Malaysia, China Nominate Lion Dance For UNESCO Recognition

Lion Dance is an artistic and cultural tradition in both Malaysia and China, and recently, the two nations joined forces to nominate it for inscription on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Malaysia China Nominate Lion Dance For UNESCO Recognition
China's masked dance tradition dates back over 5,000 years, with roots in ancient animal and beast performances. The exact origin of Lion Dance is debated, but it flourished during the Han Dynasty (205 BCE - 220 CE), peaking in the Tang Dynasty (716-907 CE) for religious festivals. Though not native to China, lions arrived via the Silk Road, inspiring the dance that spread to Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia, each developing their own variations.
Lion dance performers Credit Canva
Lion dance performers. Credit: Canva
And now Malaysia and China have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on cooperation in tourism and the Executive Programme of Cultural Exchange Agreement 2024 to 2029, which was finalised during the official visit of Chinese Premier Li Qiang to Malaysia. As per reports, the MoU was signed by Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing and China's Ambassador to Malaysia, Ouyang Yujin, in the presence of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Premier Li. Malaysia has also been made a member of the Alliance for Cultural Heritage in Asia.

All About Lion Dance Of China, Malaysia

Lions, revered for their strength and majesty, were seen as symbols of good luck and fortune. Lion Dance performances were believed to ward off evil spirits and usher in prosperity, especially on Chinese New Year. Chinese immigrants brought the tradition to Malaysia, where it was embraced and incorporated into local customs. Today, the Lion Dance is a prominent feature of Malaysian celebrations, performed at festivals, cultural events, and business openings.
Credit Canva
Credit: Canva
In the dance, two performers wear a single lion costume, made of lightweight materials and brightly coloured fabric. The head of the lion is decorated with expressive features, and the body is often adorned with scales and a flowing mane. The performers bring the lion to life with synchronised movements, mimicking a lion's walk, pounces, and head shakes. The dance is often accompanied by rhythmic drumming, cymbals, and gongs, creating a celebratory atmosphere. It is quite similar in essence to dragon dances prevalent in southeast Asia.
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