Monday, February 11, 2008

ON LIONS AND DRAGONS






Traditionally practiced in various Asian countries with a style distinctly of their own, the
Lion Dance originated in China about a thousand years ago.

A typical Chinese Lion Dance troupe pursues one of two styles -- Northern and Southern. The former is more acrobatic and usually performed as entertainment for the royal court, while the latter is more symbolic, which is performed to exorcise evil spirits and to summon good fortune and luck. But generally speaking, the Chinese Lion Dance represents the myth of the lunar new year.

As for appearances, the northern lion is shaggy with colors of red, orange, yellow, and its head gold. The female lion is sometimes peppered with the color green. The southern lion, on the other hand, is created with a wider variety of colors. It has a distinctive head with large eyes, while its forehead is adorned with a mirror and a single horn.

The Lion Dance which is consisted of two people is also performed at other festive Chinese occasions such as business openings and weddings.

And then there is the Dragon Dance ...







The Dragon Dance is performed by a team of ten or more dancers. Oftentimes, only large organizations can afford to sustain a dragon dance team because of the greater expenses involved.The usual length and size recommended for the dragon is 112 feet, which is divided into nine significant sections. The distance of each minor (rib-like) section is 14 inches apart; therefore, the body has 81 rings.

A dragon used in Dragon Dances may be created in various ways, types and colors. Green is the most popular color because it represents a plentiful harvest. The other favored colors include: yellow for a solemn empire; gold or silver for prosperity; and red for excitement. A dragon's scales and tail are mostly created with shimmering silver material so as to invoke a joyous atmosphere.

Dragon Dances usher in the new year, as well as scare away evil spirits. Dancers hold poles used to raise and lower the dragon's body. Usually, it is led by a man holding a pole with a ball on top that symbolizes a Pearl of Wisdom, which entices the dragon to follow it to the beat of a drum, as if searching for wisdom and knowledge.

The wave-like pattern of a Dragon Dance is caused by the choreographed swinging of each section of its body. The even more complex patterns and tricks are achieved by running into spiraled formations; hence, causing the dragon's body to turn and twist on itself. More advanced maneuvers include various corkscrew-like rotating tricks, including certain acrobatic moves in which the performers stand on each others legs and shoulders to heighten the dragon’s stance and movements.

Although dragons are mythical creatures, the Chinese regard them as friendly and helpful; harbingers of good luck, long life, and great wisdom. Furthermore, the Chinese associate dragons with storm clouds and life-giving rain which assure bountiful harvests.




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posted by Señor Enrique at 5:44 AM


11 Comments:

Blogger g_mirage said...

The tales of dragons amaze me...even as a young kid I would wonder where the stories about them came from.

Found it interesting that the only reference to them are in the Bible book if Revelation (greek:dra'kon). The dragon is depicted as a terrifying monster,serpentlike devourer...much like those in your photos SenorE.

Colorful shots...I'd recommend your site to be included in the worldwide cities directory Senor...hope you're ok with it =)

February 11, 2008 7:43 AM  

Anonymous SexyMom said...

dragon pictures always amaze me--you have captured them now in vivid colors, and i like them very much. i just wish i could learn at least the basics.

February 11, 2008 8:55 AM  

Anonymous Major Tom said...

Oh, I 've always enjoyed this colorful dances.

Sadly this year, I was at work all day long that I didn't see any on the streets.

February 11, 2008 9:17 AM  

Blogger g_mirage said...

Ay Senor. Wish you were here is already listed pala!!! Sorry that I didn't notice sooner...Good day to you!

February 11, 2008 4:07 PM  

Blogger Photowalker said...

Nice shots. That was the dragon I missed because I was stuck at work. It's beautiful.

February 11, 2008 7:11 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I'm sure they have plenty more colorful lions and dragons, Photowalker, but since I had no idea of the schedule of festivities, I must've missed a lot, too, though I was already physically there in Chinatown.

We have to find a way to get a listing for next year :)

February 12, 2008 7:51 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Could you share with us the URL of this worldwide directory, G. Mirage? Thanks much!

Yes, these lions and dragons may be frightening but their colors make them appealing. The deafening firecrackers that come as soundtrack to their dances are what scares me ... hehehe.

February 12, 2008 7:54 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Hello Major Tom! Seems like you're busy at work lately, huh. Haven't been seeing much of your footprints in the blogosphere :)

Trust all is fine with you!

February 12, 2008 7:55 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Thanks, Dine! Glad you like them.

Do you mean photography basics? FPPF has a very affordable weekend workshop which I recommend :) I've taken it myself.

February 12, 2008 7:56 AM  

Blogger g_mirage said...

Haha Senor, I agree about the firecrackers...my almost 2 year old son was so frightened by it he came to me and hid under the computer chair, telling me 'gulat' all the time when I ask him to come out...It's funny but I can really how scared he was as he keeps repeating 'gulat...'

Here is the link, http://www.geraldengland.co.uk/dp/cdpbm.htm , 4 in total of Manila, 2 being inactive. =)

February 13, 2008 4:14 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Oh, so cute of him, though I'm sure he was really startled, G. Mirage. I had a cocker spaniel who would jump on my lap whenever he was scared of some firecrackers.

Thanks for the URL. Just visited it :)

February 13, 2008 9:35 PM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.

 
 

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