Lion-cat dance of Lang Son Province’s Tay and Nung people

(VEN) - The lion-cat dance is a folk activity, which the Tay and Nung people in the northern mountainous province of Lang Son regard as symbolizing the conquest of natural challenges.

The dance is performed to the sound of drums and cymbals during Tet (Lunar New Year), and on other major occasions, like the Mid-Autumn Festival.

lion cat dance of lang son provinces tay and nung people

In the jungle, a lion was said to be both gentle and fierce. Gentle and good with friends, but when disturbed or attacked, very fierce. It was eventually tamed by humans and became a domestic cat. Ethnic groups started using the face of a cat or a lion's head in their dance performances.

A lion-cat dance troupe consists of 8-16 members, including a head dancer and other members who wear orangutan and monkey masks and carry spikes and short swords, two traditional Nung weapons.

The dance performances during festivals often include martial arts performances with knives, swords, tridents, or sticks. Each dance form is accompanied by a specific melody that guides the performance.

Because the dance is believed to dispel bad luck and bring good luck and peace, families in Lang Son Province often invite a lion-cat dance troupe to perform in front of their house. On those occasions, the dancers are given lucky money, wine, and a red “ka hong” cloth. While performing a martial arts dance, the performers advance toward the head dancer and pass the red “ka hong” cloth from their mouth to the lion's mouth.

A Nung lion-cat dance differs from the lion dance of other ethnic groups in that the lion’s head wears a cat mask and is decorated in red, black, yellow, and green.

Lang Son Province has 90 lion-cat dance troupes with approximately 1,000 members. Since 1992, provincial authorities have been taking steps to preserve and promote this unique art form, which was officially recognized as a national intangible cultural heritage in 2017.

lion cat dance of lang son provinces tay and nung people
lion cat dance of lang son provinces tay and nung people
lion cat dance of lang son provinces tay and nung people
lion cat dance of lang son provinces tay and nung people
Pham Tiep

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