Performers act out the lion dance of Xihuamen [Photo/Taiyuan.gov.cn]
The lion dance of Xihuamen, which has been popular around Xihuamen Street in Taiyuan since the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, is a unique type of lion dance with strong local characteristics.
Lion dance performances on Xihuamen Street are typically divided into 10 plays. What distinguishes them from other types of lion dances are the unique play of "a lioness giving birth to a lion cub".
The costumes and parts of the lion, particularly the head and skin, are different from those used in other regions. The lion head prop is first mounted onto a shell using paper and brocade, and is then decorated with oil paint; the lion skin costume is woven with dyed rattan shavings.
In the 20th century, Zhang Bi, a folk artist living in the city's Xihuamen Street developed the current lion dance based on local lion dance skills used in the past and added a number of local folk customs.
The tradition was on the verge of extinction last century, with no performances taking place for four decades, but Taiyuan Folk Literature and Art group came to the rescue in 2008 by training new artists to do the dance.