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Chhoe Zhey, Thimphu Tsechu: Final Day, Day Four [Wide shot]

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Chhoe Zhey

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Chhoe Zhey, Thimphu Tsechu: Final Day, Day Four [Wide shot]
Additional title: Dharma Song
Core of Culture (Organization) (Producer)
Core of Culture (Organization) (Donor)

Bhutan Dance Project, Core of Culture

Dates / Origin
Date Created: 2006
Library locations
Jerome Robbins Dance Division
Shelf locator: *MGZIDF 965A
Dance -- Bhutan
Folk dancing -- Bhutan
Dance -- Religious aspects -- Buddhism
Rites & ceremonies -- Bhutan
Dzongs -- Bhutan -- Thimphu (District)
Thimphu (Bhutan : District)
Festivals -- Bhutan
Ritual and ceremonial dancing -- Bhutan
Music and dance
Filmed dance
Filmed performances
Additional physical form: For close shot version, see: *MGZIDF 965B.
Content: Programme for the Masked Dances at the Thimphu Tsechu, Day Four (Oct. 4, 2006): Pa Cham - The Dance of the Heroes ; Durdag - Dance of the Four Lords of the Charnel Grounds ; Ging Tang Tsholing - Dance of the Ging and Tsholing ; Guru Tshengye - Eight Mainifestations of Guru Rinpoche ; Rig Nga Chudru Nga-Chui Cham - Dance of the Sixteen Fairies with Drums ; Rig Nga Chudru Pachu Gi Cham - Dance of the Sixteen Fairies with hand-drums and bells ; Chhoe Zhey - Dharma Song.
Venue: Videotaped in performance at the Trashichhodzong, in Thimphu, Bhutan (looking down from first floor window to the extreme left of the Je Khenpo's position in the zari. This position looks across the diagonal towards the entrance and exit pavilion), on Oct. 4, 2006.
Acquisition: Gift; Core of Culture. NN-PD
Biographical/historical: History of Trashi Chho Dzong: In 1216, Lama Gyalwa Lhanangpa built the Dho-Ngon (blue stone) Dzong on a hill above Thimphu where Dechenphodrang now stands. When Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal came to Bhutan in the 17th century, the followers of Lama Gyalwa Lhanangpa were completely crushed, and the Dho-Ngon Dzong fell into the hands of Zhabdrung. In 1641 Zhabdrung rebuilt the Dho-Ngon Dzong and named it Tashicho Dzong (Fortress of the auspicious religion). In 1694 it was enlarged by the 4th Desi Tenzin Rabgye. During the reign of the 5th Desi, Gedun Chophel, in 1698, the Dzong caught fire and was restored. The 10th Desi, Mipham Wangpo, built the Kagyu Lhakhang inside the Tasshicho Dzong. In 1747 the Dong was enlarged at the initiative of the 13th Desi, Chogyal Sherab Wangchuk. During the reign of the 6th Desi, Sonam Lhendup, and the 13th Je Khenpo, Yonten Thaye, the Dzong caught fire for a second time. The two then proposed to move it from Dhechenphodrang and build a new Dzong at the site of its currant location. In 1777, during the time of the 18th Desi, Jigme Singye, the Kunrey (assembly hall of the monks) in the Dzong was renovated by the 25th Desi, Pema Cheda, in 1807. Phurgyal, during his tenure as the 32nd Desi, added the Di Tsang Lhakhang in 1826 and installed many new statues. In 1869 the Dzong once again caught fire, during the time of the 47th Desi. The Dzong was extensively repaired. The 52nd Desi, Kitshelpa Dorji Namgyal, built the Lamai Lhakhang and the Mithrugpa Lhakhang. He also installed a statue of Mithrugpa (Akshobya), facing west. The Guru Lhakhang was built by the Thimphu Dzongpon, Kunzang Thinley, in 1886, under the direction of Karmapa Khachab Dorji. The Lhakhang houses images of Guru Nangsi Zilnon (complete triumph over all illusory appearances, or the great subjugator), the Guru Tshengye (eight manifestations of Guru Padmasambhava) and the Gongdue Lhatshog (images of Abhipraya Samaja). His late Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuk took the initiative of renovating the Dzong in 1962. The entire Dzong was rebuilt in traditional fashion, without nails or written plans. The overall renovation works were overseen by Zopen Parpa Yodsel. Seven years later, in 1969, corresponding to the Earth Bird Year, the Dzong was consecrated by Je Khenpo Thri Zur Thinley Lhendup, and Dorji Lopon Nyizer Tulku. In 2002 a newly built Neten Chudrug (16 arhats, those who had extinguished all defilements) Thongdrol was consecrated and added to Trashicho Dzong by His Holiness the Je Khenpo. The Thongdrol depicting the Buddha Shakyamuni is surrounded by the 16 arhats. The Thongdrol is unveiled to the public annually on the 15th day of the 4th month of the Bhutanese calendar, coinciding with the Duechen Ngazom (Lord Buddha s Mahaparinivana) celebration. In the past, the National Assembly met within the Dzong. Today it houses the secretariat, throne room, and offices of the king of Bhutan. The northern portion is the summer residence of the Je Khenpo and the Central Monastic Body.
Biographical/historical: The annual Thimphu Tshechu takes place over four days at end of September to commemorate the birth anniversary of Guru Rinpoche on the 10th Day of the Eighth Month. These days equate to the 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th days of the Eighth Month. According to the tradition of Lama Gongdue, the annual Thimphu Tshechu, introduced in 1670 in the eighth month of the Bhutanese calendar during the reign of the fourth Desi, Tenzin Rabgye (1638-1696).
Physical Description
Born digital
Extent: 1 video file (22 min.) : sound, color
The word Zhey is a Tibetan term which refers to both song and dance together. The story is told of the Founder of the Drukpa Kagyu sect, Tshangpa Jarey who wanted to build a Drukpa temple, but discovered a demon (in the form of a tortoise) who was frustrating and destroying the work. He created a song/dance - known as Choe Zhey, in which he claimed to be the son of Pelden Drukpa - and therefore unbeatable - and the performance of this song vanquished the demon tortoise, allowing the temple to be properly completed. Historically this is the first example of a Zhey. In Bhutan the first recorded example of Zhey is linked to the arrival in 1616, of the Zhabdrung, Ngawang Namgyel, as he escaped from Tibet and moved south to set up his own Drukpa school there. Arriving in the northern region of Gasa (adjoining Tibet) he was met and welcomed by the local people, who performed Zhey as a tribute song to the exalted lama. This first performance in Gasa, known as Goen Zhey (after a region called Goen) stands as the origin of all other regional variations in Bhutan. Other places where particular variants are performed include Wang Zhey (Thimphu); Wachupi Zhey (Paro); Nubi Zhey (Trongsa) (which four examples are taught as part of the RAPA syllabus - cf. Zhey Rup - the History of Zhey [Dzongkha publication], publ. RAPA). Other forms of Zhey continue to the present, including the Zhey dances of Ngangbi, (Bumthang) Kabjisa Zhey (Punakha) etc. whereas several forms of Zhey are no longer remembered or performed - Do Zhey (Paro) Kawang Zhey (Thimphu) etc. Zhey dancers wear special head-gear - a form of wreath - known as Thoe, which symbolises that the dancer is no ordinary person, but is a mahasiddi or a mystic who has developed special powers. Each group tends to have different colours of Thoe, and these colours have various meanings. Choe Zhey is normally performed at the end of a festival prior to the Tashi Lebe (final dance) because its last section is marked by an explicit conclusion There are three important positions amongst the Zheypa: the Champoen, who leads the dance; the Yangpoen, who follows him and leads the song, and the Jugpoen who comes at the end of the line. Each of them carries a distinguishing khadar or white scarf. Anthony's brother has the following information: A poignant survival in this category of auxiliary dances is Chözhé (dharma song) the dance of the old monastic bodyguard of the Drukpa. It is supposed to be based on an incident in the life of the sect s founder when he countered the supernatural forces opposing his journey to open up the pilgrim route to the sanctuary of Tsari in eastern Tibet. The slow and stately gestures of stylized subjugation performed in perfect union by laymen dressed as warrior monks seem to convey something of the essence of the Bhutanese tradition, which has always striven for harmony between its secular and spiritual ideals.
Type of Resource
Moving image
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b19940530
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 0014d040-f875-0130-c0f4-3c075448cc4b
Copyright Notice
Core of Culture
Rights Statement
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Item timeline of events

  • 2006: Created
  • 2013: Digitized
  • 2023: Found by you!
  • 2024

MLA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Chhoe Zhey" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 2006.

Chicago/Turabian Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Chhoe Zhey" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed September 30, 2023.

APA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. (2006). Chhoe Zhey Retrieved from

Wikipedia Citation

<ref name=NYPL>{{cite web | url= | title= (moving image) Chhoe Zhey, (2006)|author=Digital Collections, The New York Public Library |accessdate=September 30, 2023 |publisher=The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations}}</ref>

Chhoe Zhey