Crafting Lion’s head
"Lion Dance" is a kind of traditional performing arts in East Asian regions. It can be found in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia etc. The lion heads in different places have different characteristics. Since lion, dragon and kirin are symbols of luck and fortune, with the power of blessing people and getting rid of the evil spirits, performing the lion dance becomes an important part of celebrations, such as the Lunar New Year, the Cheung Chau Da Jiu Festival and more, to add joyful spirit and for auspicious blessings.
Traditionally, there are mainly 3 kinds of lion heads: the "Liu Guan Zhang". "Zhang Fei" lion is normally in black, "Guan Yu" lion is in red, and "Liu Bei" lion is in yellow. When dancing with these three kinds of lions, the movements should also match the characters of Zhang, Guan and Liu. For example, when dancing with "Zhang Fei" lion, the performer should dance with strength and intensity to showcase the bravery of Zhang. Nowadays, there are less constraints on the designs of the modern lion heads. For example, craftsmen can use denim or other modern fabrics, or even decorate the lion heads with sparkling materials to spice up the traditional art.
Hong Kong used to produce the best lion heads in the world, renowned for our delicate craftsmanship. Due to cultural difference, the lion heads produced in different places would differ in style, design and dance! For examples, Taiwanese lion heads are produced in moulds, instead of bamboo frames, while Malaysian lion heads are more adorable so they are more attractive to children.
To make a Crafted Lion head
A good lion head should be sturdy and durable. For example, the bamboo raft used in the lion head should be smooth-shaved with a knife, to reduce the chance of the bamboos breaking the paper on top.
For the shape of the lion head, the proportion of it should be correct, so it shows a mighty look. Nowadays, as young people will get to experience lion dances at schools and try difficult movements, the lion head should be lighter than the traditional version.
1. "Zha" (Tying): Use a knife to break the bamboo into thin strips. Twist the bamboo strip into a circular shape and gradually build into the frame of the lion head. Secure the intersections of the bamboo strips with sandpaper and the skin of bambook.
2. "Pu" (Covering): With diluted paste, stick thin paper onto the frame. Wrap the edges carefully to make sure that there are no wrinkles on the papers.
3. "Xie" (Writing/Drawing): With a Chinese writing brush, paint patterns of different colors. Apply water onto the patterns to slightly blend the colors for a gradient effect.
4. "Zhuang" (Decorating): After the paints are dried, adorn the lion head with pom poms, ruffles or other bright-colored decorations. The lion head is now complete!
Hui Ka Hung
Though Master Hui Ka Hung is only 40 years old, he already has more than 30 years of experience in paper crafting! This is because Master Hui has a passion in lion dances that he began self-learning the art of crafting a lion head at the age of 6.
Throughout the years, Master Hui has seen the rise and fall of the paper crafting industry in Hong Kong and he holds onto the belief that the art of crafting lion heads is worth passing on. He established his own workshop “Hung C Lau” to prove that paper crafting has more than practical use in the Chinese culture, but also has its special artistic values. In 2018, Master Hui was invited to create a paper-craft dragon for the Golden Dragon Museum in Australia - this 120m-long dragon with over 7,000 handmade scales will soon be the longest imperial dragon in the world.