement, caution, curiosity, playful, anger, sleepiness, confusion, happiness, and sadness.
History of Lion Dance
The lion is traditionally regarded as a guardian creature in Chinese culture. According to legend, lion dance dates back about 2000 years in Chinese history and there are many versions as to how lion dance arrived. One popular theory was that unknown beasts terrorised a village in China every year at the eve of Chinese New Year. After awhile, the villagers were fed up with the beast thus they came together with an idea. The idea they have was to make a beast from paper mache and some noise making musical instrument like gongs, drums and cymbals to scare away the beast. Upon sight of the beast’s arrival, the villagers approached the beast with its paper mache “lion”, along with the beating of the drum and clanging of the cymbals and gong, were able to drive the beast away, never to be seen again. The event was celebrated with firecrackers and was held to be of great significance and it was believed to symbolise good luck, health and prosperity, driving away all bad and evil omens. This belief spread throughout China immediately, and lion dance has since then become a symbol of all things that are good, while driving away all bad omens.
Types of Lions
There are a variety of Chinese Lion Dance styles but in general they can be grouped into two main styles – northern and southern.
Northern Lion Dance has origins stemming from the northern parts of China where it was used as entertainment for the imperial court. The northern Lion is usually red, orange, and yellow in colour (sometimes with green fur or green bow for the female Lion), is shaggy in appearance, with a golden head. During performance it bounces around like a Pekinese Dog. The Northern Lion is accompanied by a warrior who holds a ball of ribbon. The warrior guides the Lion in its display of acrobatic stunt, such as flip, jump, roll or to play on a giant ball or giant seesaw. The Northern Lion Dance is usually performed in pairs, the Lion with the red bow is the male, and the green bow is the female.
The Southern Lion Dance is more symbolic in nature. 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 colours and has a distinctive head with large eyes, a mirror on the forehead, and a single horn at centre of the head. The Southern style can be further divided into Fo Shan (Buddha Mountain) & He Shan (Crane Mountain). The Fo Shan lion has a curved mouth, a pointed horn, and a long tail and is the style many Kung Fu school adapts. The He Shan style is more commonly known as a contemporary style. The He Shan lion has a straight mouth, a curved horn, and a short tail.
The Southern Lion Dance generally depicts a Lion stalking for a “green” (lettuce) along with a red packet containing money which express the gratitude for the blessing. This lucky green is offered by the people and is usually placed in a manner that the Lion must move about an obstacle in order to grab and eat it. Some of these obstacles require the Lion to climb, jump, or move about cautiously to check for traps and other ambushes to ensure a safe path to the lucky green. After plucking the green, the Lion regurgitate the greens back to the business or audience which signifies the showering of good luck.
Sometimes seen accompanying the Southern Lion is the “Happy Buddha”. The role of the “Buddha” is to taunt and to play with the Lions and guide the Lions in plucking green. The Buddha has a very large round head and is always in good spirits. His light-hearted character often acts foolish and silly, making him very likeable.