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Chinese Lion Head

Description

The Chinese Lion Head is a brightly coloured and adorned Lion head, typically made from paper mache and wool, with a moveable mouth and often blinking eyes.

Cultural notes

Lion dance 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 Chinese lion dance is sometimes mistakenly referred to as dragon dance by most first timers. An easy way to tell the difference is that a lion is normally operated by just two dancers and has a tail, while a dragon is longer and is held on poles by many people. Chinese lion dance fundamental movements can be found in Chinese martial arts.

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 honour special guests by the Chinese communities.

The Chinese Lion Dance is performed accompanied by the music of beating of tanggu (drum) (in Singapore, datanggu), cymbals, and gongs. Instruments synchronise to the lion dance movements and actions.

To participate, wait until the lion comes over and bats its large eyes at you, then feed a small donation (ideally inside a red envelope) into its mouth. The red envelopes are known as hong bao in Mandarin and symbolically represent good luck and prosperity.

Suggested activities

  • Books: ‘Kids Around the World Celebrate’
  • Discussion: How do different cultures celebrate?
  • Music and Movement: Use drums, gongs and cymbals to create rhythm and beats
  • Music and Movement: take turns being the head and tail of the dragon, use different movements to travel through the space – snaking, jumping, ducking up and down
  • Comparison: borrow both the Lion and Dragons head, discuss the similarities and differences between the two
  • Craft: Draw your own Lion’s head using traditional Chinese colours. Use streamers, ribbons or paper to create ‘tails’

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The research for this resource was made possible through a grant from the Central Coast Council.