The difference between the Hakka lion and the dancing lion


The Hakka lion dance is a niche dance in Malaysia and is not as well-known as the Southern Lion (Dancing Lion). Therefore, the Hakka Lion is not well known or even heard of in Malaysian society. However, the mysterious and legendary Hakka lion culture is well preserved at the Johore Hopo Cultural Museum in Kulai, Johor.

Goh Kok Man, president of Persatuan Ho Po Negeri Johor, said in "Our Native Land", "There are two types of Hakka Lion (Hopo Lion), which are the symbolic lion and acrobatic lion. The green lion on display in the museum is an acrobatic lion, with the character for 'king' engraved on the forehead and its mouth is a wide, square design. When the lion dances, its mouth will make a “popping” sound, demonstrating its strength and majestic demeanour. 

Another feature of the Hopo lion is the monkey-faced doll, with the wearer of the monkey-faced mask holding a rattan shield as a defence.”

Apart from the rarely seen Hopo lion, the Hakka also have the Jing lion. Chong Khoon Quck, president of the Hakka Association Johor Bahru, pointed out, "The Hakka people came down from the north, so the Hakka lion is called the Northern lion. Generally speaking, the kind of lion you see on stilts and Cai Qing is called the Southern Lion."

He added that the most significant difference between Northern lions and Southern lions is that Northern lions are stage lions, and its main movements are tumbling, rolling, climbing, jumping, and leaping, with acrobatics involved.

"They are joyful lions, and their drumbeats are different, we call them Jing cymbals and drums; the drum score of the Northern Lions is completely different from the Southern Lions, which is more energetic, while the northern lion's is joyful. In addition, the northern lions are not as big as the southern lions."

"Another auspicious mythological creature worshipped by the Hakka people is the Qilin. Hakka people believe that the Qilin brings good luck and fortune, and can also drive away evil spirits. Hakka people have a saying, “when the world is at peace, the Qilin dances”. This means that the Qilin appears when the world is at peace. Basically, the Qilin will only appear during big occasions and when worshipping the heaven, earth and ancestors.”


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