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Sanzao Lion Dance

Updated: 2018-09-16

Sanzao Lion Dance was designated as a city-level intangible cultural heritage item in July 2018.

Lion Dance prevailed in northern China in the Tang Dynasty (618-907 ce) and emerged in Foshan and other Guangdong areas in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) before it spread to Sanzao Island in the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1912).

Inspired by patriotic Chinese overseas returnees, Sanzao locals of vision enlightened villagers by drumming and playing lion dances to support Dr Sun Yat-sen's revolution -- to expel Tatar barbarians, revive Zhonghua (China), establish a republic, and distribute land equally among the people. Therefore, Lion Dance is dubbed Waking Lions.


Lion Dance

Lion Dance, along with Crane Dance, was originally organized to parade through the village and worship at the temple during Chinese New Year or deity birthday festivities, give an alias to a 30-year-old man -- who is considered to be steadfast at the age -- or pay a New Year call to someone in his 60s. It has developed into a traditional folk custom in today’s Sanzao Town of Jinwan District.

Combining martial art, choreography, and percussion music, Lion Dance lively visualizes joy, fury, waking, astonishment, suspicion, and fierceness through the subtle movements of “lions” while featuring highly challenging conventional sporting dedication. Esteemed as Star of Auspiciousness, the dance displays might and grandeur and is believed to drive away evil spirits.


High-pile Lion Dance [Photos courtesy WeChat account (ID: gh_449783ce53d3)]

There are two genres of the Chinese Lion Dance -- Northern Lion and the Southern Lion. Sanzao Lion Dance, mightily modelling and colorfully costumed with sonorous clangors of gongs and drums, belongs to Southern Lion. A team consists of 12 members performing the head and tail parts and playing percussions.

Each team is capable of playing "plucking the green in the air, on the ground, or beneath the bridge," and other extremely demanding repertoires on high tiles.


Sanzao Lion Dance [Photo by Zeng Yao / Zhujiang Evening Post]


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