Thursday, February 11, 2016

How to interpret the Nian

You know you look at the nian and you go, of course that's a mythical creature. Of course Chinese people back in the day were like, "It's a lion."



But in terms of mythical creatures, the Nian is not that crazy. I mean if you look at bones of mammals that used to roam the earth, even within human history, the Nian is not that far off.



I also also amazed to see a beast show up on a seal in England for the Frankenstein chronicles. The beast had bulls horns and a lion face and was in a kei lun bo type of pose. Did it look exactly like a Lion Head? Well you have to notice that the different styles of lion heads look very different from each other anyway.





Not surprisingly this beast in a BBC show located on the set of a Christian monastery was meant to be evil. In the legend the Nian isn't necessarily evil. It's just doing it's thing, and most stories have it good at the end. And most teams doing the dance (I think) are representing the good creature that is blessing businesses.



But a lot of spectators have come up to me to ask questions (the white guy is approachable to white people. Chances are I speak English) and they always assume it is more like Halloween and that the monster is threatening to destroy business and that the lettuce and oranges are feeding it like a pay off.



I correct them... but technically I have no idea what the original meaning was. I even suspect they might be kind of right in that first reaction. But for us. (and again I believe for other teams as well) . Our heads.. are noble creatures blessing everyone and  scaring the evil Nian away. (which is just another type of the same animal really even though some stories try to distance what we hold on our heads from it)



So.. the beast all the way over in England that looks like the Nian... is there something to that? Is there actually a shared story? I've heard that the Chinese Lion Dance is actually from Pre-Islamic Persia's Nervez.



I also thought about how you'd have to stretch it to actually believe that an actual Nian invaded a village and wrought havoc. (Though Tigers were always a fear... I'll blog about the Tiger Fork Tomorrow)



But when you think of the Nian monster as blight that causes crop failure.. or perhaps a sickness that wipes out a village... that happiness all the time, and the beast could be a mythical embodiment of the unseen (you know before microscopes and understanding of germs) phenomenon. I mean it's what other cultures do right?



I guess I only bring it up because Noah has strep (which you can also call Scarlet Fever)



I posted about it on Kung Fu Dad.



Kung Fu Dad: Strep Rash: Noah had a rash the other day, and I thought it was an allergic reaction. I was pretty quick to blame the Chinese New Year candy... because ...



And I think I pretty much get sick every year around this time... which makes you understand the "Sun Tai Geen Hong!" phrase in another light.. and honestly that is the most important wish because if you are a millionaire you can still be miserable with a cold. But while you don't always associate poor with happy, some healthy Monk or hermit , you know like Buddha, they seem just fine without the money as long as they have health.



Well Sun Tai Geen Hong everyone!
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