There are many variants of the Lion Dance throughout Asia, including main land China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan and other countries. The Lion Dance in China can be roughly categorized into Northern and Southern. Lions consist of paper mache heads with the body being of fabric. The body as well as the head is also decorated with fur, feathers, and decorative paint. The Chinese Lion Dance is most usually done by two people per lion, unlike the Chinese Dragon Dance that can have ten or more people per Dragon.
The Northern Dance originated as entertainment for the imperial court. The Northern Lion is very shaggy and can be orange, red, yellow, or a combination of these colors. The Northern Dance is very acrobatic and is done mainly for entertainment. The Northern Dance many times depicts pairs of lions, sometimes a family of two large and two small lions.
The Southern Dance is more often performed as a ceremony to prevent evil and for good luck. The Southern Lion displays a wide variety of colors. It also usually has a mirror on the center of the forehead, very large eyes and a horn at the center of the head.
The Lion Dance has developed a close relationship to the martial arts, specifically Kung Fu. Many Lion Dance troupes consist of members of Kung Fu clubs that practice the dance very hard to gain athleticism and proficiency.
This short essay only scratches the surface of the beauty, customs and variety of The Lion Dance, a centuries old part of Asian culture.