Although lions are not native to China,
lions and the tradition of lion dancing
have been a part of Chinese culture and
history for over a thousand years.
Chinese Lions bear little resemblance to
real lions, and are portrayed as peaceful
creatures that possess nobility and
dignity. They symbolize strength,
courage and wisdom.
Lion Dance is an exciting addition to any
occasion or ceremony. It is a great form
of entertainment for cultural events,
store openings, wedding banquets and
Our professional troupe can customize a
performance for you, or conduct
instructional seminars for your group at
very reasonable prices.
To arrange bookings or to answer any
questions you may have, feel free to
There are several legends of the origin of the Lion Dance. This
is the one that we love the best:
1500 years ago, there was a mountain side village in China that
was being tormented by a ferocious creature called the Nian.
The Nian was a scaly beast, resembling a cross between a
dragon and a lion, with a single horn on its head. On the 15th of
each lunar month, the Nian would come down from its home on
top of the mountain to prey on the villagers. People were
obviously terrified, and would lock themselved indoors before
sunset on the days of its coming.
On the 15th of the coldest lunar month of the year, a wandering
Buddhist monk entered the village. Curious about why the
streets were bare, he knocked on the door of a basket weaver
to see what was happening. The old basket lady told him the
story of the monster and of how her grandchildren were eaten
by the Nian. The Monk consoled the lady and devised a plan to
rid the village of the monster.
In the freezing cold of that moonless night, the Nian appeared.
As it took its first step into the village, the villagers burst out
from the homes, beating on pots and pans, shouting, and
swinging fiery torches. Out of the old lady's home emerged
another creature resembling the Nian, however far more
colourful. The Monk had modified one of the old lady's baskets
to create the first "Lion" costume.
Holding the basket head up high, the Monk leapt up in the air,
kicked his legs and charged at the Nian. The Nian retreated in
fear, never to return.
To commemorate the Monk's triumph over the Nian, the
villagers would annually dance in the streets with elaborately
decorated Lion costumes while beating on drums and gongs,
and thus was how the Lion Dance tradition began. A Monk
character, "Happy Buddha" is also sometimes featured as part
of the Lion Dance in recognition of the Monk's role in
vanquishing the Nian.
Legend of the Lion Dance
Types of Chinese Lions
Chinese Lions are divided into two major
categories: Northern and Southern.
Northern (Peking) Lions look very much like
smiling dogs with long yellow and orange hair and
Southern Lions are further divided into Fut Shan
Style and Hok Shan Style.
The Hok Shan Style Lion has a flat wide mouth
that resembles a duck bill.
Northern (Peking) Lion
Hok Shan Lion
The Fut Shan Style Lion has a curved mouth and long tail. Traditional Fut
Shan Lions come in colourings representing the famous Three Kingdom
generals: Liu Bei (Yellow), Guan Gung (Red) and Zhang Fei (Black).
Modern Lions come in a wide variety of colours,
including those decorated with dazzling laser paper.
Modern lions made in Malaysia are considered the
best, due to their spectacular detailing, compact
structure and light weight.
Modern Lion with Laser Paper
Features of the Lion
Two symbolic features of lion heads are the mirror on its forehead, and the red ribbon
tied to its horn.
Mirrors are commonly used in Chinese culture to ward off evil spirits. It is believed that
spirits travel in straight lines, and thus when one comes face to face with its own
reflection, it will be frightened and reflected away.
Legend has it that the Lion was one of the Nine Sons of the Dragon and dwelt in the
heavens. Being a Lion in heaven is not easy, because everyone up there follows a
vegetarian diet. The hungry lion would dream of dining on meat, day-in and day-out.
One day, while lounging in the sacred garden of the Western Heaven, he spotted a
monkey frolicking in a peach tree, his temptation became too powerful, he leapt up
high snatching his jaws at the tasty looking monkey, clawed at the trunk of the sacred
tree, violently tearing whole strips of bark and wood away. The Jade Emperor, ruler
over all in Heaven and on Earth, had no choice but to order capital punishment on the
Lion for his complete disregard for the laws of heaven, and so had the Lion's head
chopped off and both head and body cast down to earth. The Goddess of Mercy
"Guan Yin" felt compassion toward the Lion and reattached his head with an
enchanted red ribbon. Guan Yin explained that as she had shown compassion to the
Lion, the Lion must in turn show compassion towards all living beings, and refrain from
eating meat. The enchanted red ribbon can still be seen today on the horn of the Lion
costume's head, and the Lion, in performances, still refrains from eating meat, dining
solely on....lettuce. The red ribbon symbolizes courage and honour, and is a reminder
for the Lion that he is bound to do only good deeds.
Guan Yin & the Lion
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The Chinese Lion Dance has a long
history and tradition that goes back over
a thousand years. Distinct regional styles
emerged, including: Futsan, Hoksan,
Taiwan and Peking. In this rare
instructional video, 24 lion dance "jump"
and "hold" techniques are demonstrated
and taught step-by-step. These
impressive techniques can be added to
any lion dance style or system, and make
every show a guaranteed crowd pleaser.
Amary DVD Case
NTSC All Regions Video Format
|Buy DVD Now
Price $24.95 CAD
Chinese Lion Dance
Jumps & Holds