Wanhua 萬華

Lion Dance

Where to see lion dances: Chinese New Year, temple celebrations, store openings, third month of the Lunar calendar

The Lion Dance has slowly modified to become a fun spectacle during Chinese New Years and increasingly less valued as a cultural tradition. One teacher in Wanhua wants to change that thought and works with the local community to educate students young and old about the significance of the Lion Dance.

Teacher Gao (高文亮老師)
Teacher Gao (高文亮老) made clay lion masks for children to paint on while telling them legends about the lion. Slowly he was able to attract the attention of the children’s parents and spread the word to inform the community. He also teaches how to make life sized lion masks at the Wanhua Community College, hoping to pass on the skills he learnt from his master.

There are certain features of lion masks such as the three “mountains”, the mouth and the bagua symbol. The three “mountains” are the three bumps on the lion’s face including the forehead, the nose and the chin. The four corners of the mouth represent the oceans and the bagua symbol is to fight away demons.

Different explanations are told about the origin of the lion but the one he told us was that one evening the empress dreamed of the lion and drew it out. Then she ordered her servants to find the creature and they found the lion in the wild. Lion dance used to be a spectacle enjoyed exclusively in the Chinese emperor’s palace but slowly become a part of the local peoples’ lives.

So next time you see the lion dance, pay more attention and give thanks to those who are carrying on this tradition.


  1. Thanks for sharing this valuable information!

  2. When i was a kid i really love watching lion dance during CNY.