The lion dance is a long-standing
Chinese tradition. Even today, the lion dance endures as an
ever-celebrated facet of Chinese culture.
At Hong Luck Kung Fu Club, we continue
to advance this tradition by sharing it with those who are interested
in its beauty and athleticism.
The lion represents the
"spirit" of a martial arts school. Traditionally, the lion
was used to frighten demons from local businesses and communities,
and help bring good fortune to all. Today, the tradition endures by
commemorating a host of festivals and opening ceremonies.
The colours of lions vary, and they
may follow those attributed to the Chinese god Kwan Kung and his
brothers Chang and Liu.
In terms of athleticism, lion dance
routines are dynamic and acrobatic. The physical and mental demands
of high-level routines are so great that there are now lion dance
competitions held annually throughout the world!
Flash needed. Broadband recommended.
History and Origins of Lion
During the long revolutionary resistance against the Ch'ing
government, the martial arts community often used their lion
dance to communicate with the other Chinese patriots.
Although no real lions ever existed in China, lions and the
tradition of lion dance have existed in Chinese culture and history
for thousands of years. Chinese lions bear very little resemblance to
real lions, however, they play an important role in Chinese folklore.
Lions are portrayed as peaceful creatures that are considered divine
animals of nobility and dignity. They symbolize strength, courage and
In absence of records, there are several versions of the
history and origin of the lion dance.
A popular belief is that the lion dance finds its roots in the Tang
Dynasty (AD 618-906). Legend has it that the emperor had a strange
dream one night. In his dream, an odd creature he had never laid eyes
upon before saved his life and carried him to safety. The next day,
wondering what this creature was and what the dream meant, the
emperor described his reverie to his ministers. One of the ministers
explained that the strange creature resembled an animal called a
"lion", which did not exist in China at the time. The
emperor, wanting to see this "lion" while awake, ordered
them to create a model of it, and because of his dream, the lion came
to symbolize good luck, happiness, and prosperity.
Another account tells of a lion frequently terrorising a small
village in China. In order to stop the attacks of the beast, all the
villagers banded together and beat their pots and pans to make a
racket that could drive away the lion. It is said some even put on
costumes that resembled the lion. Other versions of this account tell
of the villagers consulting a Buddhist monk for protection. The monk
eventually tamed the lion, which in turn became the protector of the
people. This monk is often represented as a big - headed Buddha (dai
to fut), as seen in most southern lion dances.
Probably, the most credible version of the origin of the lion
dance is this. of a mythical lion originating in heaven was reborn.
Being very mischievous and having a fondness for practical jokes, he
created a great deal of trouble for everyone. On one occasion, he
decided to play a practical joke on the Jade Emperor. Angered at the
trouble the lion caused, the Jade Emperor killed the lion by cutting
the lion's head off and separating it from its body. He then threw
both the head and the body of the lion down to the earth to rot. Upon
discovering the fate of the lion, Kwan Yin (the goddess of mercy)
felt sorry for the lion and decided to help him. Using a long red
ribbon, she tied the lions head back on and brought him back to life.
This red ribbon is still seen today, and is said to have the ability
to ward off the evil spirits. Kwan Yin also adorned the lion with a
horn and mirror to drive away evil spirits.
Hoi Gong (Eye dotting) ceremony
Hence, every new lion head must be blessed by a ceremonial
awakening of the lion. This ceremony is known as "Hoi
Gong", or the "Eye Opening/Dotting". Traditionally, a
new lion should not be used if it has not experienced Hoi
Gong. This ceremony involves painting the eyes of the lion before the
start of the lion dance in order to awaken its spirit. Through this,
the lion is given birth into the world. It is believed that any lion
used at any kind of event without being blessed or awakened will
bring misfortune and bad luck.
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