The Chinese Lion Dance

This aesthetic dates back to the Qin Dynasty (221BC-206BC). The lion dance is one of the most vibrant performance arts that the Chinese history passed along. It was so popular that other Asian countries like Japan, Tibet, Korea and Vietnam adopted it and to this day have their own versions of the lion and performance. The lion dance is usually performed on the Chinese New Year accompanied with musical instruments consisting of gongs, drums and cymbals. The beating music helps the performers synchronize the Lion’s movements.


Above are three images of different costumes of the Chinese lion.

The costumes of the Chinese lion usually have eye-catching bright colors. The mask of the lion has a trigger that can be pulled to swing the ears, close the mouth and eyelids of the lion. The fur of the costume is usually extended and left hanging from the sides to provide that magnified look when the lion jumps.

Other lions from Asia: Left is the Japanese, right is the Korean



In the videos you can watch the excellent coordination of the performers especially with their footwork and postures that accurately resemble a lion in ready position attacking its prey. You might recognize some aerobic jumps that the lion does on the poles, which are very similar to today’s circus tricks.

Here are two of the hundreds of videos on YouTube of the performance:





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2 Comments. Leave new

  • I really liked that you included videos and pictures of what you’re trying to illustrate. I wish that you had included more information about the Japanese, Korean, or Tibetan (or other mentioned country) where thy adapted the design of the Chinese lion. It might also be interesting to compare the Chinese lion dance with the Chinese Dragon dance, where instead of wearing the lion’s head and having only two people, the dragon is more on sticks and maneuvered by multiple people.

  • Brandon Boiko
    January 24, 2016 7:44 pm

    I have had the opportunity to see one of these performances at the dragonboat festival in Denver, and it was aesthetically pleasing both visually and musically. The bright colors mixed with the beating drums and the fluid motions of the lion really brings it to life. The performance is well choreographed and seems to require a lot of acrobatic skill, its not wonder many of the moves spur from Chinese martial arts.


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