Notes on Antique Textiles, Folk Art & Timeless Traditions – Jaina Mishra
The boys performing these feats are not professionals. They are students or young working adults who also perform the lion dance…
The main performers of a team are the dancers. The man in front wears the large mask – and leads the moves, while the man at the rear, bends over into an L shape – holding the waist of his partner. Together they take the shape of the lion.
They are accompanied by a a band of drum beaters, cymbal beaters and gong beaters.
The origin is spiritual (not to be mistaken with ‘religious’). As it must always be, for something that pushes the mind and the body beyond the limits of average capability!
Rehearsing teams just before the competition begins….
They perform acrobatic feats on pillars placed in a row of about 30 meters – pillars that are just over 1 foot in diameter and range from 4 feet to 9 feet in height!They defy gravity and the physics of balance and motion – jumping from one pillar to another, almost flying through the air and land on the next set of pillars. It is no wonder that the crowd watches in awed silence, and cheers heartily when a team refuses to fall and stay down, after a slip. Each of their unique movements probably has a story behind it but I am not familiar with the details.
The drumbeats and the magnificent costumes, fill up the senses and create an electric atmosphere. And watchers sit stunned – wondering how the two men can perform all those challenging stunts, even though their vision is limited by the costume and by the physical arrangement of their bodies….