The concept of portraying a lion’s age was first mentioned to me several years ago. At the time, it didn’t appeal to me greatly, so I just hid the concept in the back of my head. But after the Hoi Gong ceremony for Chris Low’s newly restored lion, the concept suddenly sparked into my mind again as I watched Yogi Tam, Vincent Chan, and a younger member playing with the lion head. If incorporated correctly and creatively, portraying a lion’s age would be an impressive aspect of a performance.
We all know that our hair turns white as we grow older. The concept of a lion’s age is based off of this – a black-haired lion is young, while a white-haired lion is old. Notice that I said hair, not fur. In my opinion, lion heads with ram fur or other types of fluffy fur all look about the same age. On the other hand, white-bristle haired lions tend to look older then black-bristle haired lions. With that said, it would be proper for a black-haired lion head to be portrayed as young and energetic, while a white-haired lion should be portrayed as wise and civilized.
A black-haired lion’s movements should be fast, powerful, energetic, “wild”, snappy, etc. The video below shows these descriptions. The first person (up to 7 seconds) is a younger member of The Immortals team, while the second person is Vincent Chan.
Since lion dancing is a form of storytelling, the appearance of both a black-haired lion and a white-haired lion in a performance would be greatly enhanced with the additional detail in portraying the lion’s age. If incorporated well, the full story can be told with a new dimension.