The origin of lion dance
Many hundreds of years ago, a village in China was terrorised by a large and fierce beast on the eve of the New Year. The beast frightened the villagers into their homes and ravaged through their stocks and crops. After the beast left, the villagers prayed to God for a whole year for advice and protection. On the eve of the following New Year, God descended a lion from the heavens to protect the villagers from the beast, and it came from the top of the mountain to the village at the base of the mountain.
Villagers were initially frightened by the size and fierceness of the lion, but knew that their prayers had been answered. It was like nothing they had ever seen before – it had big, strong eyes, a bulgy round nose, a big mouth with many sharp teeth and a horn on the top of its head. Because the lion had come from heaven, they fed it the freshest vegetables and money in little red envelopes. They treated the lion with respect and touched the lion for good luck and protection.
The Lion and Chinese New Year
On the night of the eve of the New Year, the beast came to the village and once again, began to terrorise the villagers. The mystical lion leapt in front of the beast and they began to fight. The strength and the power of the lion left the beast scurrying away to never return again. After the fight, the villagers cheered and danced while the lion slowly walked back up to the mountain and returned to heaven.
To ensure that the beast would never appear again, the villagers created a lion-like creature using two strong men and the rest would make lots of loud noise using their pots and pans to ward off the beast. They carried this tradition always starting on the eve of the New Year and also throughout the New Year celebrations for 15 days to ensure good luck, protection and happiness throughout the year.
The Lion Today
Today, the mystical lion has evolved but still possesses the big, strong eyes, a bulgy round nose, a big mouth with many teeth and a horn on the top of its head. The tradition of performing the lion dance on the eve and throughout the New Year is still practised today. Lions are commonly used for happy and auspicious occasions such as celebrations, weddings, birthdays, grand openings, festivals, events and most importantly, Chinese New Year.
Prosperous Mountain Lion Dance carries on the tradition of lion dancing from many hundreds of years.
If you do a search for the origins of lion dancing, you will find a handful of stories, each slightly different but similar.
PMLD strives to spread the word of this ancient culture through performances, workshops and education.