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___ Nian (Nian Shou)

Chinese New Year Legend of Nian (sometimes Nien, traditional Chinese: 年獸; simplified Chinese: 年兽; pinyin: nián shòu).
 

Nian

According to a Chinese legend a terrible monster (pictured sometimes with features of a lion, unicorn, and ox), a really giant, monstrous creature by the name of ‘Nian’ lived in the mountains and would come down at the end of the year to destroy the fields, crops and animals and to terrorize people or even kill them all.

The terrified people called the beast Nian (年, nian actually is the Chinese word for 'year').
But by and by the villagers discovered that the monster was frightened by loud noises, bright lights, and the color red.

To prevent the Nian to play havoc with the land, the villagers made a fearful model of the animal out of bamboo, paper, and cloths; within two fearless men to animate the image. On New Year's eve they waited for the monster. When it was time, they sent in their own four legged beast, and accompanied by the furious beating of drums, cymbals and gongs, and the heavily use of firecrackers, they were able to chase the Nian away. For this reason, the Nian dance is performed annually on Chinese New Year's eve, and because the dance, now known as lion dance is thought to be so helpful or auspicious or both, it is performed on a lot more occasions.

Now you know the reasons why Chinese New Year has many loud fire crackers, bright fireworks and red lanterns, lion dance performances, and the color red is seen everywhere to scare the beast away.

Lion Dance MasksThe masks and the costumes of the lion dance may represent the Nian.
Image: © nationsonline.org

 


 

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