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Monday, October 5, 2009

Who is that Happy Guy in the Lion Dance?

For those of you who watch lion dances (maybe you've seen one yesterday) sometimes there's this happy Chinese guy in an ever-smiley mask that walks/ struts/ celebrates with the lion.

Who is this guy anyway?

Some call the smiling man the Dai To Fut or Big Buddha Head. In the Traditional Southern Style of Lion Dancing, the Dai To Fut tames or lures the lion with weapons, such as a fan, a rake, or a horsewhip.

In other versions, this guy is also called the "Laugh Monk." One of the legends tell of a village in China terrorized by a lion. The people didn't know what to do about the lion, so they asked a Buddhist monk for help. The monk was able to tame the lion and it is said the lion eventually became the the protector of the village.

Nice story, eh.

For the northern style of lion dancing, the one for entertainment, the masked dancers are also called "Happy People." They tease, play with or help the lion get its food.

There is also a version of the legend wherein the villagers, to scare the lion in return, brought out their pots and pans and made a lot of noise. The noise was effective in scaring the lion away.

I guess this is where the cool lion dance music came from :-)

More pictures :

If anyone knows the other versions of Chinese legends regarding the lions and the Dai to Fut, please do share with us.


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