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Lion Dances for Chinese New Year celebration in Guilin China

Category: Chinese Culture

The lively, noisy lion dances are seen most commonly during Chinese New Year celebrations. Possibly you are not strange to such performances, which they are always performed in Chinatowns worldwide. Definitely in Guilin, performing lion dances is a most spectacular event in this festival season.

First goes a little introduction. The Lion Dance is typically performed by two dancers inside a stylised lion costume who dance the way a lion supposedly moves. It is believed to scare away evil spirits and to summon good luck and fortune. Historical records show that during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the Lion Dance was already performed for the royal family.

In over 1,000 years of development, there are generally two types of lions, namely Northern (北獅) and Southern (南獅). , which differ in the appearance of the lion and the performance style. As Guilin is situated in South China, the lion dance is of Southern style. Just 18km from downtown Guilin, Daxu ancient town present a joyful atmosphere on February 8 this year, the first day of Chinese New Year. Just follow the noise from the drums and firecrackers to find this event.

In the Lion Dance, two people act as a lion; One handles the head and the other plays the body and tail. Another dancer is needed to hold a ball on a stick for the line to chase after. Wherever the ball goes, the dragon follows. The lion head has two eye-holes that allow the head dancer to see where he is going. Often times a Buddha in a large painted mask teases the lion with a fan.

The "lion" is accompanied by some musicians, playing a large drum, cymbals and a gong. The music follows the moves of the lion, the drum follows the lion, the cymbals and the gong follow the drum player.

Cai Qing or "plucking the greens" is a special program of Southern lion dancing. The greens here is normally represented by a bunch of vegetable leaves, attched with "hong bao" (lucky money in a red packet), hung over some hard-to-get-to places. The lion had to "eats" the greens, which is a symbolic act of blessing.

People said that firecrackers and loud banging of music are often used to scare away evil spirits; and the lion dance bring good fortune and wealth. Throughout the performance, the dancing lion mimics various physical gestures to look life-like.  The procession led through the streets, bringing joy and happiness to the audiences.

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