The Art of Chinese Lion Dance goes back to the same time as Chinese history. Chinese lion dance may have been influenced by cultures outside China during the Han and Tang Dynasty (618 to 906AD) where there was a cross fertilization of cultures between the Tang imperial court and other cultures. The lion dance then was performed for the royal audience of the emperor and therefore was considered a ritual that seeks to bless the imperial rule by getting rid of all obstacles while showering blessings and prosperity for the good of the whole imperial empire.
However, there was also a folklore interpretation of the Chinese lion art preceding the historical fact about lion dance in ancient China. A beast called “nian” used to cause havoc in villages and the people masked themselves into a creature that resembled this beast succeeded in scaring it away and from that time onwards, the culture of lion dancing became a tradition of happiness, joy and celebration of all things good for the common people as well.
No matter whether one subscribes to the historical or mythological interpretation of the Chinese lion dance, it always symbolizes happiness, joy, prosperity, luck and success. The Chinese Lion Dance is therefore a dichotomy of all that is good versus the bad. For every Chinese household, any joyous occasion of great significance will never be completed without the colorful lion dance, accompanied by deafening clashes of drums and cymbals. It is a sight that befits all, for those who watches this ancient traditional performance will be lucky too.
Moreover, the art of the Chinese lion dance also reflect the Chinese traditional culture and history. For instance, Da Tou Fuo or big head Buddha is a reflection of Buddhism in Chinese culture. In traditional lion dance troupes, specific lion heads and performances were also based on Chinese history such as the Romance of the Three Kingdoms (San Guo). With the triple amalgamation of the three pillars of Chinese traditions (Culture, History and Religion) into a spectacular performances that also combines martial arts and acrobats, the lion dance will and always be a crowd puller.