Friday, 8 February 2008
Business enterprises often call upon a lion dance troupe to perform at the commencement of something important. It's a Chinese tradition. (There used to be firecrackers too, but they're banned by the Singapore government as a hazard to the public. So much for tradition.) You find a lion dance performed when a new branch or shop is opened. You see lots of them in the days following Chinese New Year, when shops and factories re-open for business after the holidays. The businessmen want to make sure they give an auspicious start to the new trading period.
Lion dance can be broadly classified into two main categories: traditional and free-style.
The traditional lion dance follows an established set of routines while free-style lion dancers have the liberty to create their own routines – such as performing stunts on metal stilts that can go as high as three metres.
During Chinese New Year, most performances are variations of the traditional style.
The most sought after performance during the festive period is known as “plucking the green.”
Typically, a green leafy vegetable is either hung in the air or placed on the ground for the prop lion to “pluck” and “devour.” Mandarin oranges are placed on the ground for the lion to “devour” as well.
After the lion has “devoured” the vegetable and the oranges, it usually lays on the ground. The performer playing the rear of the lion would have to peel the mandarin oranges and arrange the orange slices to form auspicious Chinese characters. The performer at the rear would then pass the peeled orange skins to his partner playing the head.
Following that, the performer playing the head would then tear the orange peel and vegetable into small pieces and throw them out of the lion’s mouth for a total of three times. As this is considered to be an auspicious ritual, some people refrain from immediately clearing away the pieces of orange skin and vegetable to prevent sweeping away of good luck.
The Lion Dance is a pugilistic performance dating back to more than 1,500 years. Its performance during auspicious occasions such as the launch of new buildings, offices and shops is believed to bring good fortune and wealth. The Lion Dance is also performed during the Chinese New Year because of its association with the legendary stories of a bestial creature, the Nien, being frightened off by villagers banging on loud drums on the eve of Chinese New Year.
The lion is regarded by Chinese communities outside China as a creature representing good omen. However, the legend of Nien began with the lion as a monstrous creature. According to legend, every Chinese New Year's eve, an unknown animal came to destroy the fields, crops and animals belonging to the farmers of the village. They could not identify the beast and named it nien which came to mean "year" in Chinese. To put a stop to the ravaging, the villagers made a fearful model of the animal out of bamboo and paper, with two men manipulating it, accompanied by the loud beating of instruments. They waited for the animal on New Year's eve and succeeded in driving away the Nien. Henceforth, the Nien dance was performed annually on Chinese New Year's eve with drums, cymbals and gongs. Over time, the image of the animal came to look more like a lion and the dance was later regarded as auspicious for all significant occasions.
The dance requires two persons -- one to manipulate the papier-mâché head of the lion while another acts as the hind legs of the lion, both joined by a colourful cloth body. The S$1,000, two-kilogramme lion head is often decorated with a red bow on its horn, silk pom-poms and bells. The fur trimmings around the head is often sheepskin or rabbit fur, never of synthetic materials. The lion head has two eye-holes which allow the lead dancer to see where he is going. Often a dunce in a large mask teases the lion. Aside from spectacular acrobatic stances by the lion, the performers' co-ordination in bringing lifelike movements to the lion adds to the success of the dance. A troupe of musicians accompanies the lion dancers, playing cymbals and drums. Every gesture, from the lifting of a leg to the fluttering of an eyelid is choreographed to a particular beat in the music. Up to eight different stances are performed from happiness, anger, fright, merry-making, suspicion, drunkenness, sleep and wakefulness, with each emotion expressed by a different rhythm. Lion dancers belong to a guild or association and each guild worships a particular deity or heavenly patron.
more detailed information on the lion dance can be found here:
and the celebrations of Chinese New Year in Singapore here:
The Lion was going around the front of the building in this image, towards the car park.
This image is of the Lions at the back of the pool area going past all the BBQ's....... the Lion Dance was performed around the complete Condo, carpark and pool areas.
This image is of everyone standing around waiting for them to enter the lobby!
also read previous posting below.
There were 9 musicians and three lions, it really was quite facinating to watch and to listen of course.....my ears are still ringing!!!
Apartments at the condo needed their homes to be 'blessed' as well so they started at the top floor (30th level) and worked their way down to the lobby area....after that the Lions went around the condo, the car parks and around the pool area ...... every area of our condo was covered!!!!!!
Will post more photos and information...this one is only to explain about the Lion itself.... note the "gold coins" in front of him...... we were given these chocolate coins by management and then the children tossed the coins into the Lions' mouth. Obviously a lot fell on the floor!
The lion head has two eye-holes which allow the lead dancer to see where he is going. Often a dunce in a large mask teases the lion. Aside from spectacular acrobatic stances by the lion, the performers' co-ordination in bringing lifelike movements to the lion adds to the success of the dance.
The dance requires two persons -- one to manipulate the papier-mâché head of the lion while another acts as the hind legs of the lion, both joined by a colourful cloth body. The S$1,000, two-kilogramme lion head is often decorated with a red bow on its horn, silk pom-poms and bells. The fur trimmings around the head is often sheepskin or rabbit fur, never of synthetic materials.
A troupe of musicians accompanies the lion dancers, playing cymbals and drums. Every gesture, from the lifting of a leg to the fluttering of an eyelid is choreographed to a particular beat in the music. Up to eight different stances are performed from happiness, anger, fright, merry-making, suspicion, drunkenness, sleep and wakefulness, with each emotion expressed by a different rhythm.
Lion dancers belong to a guild or association and each guild worships a particular deity or heavenly patron.
More info in next post.
Wednesday, 6 February 2008
Yesterday I went for a wander around Chinatown with two of my friends.......mainly to check out the lead-up to tonights festivities.......tonight being Chinese New Year and the start of the New Year being the Year of The Rat!!
There were many stalls selling all the traditional decorating bits and pieces, all of it being very colourful........towards the end of the day most things started to be sold much cheaper as seen here:
Biscuits play a major part of the holiday and these seen here would not be able to fit into a supermarket so are sold on the street outside:
Please read the following on the traditions of Chinese New Year:
The Chinese New Year is incomplete without the elegant and colorful decorations that adorn people's homes during this time. The favorite colors of Chinese New Year decorations are red and gold. Red symbolizes happiness while Gold symbolizes wealth. These two colors are predominant in most Chinese New Year decorations and greeting cards. Doors and windows are often given a fresh coat of red paint on Chinese New Year .People in China adorn their front doors with Chinese decorations and Spring Couplets, which are fragrant with fresh India ink, to give the feeling of life's renewal and the return of spring.
Spring couplets are paper scrolls and squares engraved with blessings and wishes for good fortune, happiness, prosperity, health, wealth and a long life. These Chinese couplets have three pieces, two longer ones vertically hung on each side of door, and one shorter one horizontally hung on the top of the door.
Paintings of various such themes are also put up to adorn their homes with a festive look. In addition, the Chinese New Year decorations also include embellishing their doors or windows with auspicious Chinese New Year Children Figures, usually one boy and one girl, opposite each other. They both hold “Lucky” signs and are the symbols of “Good Luck” for the Chinese New Year .
Prior to New Year's Day, Chinese families decorate their living rooms with vases of pretty blossoms, platters of oranges and tangerines and a candy tray with eight varieties of dried sweet fruit. On walls and doors are poetic couplets, happy wishes written on red paper. These messages sound better than the typical fortune cookie messages. For instance, "May you enjoy continuous good health" and "May the Star of Happiness, the Star of Wealth and the Star of Longevity shine on you" are especially positive couplets.
Every traditional Chinese household should also have live blooming plants to symbolize rebirth and new growth. Flowers are believed to be symbolic of wealth and high positions in one's career. Lucky is the home with a plant that blooms on New Year's Day, for that foretells a year of prosperity. In more elaborate settings, plum blossoms just starting to bloom are arranged with bamboo and pine sprigs, the grouping symbolizing friends &endash; the plum blossom also signifies reliability and perseverance; the bamboo is known for its compatibility, its utility and its flexible stems for furniture and other articles;the evergreen pine evokes longevity and steadiness. Other highly prized flowers are the pussy willow,azalea, peony and water lily or narcissus.
The Chinese firmly believe that without flowers, there would be no formation of any fruits. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to have flowers and floral decorations.
They are the emblems of reawakening of nature, they are also intimately connected with superstition and with the wish for happiness during the ensuing year.
Etiquette dictates that you must bring a bag of oranges and tangerines and enclose a lai see when visiting family or friends anytime during the two-week long Chinese New Year celebration. Tangerines with leaves intact assure that one's relationship with the other remains secure. For newlyweds, this represents the branching of the couple into a family with many children. Oranges and tangerines are symbols for abundant happiness.
The candy tray arranged in either a circle or octagon is called "The Tray of Togetherness" and has a dazzling array of candy to start the New Year sweetly. After taking several pieces of candy from the tray, adults places a red envelope (lai see) on the center compartment of the tray. Each item represents some kind of good fortune.
Sunday, 3 February 2008
PETRONAS TOWERS - night time 2
Originally uploaded by Leone Fabre.
Last week I went to KL (Kuala Lumpur) with a friend to do some shopping...... KL has some wonderful architecture including The amazing Petronas Towers as seen here at night.
Skybridge between The Towers.
The towers feature a skybridge (constructed by Kukdong Engineering & Construction) between the two towers on 41st and 42nd floors, which is the highest 2-story bridge in the world. The bridge is 170m above the ground and 58 m long. The same floor is also known as the podium, since visitors desiring to go to higher levels have to change elevators here. The skybridge is open to all visitors, but free passes (limited to 1700 people per day) must be obtained on a first-come, first-served basis. The Skyway is closed on Mondays. Visitors are allowed to go only on the 41st floor as the 42nd floor is used only by the tenants of the building.
The skybridge also acts as a safety device, so that in the event of a fire or other emergency in one tower, tenants can evacuate by crossing the skyway to the other tower. However, the total evacuation triggered by a bomb hoax on September 12, 2001 (the day after the September 11 attacks destroyed the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City) showed that the bridge would not be useful if both towers need to be emptied simultaneously, and the capacity of the staircases was insufficient for such an event. Plans thus call for the elevators to be used if both towers need to be evacuated, and a successful drill following the revised plan was conducted in 2005.