Chinese Lion Dance

of reading - words

1) The Lion Dance Symbol
2) The Lion's Dance Costumes
3) Lion Dance Styles in China
-A) The Northern Lion Dance
-B) The South Lion Dance
4) The origin and history of the lion dance
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Wait a minute! Wait a minute! The Chinese "dragon" dance you just saw and shared online is probably not a dragon at all, it's a lion. Don't panic: you're not alone. Even Western television hosts and the media often confuse the two!

These two traditions go back more than a thousand years, but spectators often confuse the lion with the dragon. Asian lion dancing is a Chinese tradition performed on special occasions, such as the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year).

Chinese lion dance costume

1) The Lion Dance Symbol
In Chinese culture, the lion represents wisdom, power and superiority. This dance is practiced in order to bring good fortune and to drive away evil spirits. This is one of the major traditions of the Chinese New Year and is also a way to bring joy and good humour.

Performed in lion costume, accompanied by the music of beating drums, banging cymbals and resonating gongs, the lion's dances imitate the lion's various movements or demonstrate the agility of martial arts, depending on the style.

Chinese New Year celebration

2) The Lion's Dance Costumes
Two acrobats dressed in a lion costume perform the dance comparable to a pantomime horse. The place of the dancers plays a crucial role in the behaviour, the one at the front becomes the head and forelegs, while the one at the back becomes the back and hind legs.

The artists' legs are dressed in the same colour as the lion's body, sometimes going as far as shoes simulating the colour and shape of the lion's legs.

The lion's head is large, reminiscent of a dragon's head, which is the characteristic of many stone lions in China.

Here is the perfect example with this Lion Statue of Fo featuring a typically Asian design.

Chinese lion costume

3) Lion Dance Styles in China
The lion dance was divided into two different styles in the south and north while keeping close costumes.

A) The Northern Lion Dance
Kung fu and lion dancing in the north are closely related. A young lion is played by a single person while the adult lion is played by a duet. The costumes are stronger and less decorative, allowing for wider movements.

When the lion dance is performed, the dancer at the front is lifted by the performer at the back so that the lion can get up.

Lion dances in northern China involve more gymnastics, involving rolling, wrestling, jumping, jumping, jumping, jumping, climbing, or kowtowing.

In order to enjoy the show it is recommended to visit Chinese martial arts theatres, such as the Red Theater in Beijing, or the same Shaolin Temple.

B) The South Lion Dance
Born in Guangdong, southern dance and popular style within Hong Kong, Macau and in the hometowns of the overseas Chinese.

The dance is based on the lion's behaviour, with an emphasis on actions such as scratching, body movement and licking the fur.

The performances are diverse and varied, both lively and entertaining and sometimes humorous. In addition, there are also skillful performances, such as playing with a ball when swallowing it.

To enjoy a lion dance in southern China it is recommended to go to the Chinese New Year's Eve party in Hong Kong.

Chinese lion

4) The origin and history of the lion dance
The origin of Chinese dance is divided into two parts. The most reliable would be this one:

In traditional Chinese culture, the lion did not exist and was a myth just like the dragon. Before the Han dynasty (202 BC - 220 AD), only a few lions had reached the central plains from the western part of ancient China (now Xinjiang), thanks to the trade on the Silk Road.

At that time, people imitated the appearance and actions of newly arrived lions in a show that became a lion dance in the Three Kingdoms period (220-280), then became popular with the rise of Buddhism in the northern and southern dynasties (420-589). Under the Tang dynasty (618-907), the lion dance was one of the court dances.

Then, the lion dances continued and became a famous spectacle among the population, in order to pray for luck during the spring festival or other celebrations.

The lion dance is an excellent example of Chinese popular culture, which has spread all over the world with Chinese immigration. Overseas Chinese in Europe, America, etc. have established many lion dance clubs, performing at Chinese festivals or on special occasions, especially the Chinese New Year.

chinese new year paris


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