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Lion Dance practice at 

Shaolin Hung-Gar Tai-Chi Institute

    Ho Lap Tin Hung-Gar Association   & Chuengs Hung- Gar performing Lion Dance in Hong-Kong 

Ho Lap Tin Hung-Gar Association performing Lion Dance in Hong Kong 

Lion Dance Practice 

The Chinese Southern Lion (simplified Chinese: 南狮; traditional Chinese: 南獅; pinyin: Nán shī) or Cantonese Lion dance originated from Guangdong. The Southern Lion has a single horn, and is associated with the legend of a mythical monster called Nian. The lion's head is traditionally constructed using papier-mâché over a bamboo frame covered with gauze, then painted and decorated with fur.[35][36] Its body is made of durable layered cloth also trimmed with fur. Newer lions, however, may be made with modern materials such as aluminium instead of bamboo and are lighter. Newer versions may also apply shinier modern material over the traditional lacquer such as sequin or laser sticker, but they do not last as long as those with lacquer. Different types of fur may be used in modern lion.

There are two main styles of Southern Lion: the Fut San or Fo Shan (Chinese: 佛山; pinyin: Fóshān; lit.: 'Buddha Mountain'), and the Hok San or He Shan (simplified Chinese: 鹤山; traditional Chinese: 鶴山; pinyin: Hèshān; lit.: 'Crane Mountain'), both named after their place of origin. Other minor styles include the Fut-Hok (a hybrid of Fut San and Hok San created in Singapore by Kong Chow Wui Koon in the 1960s), and the Jow Ga (performed by practitioners of Jow family style kung fu).[33] The different lion types can be identified from the design of the lion head.

Fo Shan is the style adopted by many kung fu schools. It uses kung fu moves and postures to help with its movements and stances, and only the most advanced students are allowed to perform. Traditionally, the Fo Shan lion has bristles instead of fur, and is heavier than the modern ones now popularly used. All traditional Fo Shan lions have pop-up teeth, tongue, and eyes that swivel left and right. On the back are gold-foiled rims and a gilded collar where the troupe's name may be sewn on. It has a very long tail with a white underside, and is often attached with bells. The designs of the tail are also more square and contain a diamond pattern going down the back. It has a high forehead, curved lips and a sharp horn on its head. Traditional Fo Shan lions are ornate in appearance, a number of regional styles however have developed around the world. The newer styles of Fo Shan lions replace all the bristles with fur and the tails are shorter. The eyes are fixed in place, and the tongue and teeth do not pop up. The tail is more curvy in design, does not have a diamond pattern, and lacks bells.




Ho Lap Tin Hung-Gar Association Lion Dancing at Cheung Chau Market for 

Sai Wan Tin Hau Festival

Ho Lap Tin Hung-Gar association 

Lion Dancing (drinking beer) at 

Cheung Chau Tin Hau Festival.


The He Shan style lion is known for its richness of expression, unique footwork, impressive-looking appearance and vigorous drumming style. The founder of this style is the "Canton Lion King" Feng Gengzhang (simplified Chinese: 冯庚长; traditional Chinese: 馮庚長; pinyin: Féng Gēngzhǎng) in the early 20th century. Feng was born in a village in He Shan county in Guangdong where he was instructed in martial arts and lion dance by his father. Later, he also studied martial arts and lion dance in Foshan before returning to his hometown and setting up his own training hall. He developed his version of lion dance, introducing new techniques by studying and mimicking the movement of cats, such as "catching mouse, playing, catching birds, high escape, lying low and rolling". He and his disciples also made changes to the lion head; its forehead is lower, its horn rounded and it has a duck beak mouth with flat lips, the body also has more eye-catching colours. Together with new dance steps and footwork, a unique rhythm invented by Feng called the "Seven Star Drum", Feng created a new style of lion dancing that is high in entertainment value and visual appeal. In the early 1920s, the He Shan lion dance was performed when Sun Yat-Sen assumed office in Guangzhou, creating a stir. The He Shan lion performers were invited to perform in many places within China and Southeast Asia during celebratory festivals. The style became very popular in Singapore; the He Shan lion acquired the title of "Lion King of Kings", with a "king" character (王) added on its forehead. The Singapore Hok San Association made further changes by modifying the design of the lion head, shortening its body, and creating a new drumbeat for the dance. The He Shan lion has been adopted by many modern groups, with most of the rest adopting Jow Ga-related styles.[citation needed]

Different colors are used to signify the age and character of the lions. The lion with white fur is considered to be the oldest of the lions, while the lion with golden yellow fur is the middle child. The black lion is considered the youngest lion, and the movement of this lion should be fast like a young child or a headstrong teenager. The colors may also represent the character of the lion: the golden lion represents liveliness, the red lion courage, and the green lion friendship. There are also three lion types that represent three historical characters in the classic Romance of the Three Kingdoms who were blood oath brothers sworn to restore the Han dynasty


A Cantonese Guan Gong (Kwan Kung) lion ushers in the Chinese New Year in Chinatown, Manhattan, New York City (USA).

The Liu Bei (Cantonese: Lau Pei) lion is the eldest of the three brothers and has a yellow (actually imperial yellow as he became the first emperor of the Shu-Han Kingdom) based face with white beard and fur (to denote his wisdom). It sports a multicolored tail (with white underside) signifying the colors of the five elements. Older Liu Bei lions also have black in the tail while the new ones do not. There are three coins on the collar. This lion is used by schools with an established Martial art master (Sifu) or organization and is known as the Rui Shi (simplified Chinese: 瑞狮; traditional Chinese: 瑞獅; pinyin: Ruì Shī; lit.: 'Auspicious Lion').

The Guan Gong (Cantonese: Kwan Kung) lion has a red based face, black bristles, with a long black beard (as he was also known as the "Duke with the Beautiful Beard"). The tail is red and black with white trim and a white underside. He is known as the second brother and sports two coins on the collar. This Lion is known as the Xing Shi (simplified Chinese: 醒狮; traditional Chinese: 醒獅; pinyin: Xǐng Shī; lit.: 'Awakened Lion').

The Zhang Fei (Cantonese: Cheung Fei) lion has a black based face with short black beard, small ears, and black bristles. The tail is black and white with white trim and a white underside. Traditionally this lion also had bells attached to the body. Being the youngest of the three brothers, there is only a single coin on the collar. This Lion is known as the Dou Shi (simplified Chinese: 斗狮; traditional Chinese: 鬥獅; pinyin: Dòu Shī; lit.: 'Fighting Lion') because Zhang Fei had a quick temper and loved to fight. This lion is used by clubs that were just starting out or by those wishing to make a challenge.

Later three more Lions were added to the group. The green-faced lion represented Zhao Yun or Zhao (Cantonese: Chiu) Zi Long. The green lion has a green tail with black trim and a white underside, as well as a white beard and fur and an iron horn. Often called the fourth brother, this lion is also called the Heroic Lion because Zhao was said to ride through Cao Cao's million man army to rescue Liu Bei's infant and fight his way back out. The yellow lion has yellow/orange face and body with white beard, representing Huang Zhong (Cantonese: Wong Tsung), who was given this color when Liu Bei rose to become Emperor. The Huang Joon has a full yellow tail with white trim. This lion is called the Righteous Lion. The white lion is known as Ma Chao (Cantonese: Ma Chiu), he was assigned this color because he always wore a white arm band in his battle against the ruler of Wei, Cao Cao, to signify that he was in mourning for his father and brother who had been murdered by Cao Cao. This lion is therefore also known as the funeral lion, and is never used except for the funeral of a Master or an important head of a group. In such cases the lion is usually burned right after use as it is considered inauspicious to be kept around. This lion is sometimes confused with the silver lion which sometimes has a whitish colouring. These three along with Guan Yu and Zhang Fei were known as the "Five Tiger Generals of Shun," each representing one of the colors of the five elements.



LA Banks and the Philadelphia Folklore Project present Sifu Shu Pui Cheung's Lion Dance Ensemble

Green Lion


Green Lion (青狮) is the lion dance form associated with the province of Fujian and the Hokkien-speaking people. It is similar to the Chinese southern lion dance, except that the lion is mainly green in color and has a distinct round flat mask. It is believed to have originated in the anti-Manchu movements after the fall of the Ming dynasty in 1644. The word "green lion" in the Hokkien language sounds similar to "Qing army" (清师). During training sessions for fighters, the Green lion was fitted with blades symbolizing the Manchurian army and would become a moving target for trainees. It is said that after the fall of Qing dynasty in 1912, martial arts expert Mr. Gan De Yuan (干德源) organized a performance in Quanzhou where the Green Lion was dismembered to represent the overthrow of the Qing dynasty. From that point onwards, the Green Lion is used without the blades and performed for cultural and ritual purposes.