Lion dance (traditional Chinese: 舞獅; simplified Chinese: 舞狮; pinyin: wǔshī) is a form of traditional dance in Chinese culture and other Asian countries in which performers mimic a lion’s movements in a lion costume to bring good luck and fortune. The lion dance is usually performed during the Chinese New Year and other Chinese traditional, cultural and religious festivals. It may also be performed at important occasions such as business opening events, special celebrations or wedding ceremonies, or may be used to honor special guests by the Chinese communities. [Source: Internet]
Lion dance has long history that can be traced back around A.D. 500, more than 1500 years ago. It has major influence on culture of east Asia. Nowadays, you can find different types of lion dance in China, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Indonesia and many more countries.
In 2006, the performance along with the costume of Lion dance has been categorized as National Intangible Cultural Heritage by China. The performance maybe well seen at Chinese New Year festive, but the making of the costume, especially the lion head is rarely known by many.
Here are two short videos show how they make lion head by hand.
There are so many details on lion head but we couldn’t see that much from a distance during a performance. By any chance, if you find the lion dance costume in some museum, please take your time and enjoy all the detail works. They are truly amazing.
Time lapse videos of digital sketch can be found here.
In the beginning I am not sure how many pieces should be in this series. But after studying loads of photos I choose four color theme, white, black, red and yellow as they are the most popular colors for lion dance costume. [All photos come from internet search and are for demonstration only.]
The interesting thing is, lion does not live in Asia. Yet, lion dance becomes so popular and well known in Asian culture. It is believed that the lion was first introduced to Asia as a tribute to emperor from west (north Africa to middle east). The lion was considered as mystery exotic beast with power and strength which could break the evil spirit. That was the reason why people loved it and tried to mimic the lion with dance movement.
For me, I simply admire how craftsman made the lion head from scratch. 😀