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Dramitse Nga Cham, Thimphu Tsechu: Day Two [Wide shot]

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Dramitse Nga Cham, Thimphu Tsechu: Day Two [Wide shot]

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Dramitse Nga Cham, Thimphu Tsechu: Day Two [Wide shot]
Additional title: Drum Dance of Dramitse
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 929A
Dance -- Bhutan
Folk dancing -- Bhutan
Dance -- Religious aspects -- Buddhism
Rites & ceremonies -- Bhutan
Dzongs -- Bhutan -- Thimphu (District)
Thimphu (Bhutan : District)
Festivals -- Bhutan
Rites and ceremonies -- Bhutan
Ritual and ceremonial dancing -- Bhutan
Drum dances -- Bhutan
Filmed dance
Filmed performances
Additional physical form: For close shot version, see: *MGZIDF 929B.
Content: Programme for the Masked Dances at the Thimphu Tsechu, Day Two (Oct. 2, 2006): Zhanag Cham - Dance of the Black Hats (21 forms) ; Zhanag Nga Cham - Dance of the Black Hats with Drums ; Kay Cham (Kye Cham) - Dance of the Noblemen and Noble Ladies ; Pholoy Moley - Dance ; Dramitse Nga Cham - The Drum Dance of Dramitse ; Shawo Shachi Acho Phento - Dance of the Stag and Hounds (Part 2).
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. 2, 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 (66 min.) : sound, color
This is a number of sections performed by RAPA from the much longer Dramitse Ngacham. The Director asked them to perform 10 Sections - but depending on the timing of the whole festival the Champoen, Umzay (cymbals player) and atsaras (messengers who relay information between the two) may shorten the piece by a few sections. The footage needs to be analysed to see how many, and which sections were performed on the day. The Dramitse Nga Cham the Drum Dance of Dramitse is perhaps the most famous dance in the entire country of Bhutan. The Dramitse Nga Cham dates back to the 15th Century, when Ani Chorten Zangmo, of Bumthang, was supposed to marry the son of the Chhokkor Deb. However, she refused to take this path, preferring instead to pursue a spiritual and contemplative life, and so she became a nun. Her uncle, the great Terton Pema Lingpa, gave her a white Conch shell and prophesied that her destiny would lie in that place where the Conch produced its most beautiful sound. The nun set off travelling to the South-east, beyond Kurtoe Aja (a place very sacred to the memory of Guru Rinpoche) until she came to a small Goenpa (or temple) called Dupchu Goenpa in a place that was called Bramitse (the hill where no one lives). On blowing the conch shell there, she produced a most pleasing musical sound, and decided that this would indeed be a favourable place to reside so she renamed the place Dramitse the hill free of enemies (Dra - Dzk. means enemy; Mi - Dzk. means No and Tse - Dzk. means hill. ) The younger brother of Ani Chorten Zangmo, Kunga Gyaltshen (also known as Kunga Nyingpo or Kunga Wangpo) was a learned Lama, who often visualised Guru Rinpoche in his meditations. Through his intense powers of concentration he was able to travel to Zangdo Pelrhi (the Glorious Copper-Coloured Mountain Paradise) which is the abode of Guru Rinpoche. There, on one such visit, the Lama was amazed to see the heavenly attendants of Guru Rinpoche transform themselves into one hundred wrathful and peaceful deities and perform an exquisite dance. In their left hand they held large drums, which they beat with drumsticks held in their right hands as they performed the intricate movements of the dance. The Lama understood that Guru Rinpoche's intention was to demonstrate to him how the medium of dance could be used to deliver very powerful messages to human beings and instruct them about the deeper mysteries of faith. When he returned to Dramitse he was able to compose a simulacrum of the dance he had seen, and he also worked into the composition elements of other drum dances revealed by other great tertons (treasure revealers) such as Sangye Lingpa and Ugyen Lingpa. This was the dance that was performed at the consecration of the Temple eventually built at Dramitse, a few hours walk from the original Dupchu Goenpa. The result was the establishment of the tradition of the Drum Dance of Dramitse, which was, for many centuries only ever performed in Dramitse, the place of its origin, in Mongar Dzongkhag. However, later in the twentieth Century, this famous dance began to spread around the country, as it became a much-favoured item and was introduced to many other religious festivals, as dancers from Dramitse carried it with them and taught it in other places. One of the effects of this rapid distribution was that the original dance which took some three hours to perform and was divided into 21 Sections was never performed in its entirety elsewhere and indeed different and shorter versions began to proliferate with steps and movements diverging from the original. The original version sees sixteen dancers wearing a variety of animal masks including an Owl, a Garuda, (Ja Chung) a Bear, a Leopard and the twelve animals of the Bhutanese horoscope. Each of the dancers carries a drum in his right hand, with the exception of the Champoen (dance leader) who carries a small pair of cymbals which provide timing clues to the other dancers. The original dance also included a fifteen-minute ceremony during which the local people would made offerings of the traditional khadar (white scarf) to the dancers. Core of Culture has so far not had the opportunity to witness the dance performed in Dramitse itself, and the many versions of the Dramitse Drum dance that have been recorded for this database are therefore performed by other groups. However, in early 2007, during a special meeting of the different Peling dance traditions organised by Core of Culture at the Yungdrung Choeling Dzong (a place sacred to the memory of Pema Lingpa) a group of eight dancers from Dramitse, who attended that convention, performed the whole of the original 21-Section version, for the first time ever away from the original courtyard of Dramitse. [There is a single recording of this dance within the Bhutan Dance Access database at BDA 649].
Type of Resource
Moving image
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b19953330
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): bb184010-352a-0131-5830-3c075448cc4b
Copyright Notice
Core of Culture
Rights Statement
This item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).

Item timeline of events

  • 2006: Created
  • 2021: Found by you!
  • 2022

MLA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Dramitse Nga Cham" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 2006.

Chicago/Turabian Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Dramitse Nga Cham" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed January 23, 2021.

APA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. (2006). Dramitse Nga Cham Retrieved from

Wikipedia Citation

<ref name=NYPL>{{cite web | url= | title= (moving image) Dramitse Nga Cham, (2006)|author=Digital Collections, The New York Public Library |accessdate=January 23, 2021 |publisher=The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations}}</ref>

Dramitse Nga Cham