Southern Chinese lion dance portrays the Nian

According to Chinese mythology, a Nian (simplified Chinese: 年兽; traditional Chinese: 年獸; pinyin: nián shòu) is a beast that lives under the sea or in the mountains. Once each spring, on or around Chinese New Year, it comes out of hiding to attack people, and prefers children. Weaknesses of the Nian are purported to be a sensitivity to loud noises, and a fear of the colour red. The Chinese Lion Dance is known to have originated from the legend of the Nian. The tradition has its origins in a story of a Nian's attack on a village. After the attack, the villagers discussed how to make the Nian leave them in peace. The traditions of firecrackers and red robes found in many Lion Dance portrayals originates from the plans the villagers had in which drums, plates and empty bowls were hit, red robes were worn, and firecrackers were thrown, causing loud banging sounds that they hoped to intimidate the Nian. According to this same myth, the Nian has not appeared in the village again. The Nian is still believed to exist; however, it is not believed to ever make an appearance to a human again - a result of the successful plan.


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • nian — ar·se·nian; au·so·nian; ba·co·nian·ism; bee·tho·ve·nian; berg·so·nian·ism; bri·tan·nian; buf·fa·lo·nian; caed·mo·nian; ca·to·nian; cax·to·nian; cen·o·ma·nian; cic·e·ro·nian·ism; cic·e·ro·nian·ist; dar·da·nian; em·er·so·nian; es·se·le·nian;… …   English syllables

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