Cultural Significance

Lion Dance is not Dragon Dance. The easiest way to tell the difference is to see how many people are performing under the costume. There can only be two people inside a performing lion, the head, and the tail. Dragons are mounted on poles mounted by multiple people.

India is believed to be the country of origin for Lion Dance, supposedly spread to China with the spread of Buddhism- though many other theories and creation stories exist.

There are two major types of Lion Dance heads: Northern and Southern 

  • Chinese Northern: Started as entertainment for royalty. Main colors are red, orange, yellow, as well as green for female lions.
  • Chinese Southern: They can be/are used to summon luck and good fortune as well exorcise evil spirits, The actual head has large eyes, a mirror forehead, a single horn above the mirror. The lion pants are also considered protective. Additionally, there are two dance style variations: Hok san- where the lions are gentle and life like, Fut san- which has stronger movements and more emphasis on stances.

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