If one traces back to the roots and history of lion dance, one would discover that lion, the animal itself, did not exist in China. The "Lion" itself, was a creature that people worshipped as Gods, to rid of illness, droughts. The history of Chinese worshipping animal creatures as Gods can be tracked back all the way to the Hang Dynasty.
The Origin of Lion Dance
Long long time ago, a creature called "Lian", would haunt the villages every year on Chinese New Years Eve. Although Lian did not harm people, it would destroy all the crops in the village. One year, the villagers decided had enough and needed to take action. They gathered everyone around, with farm tools as weapons. They also used bamboos, paper meshes, multi-coloured cloths sew together to make a lion, and banged drums, cymbals and gongs, as well as lighting firecrackers to scare Lian away. Since then, Lian did not return. From then on, the villagers turned this into an annual event, and gave each other red packets as a way to wish everyone a good year ahead.
Fut San / Fo Shan / Faat San / 佛山 / 佛裝
The Chinese Southern style lion dance origained from Faat San, a region in Canton China. This style of lion dance is mainly adopted by Chinese Kung Fu school, like Hung Gar, Hung Fut, Choy Li Fut, Lung Ying, Bak Hok, Tam Gar, Mok Gar etc. One of the most famous lion dancer ever known is Master Wong Fei Hung.
The Faat San style is a very strong and aggressive style, mainly performed by Chinese Kung Fu practitioners. The lion itself has eyes staring slightly downards and has a sharp horn. Back in the days, only some of the most senior students are allowed to perform lion dance, as it was a Kung Fu school's trademark. The lion dancers would show their specific techniques that would reflect the style of Kung Fu.
At Hong De Lion Dance Association, our Faat San style is inspired by Master Deng Chi Tang (鄧熾棠), who is a Jow Gar Kung Fu master. The style of lion dance is unique to his Kung Fu school in Jiu Jiang (九江) China.
Hok San / He Shan / 鶴山 / 鶴裝
The Hok San style was originally created by "The Canton Lion King" Fung Gang Cheung (馮庚長) . He was originally a Faat San style lion dancer, however he modified a lot of techniques by mimicking behaviours of cats. The Hok San style could be traced back as early as the Qing Dynasty.
Hok San lions are very colourful, with a less aggressive look as compared to a Faat San lion. The lion is always smiling, hence why it is very popular with spectators. The foot work is a lot more agile, and jumpy, just like a cat. The music is also a lot more complicated, allowing the lion to express itself with many different types of expressions.
The Hok San style is now extremely popular around the world, with most teams now using this style of lion dance in competitions, especially on the high poles.
At Hong De Lion Dance Association, our Hok San style is inspired by Grandmaster Lui San Yiu 呂新堯, and hence the style is called the Lui Family's Hok San Sar Ping 沙坪獅藝呂派一脈.