Tsechu Zhanag (Nyer Chig) Cham, Thimphu Tsechu: Day Two [Wide shot]Additional title: Dance of the Black Hats (21 forms)
NamesCore of Culture (Organization) (Producer)Core of Culture (Organization) (Donor)
Bhutan Dance Project, Core of Culture
Dates / OriginDate Created: 2006
Library locationsJerome Robbins Dance DivisionShelf locator: *MGZIDF 925A
TopicsDance -- BhutanFolk dancing -- BhutanDance -- Religious aspects -- BuddhismRites & ceremonies -- BhutanDzongs -- Bhutan -- Thimphu (District)Thimphu (Bhutan : District)Festivals -- BhutanRitual and ceremonial dancing -- BhutanHat dances -- Bhutan
GenresFilmed danceFilmed performances
NotesAdditional physical form: For close shot version, see: *MGZIDF 925B.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-PDBiographical/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 DescriptionBorn digitalExtent: 1 video file (ca. 43 min.) : sound, color
DescriptionThe Choepon begins the day - walking to the centre of the arena and saluting the Je Khenpho - to let him know that all is ready and the dance begins. The Black Hat dances comprise a cycle of sacred Tibetan dances, which are said to have their source in the dance by which the Tibetan monk Llhalung Pel-Ki Dorji sought to distract the anti-Buddhist, Tibetan King, Langdarma, before pulling a bow and arrow from the copious sleeves of his costume and assassinating him in A.D. 842. The dances are performed with the ritual intention of subjugating and destroying evil and are also used as rites to purify the ground on the occasion of the construction and consecration of stupas, temples and dzongs where the wrathful nature of the dance is seen as frightening malevolent spirits away and wresting control of the site back from their power. The colourful costume of the Black Hat dances, comprising a large black hat covered in magical symbols, (hexagrams, lensa glyphs, mirrors, peacock feathers etc.) rich brocade silk gowns, vajra collars (dorji gong) boots, scarves and a particular apron displaying the wrathful face of one of the emanations of Mahakala known as a Thro-Zhey (literally, wrathful face) are completed by a set of ritual implements carried in each hand. These may vary, but most commonly include a phurba attached to scarves held in the right hand, and a skull-cap decorated with cowrie shells held in the left. The costume identifies the black hat dancers as being powerful yogis (sorcerers or magicians) who's origin shades back into more ancient, pre-Buddhist times. The dancers are said to pound the earth with their thunderbolt steps marking out the sacred geometric figure of a mandala on the ground, whilst their hands create mystical gestures or mudra known as gar based upon traditional tantric texts. As the ritual continues, the evil spirits who are present are attracted by the flickering of the scarves and are then captured and held in the linga a torma -surrounded by a triangular case that holds them fast. The climax of the rite sees these evils spirits destroyed by the flashing blade of the phurba wielded by the main dancer, who has entered a state of limitless compassion which is capable of destroying the body of evil at the same time as liberating its spirit. In Bhutan this very sacred dance was performed by the Zhabdrung himself whose wrathful performances of the Zhanag dance are said to have terrified onlookers by the intensity of his execution of this dance. Today these rituals are commemorated at Punakha Drubchen where the chief abbot of the Drukpa school, the Je Khenpho, performs in front of the public dressed in the Black Hat costume. There are many versions of the Black Hat dances, varying from 5 to more than 21 dancers, and the instruments and costumes used will also change depending upon the specific rituals performed.
Type of ResourceMoving image
IdentifiersNYPL catalog ID (B-number): b19935865Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 08946590-f877-0130-c7ae-3c075448cc4b
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