A Historic Moment to Remember

About three Fridays ago, Pehin Goh launched a pictorial book entitled 'A Historic Moment to Remember’ a book that was commemorating the Chinese New Year celebrations at the ICC which was attended by His Majesty and members of the royal family earlier this year. I read in BB that I can get hold of the book for free and finally managed to get hold of it yesterday. When I looked through the photographs, I remembered blogging about the celebrations. It was in my earlier days as a new blogger and my entry on spaces.msn actually focused more on the Lion Dance and I managed to insert some information about the lions as well:

I was among the crowd at the New Year gathering held by the Brunei Chinese Chamber of Commerce at the ICC where His Majesty was the Guest of Honour. Admittedly it was a grand spectacle and one of the performances was a Lion Dance. Lion Dances are one of the things that can raise my heartbeats. When I was very young, I must have been scared and till now, even the sound of the drum beats is enough to steer me away if I happen to stumble upon it. Yesterday, I had no choice, I had to sit and bear it.

I remembered a Jackie Chan movie where Jackie played the lion and did all sorts of acrobatic manouvers. I can't recall the title of the movie but I remembered just how interesting the moves were. Yesterday's performance was nowhere near as good as that. Though I was impressed enough to realise just how much work is involved. In addition to moving around vigorously, the lead dancer must also bring life to the lion by manipulating its mouth, eyes, and ears and that require special skills. He must also operate from an uncomfortable, low crouched position, and follow each movement of the lead dancer.

Interestingly if you look closely, the 'lions' don't really look like their counterparts in the jungle. Why is that? I was told that first of all, there are no lions native to China. So, the lion in the dance is actually based on a mythological animal. According to legend, the Lion Dance was developed to combat a demon-like creature which had brought havoc and destruction to a rice farming community. In order to frighten their evil enemy away, the villagers constructed an awesome-looking figure, which they called a Lion. Their efforts were successful and down the years the Lion Dance became a symbol of good luck and to chase away evil spirits.

Yesterday, there were 6 multicoloured lions. Apparently the color of the lion indicates its age. A multicolored lion with a long white beard, for instance, represents a mature lion. It indicates age, respect, and a tranquil nature. The Black Lion, however, is a young animal, representing youth, aggressiveness, and vitality - a fighting Lion. Lion dance groups in China are actually made up of members of Kung Fu schools. In fact the lion dance competition in the Jackie Chan movie was based on kung fu schools competing against one another. An annual lion dance tournament in Hongkong which Brunei entered is also organised by the Hongkong Martial Arts Association.

So, lion dancers are not as innocent as they look. Those people doing the lion dances have to be good martial arts specialists. Bear that in mind the next time you feel like making disparaging remarks about sissy dancers.

Anyway, the book contained not just the Lion Dance photographs but also many other photographs of interest to the Brunei Chinese Community especially those who were present during the celebrations at ICC last February. It is available for free from Sunlit in Gadong. All I did was to call them and they asked me to come collect it. I don't know how many are available, but free books are hard to get and this one may go fast as well. This is also a historic book as it is the first time in history that His Majesty attended a Chinese New Year Get-Together here in Brunei Darussalam.


Anonymous said…
Thanks for the info.

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