There is many history books that written and stated the appearance of lions. That is the time factor and also the record on human made lion. Even in ancient music books also stated there is appearance of lion. Any how through all the evidence that is founded, the history will be conclude in a way.
The animal, Lions, were not originated from China. It was belief to appears and be brought in from India Buddhism Culture. According to the history record, Lion dance was founded in the Han Dynasty. The Han emperor opens the Silk Road for trading and culture exchange.
During the famous silk road period, the Han Emperor entertain and serve quest from other countries with music and dance show. Dancer at that time wore bird looking mask, and also a few animal looking mask to perform its dance. Then the emperor's respected guest notice that lion was out group of these animal form of dancing. Finally his guest found out that, at that time, In China, there is no sign or appearance of lions. Later then, through the business connection of Western Silk Road, Rulers in what is todays Iran and Afghanistan's sent lions and also a lion trainer to china to perform a lion show. This is similar with what we see today in command circus show. That is how the Lion show from the countries of Western Silk Road came in to China.
THE LION DANCE
The Art of Lion Dancing spread. According to the legend in the human civilizations, it has been there a few hundred years of history. In one of the history stated, a normal person in the society is not easily expose to the look of a lion, and won't have a clear image of how lions look like. Only Royals know and seen how does lion looks like. That also earns a respect from the human towards the lions. Because of these respect, and not clear of how lion look like, they could only imagine its look, and claim his imagination is true and tell it to others who don't know about lion.Through the modernized of the civilizations, activities of civilization and moral ethics of civilization, founded a special piece of culture art.The Lion Dance. After many development in history and civilization, The Art Lion Dance spread into two category.
Back to earlier history it states , there is music book named "qiu tang shu ying yue zhi" (The Ancient Tang Music Dream) there is a many style of melody and music influence. One of them is the Taiping Rhythm. In the Taiping Rhythm, there is a "Five Style Of Lions Dance".It explains that the lions has a furry body and 2 human is hiding inside the furry body puppet. The looks is pretty much similar with a real lion. The 2 human under the puppet is trying to imitate the movement of a lion. Later then, each and every style went solo and set up its very own unique style of dancing. When the perform of these dance take place, the environment is normally really grand, those lions were elegantly dancing to the music. There is also a Chinese poem describe the environment of lion dancing. (You can refer to the attach video below.) According to some related written records, Dance that imitating the Lion had already appear in early Tang Dynasty and its look and movement is already very professional and it look very similar to todays Northern Lion. In history books also stated, the animal, lions are originated from India. Lions are describe as Buddhist Guardian in Buddhist books. From India, lions was brought into china.
From these related history evidence, it can be conclude in one conclusion which is, in between the Han Dynasty, Wei Dynasty and the Chun Dynasty, The image of lions and the Buddhism culture in Han Dynasty was brought into China. In the Wei Dynasty, when the art went from the Royals to the moderate society, Lion Dance was a popular trend in the Northern Part Of China. Wei Emperor name then as Northern Wei Auspicious Lion. Then it went to Nan Sung and the name was changed to Northern Lion because it looks like the Peking dog where is whole body is redish gold in colour and long fur.
THE Cantonese LION
The Lion Dance was then brought down to the Tang, Sung, Yuen, Ming and Ching Dynasty. Many occasions later then will have Lion Dance to spice up the celebrations. Because of difference culture in the Chinese society, there is then many similar dance to the Lion Dance. The revolution of Lion Dance went from North to South. The story of the way of the Southern Lion gets popular has many versions and the looks of these Southern Lions also has many different versions. Eg: the Hakka Lions, Chi Ling, and Pai Yao. These Southern Lions was stated in history that it was founded during the end of Ming Dynasty and the Start of Ching Dynasty. It was name as "Cantonese Lions"
During the Ching Dynasty, Lion dance has been misuse as a politic rebelling props. Government is ruled by the Manchurians, the Chinese are called Han's. The Chinese never like the Manchu government. So, during that time many people form rebellious group gather to fight the government, but they can't obviously do it because if they do so, they will get caught and be sentence to death, so one way to do it is to secretly do it and secretly send message. Ended out, many wushu and non wushu people uses lion dance to actually secretly delivers the message and runs rebellious activity. That also explains why today lion dance have this practice of "Chai Ching" picking the green. During the Ching Dynasty, "chai ching" meant something else to most of the lion dancers. To show their dissatisfaction against the government, that's why they "chai ching" another meaning but same pronunciation of "chai" is actually step and "ching" is obviously the Ching Dynasty, so they are simply sending a message of stepping the ching government. But today in the modern, every thing has been looked at the positive side. Todays "chai Ching" means good luck bringing to every individual.
Before year 1928 people named the Cantonese Lion as the "Auspicious Lion" but In Cantonese, the pronunciations of auspicious is pronounce as "Sleeping". In the incident of 3rd May 1928, many people of Jinnan was torture and kill by the Japanese soldier and the Chinese was name as "The Sick Asians". Because of this incident, the Chinese get angry and united and fight their enemies. To show their strength and the love for their country, the Auspicious Lion also later then change its name to the "Awaken Lion".
In Canton, Futshan and Hoksan, the Auspicious/Awaken Lion's founded ground, The wushu society later then combine Lion Dance and wushu "Horse Stance" as it work very well with the strength of waist and horse stance. The art then interest many people and it was well accept by the society. So more people started to learn lion dance.
From China, the art later then spread across the world.
Source and related images/video @ http://lionarts.blogspot.com
Edited by General_Zhaoyun, 20 August 2008 - 12:16 AM.