Differences in the Lion Dance

The Northern Lion

The Northern Lion looks pretty much like a “Peking Dog” (北京犬), with its whole body covered with long fur. The Northern Lion will normally perform in pairs with another person holding a ball for the pair of lion to chase after. Sometimes, to make things more exciting, two lion kids will join in to perform together with the two adult Lions. The pair of adult Northern Lions is made up of a female and a male. Initially their genders were differentiated by the color of the ribbon that is tied on the lions’ head. The female Northern Lion has a green colored ribbon tied on, while the male has a red colored ribbon. But currently, the gender of the northern lion can also be differentiated by the color of its fur on its head and its back, i.e. green for a female and red for a male.

(Male Northern Lion)


(Female Northern Lion)


The Northern Lion Dance projects a very active, happy, and playful movement. In their performance, they will joyously and actively chased after the ball, by leaping over tables, chairs, spinning themselves in 360 degrees stunt and rolling over one and another.


The Southern Cantonese Lion

The Southern Cantonese lion style of dancing is very much focus on “The Horse Stance.” Initially, there were 2 schools of Southern Cantonese lion style of dancing. One being the Futsan (佛山) and the other is the Hoksan (鶴山). However, as time rolled on, the people became more and more creative and they combined certain styles of arts and crafts of Hoksan Lion Dance and Futsan Lion Dance together to form the Futthock style. This was created by the Singaporeans. Also, the Jow Ga (周家) style was formed in China. It uses the combinations of arts and crafts of Hoksan and Futsan.


The Futsan Lion (佛山獅)

In the history of the Southern Lion dance, the Futsan Lion was the first Lion to be created in China. It has a high forehead, curved lips and a very sharp horn on its head. Their dance movement are quite rough and their dancing routine involved in big movements. There are many schools teaching the Futsan Lion Dancing style compared to Hoksan.Fo Shan shi


The Hoksan Lion (鶴山獅)

The Hoksan Lion was created very much later after the existence of the Futsan Lion. It was created by Master Feng Geng, Chang (馮庚長) during the Ching Dynasty. Master Feng learnt his Lion Dance skills from his master, Le Xing, Feng (馮紹銜) who was a well known Chinese medication master and a student of the Shaolin martial school.

One day, Master Feng saw a cat chasing after a mouse in his house.  He was very fascinated by the movements of the cat that was chasing after the mouse. He found that the movements of the cat were very graceful and elegant. That incident strikes his mind to compare the movements of the cat and the movements of the Futsan Lion Dance. From his comparisons, he realized that the Futsan Lion Dance’s movement does not represent the movements of an animal. From then on, Master Feng incorporated the movements of the cat into the movements of the Futsan Lion Dance. To adapt to the newly incorporated movements into the Lion Dance, the rhythm of the drum beats were also changed to suit the movements. Later, when he realized that the facial expression of the Futsan Lion does not suit the newly incorporated movements of the lion dance, he decided to give the lion head a new facelift, by changing the shape of its mouth, lips and eyes to make it looks more graceful and elegant, and adaptable to the eight expressions. Thus, after all the alterations and changes .made, a new Lion was created into existence,  the Hoksan Lion. With this creation, Master Feng had earned himself a name, “The King of the Hoksan Lion”. The Hoksan Lion is also known as “The Duck Beak Lion,” and it has a lower forehead, a rounded horn and a duck beak mouth with flat lips.

After many generations, the Hoksan Lion Dance Arts and Crafts were passed down to the hands of Master Xing Yao, Lu (呂新堯) of the Sar Ping (沙坪) school. He had made the Hoksan Sar Ping school spread worldwide. Master Lu went to Singapore to spread the Hoksan Sar Ping school’s teaching to Master Qi Cheng, He (何啟成) and finally, the Hoksan Sar Ping school’s teaching was passed down to the hands of Master Robin Chan (陳紹箕), which is also known as “ The World Drum King”.

Through the recommendations of Master Kwok (郭觀生), the Hoksan Sar Ping Teaching had finally reached Malaysia. Master Ho Piu, Siow (蕭斐弘) obtained the Hoksan Lion Dance Skills through Master Robin Chan in Singapore. Master Siow then Spread the Hoksan Sar Ping School teaching in Malaysia and today he has more than 20 disciples and few hundreds of students learning the Hoksan Lion Dance arts and crafts under the Hoksan Sar Ping School.

There are two different schools of teaching for the Hoksan Lion Dance. The most popular today is the Sar Ping School and many Lion Dance Associations around the globe are adopting the Sar Ping School of teaching. Some of the Teams that are adopting the Sar Ping school around the world are, the world champion, Kun Seng Keng (關聖宮龍獅團) from Malaysia, Khuan Loke (群樂龍獅團) from Malaysia, Tham Pui (譚沛圓龍獅團) from Hong Kong, Khuan Yee (群藝龍獅團) from Australia, Gee Yung (致勇國術龍獅團) from Hawaii  and many more from Indonesia, Brunei and The United States.He Shan Shi


The Futthock Lion (佛鶴獅)

The Futthock Lion was create by the Singaporeans .It has a rounded horn on its head, longer eyes and a pair of semi curved lips. The Futthock Lion was created by combining some of the arts and crafts of the Hoksan and the Futsan Lion together.201161995836373


Jow Ga Lion (周家獅)

There is another Lion called the Zhou Jia Lion or popularly known as Jow Ga Lion in Cantonese. The Jow Ga Lion Dance Style was created by Jow Lung (周龍) and Jow Bui (周彪). Both of them have learnt the Futsan and the Hoksan lion dance style earlier. They were once a student of Master Geng Chang, Feng. However both of them did not complete their learning’s of the Hoksan Lion dance arts under the coaching of Master Feng before they branched out to form their own style of lion dancing. They used back the Futsan and The Hoksan Lion head, but improvised their own style of drum beats and the lion dance’s movements. Thus, they named their creations as Jow Ga, Futsan Lion and Jow Ga Hoksan Lion. The Jow Ga Lion Dance’s movements emphasized mainly on the Chinese martial arts stance and to be able to perform well in the Jow Ga lion dance, the participants must have a good martial arts background.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s