Zhanag Cham, Paro Tsechu, Day One: Inside the DzongAdditional 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: 2005
Library locationsJerome Robbins Dance DivisionShelf locator: *MGZIDF 824
TopicsDance -- BhutanFolk dancing -- BhutanDance -- Religious aspects -- BuddhismRites & ceremonies -- BhutanBuddhist demonology -- BhutanDzongs -- Bhutan -- Paro (District)Festivals -- BhutanParo (Bhutan : District)Ritual and ceremonial dancing -- BhutanHat dances -- BhutanSpirit dances -- Bhutan
GenresFilmed danceFilmed performances
NotesContent: Paro Tsechu Programme Day One: Goma Rabsel Courtyard, Inside the Dzong: Shinjey Yab Yum - Dance of the Lord of Death and his Consort ; Durdag - Lords of the Charnel Grounds ; Zhanag - Dance of the Black Hats ; Dramitse Nga Cham - The Drum Dance of Dramitse ; Degey - Dance of the Eight (Kinds of) Spirits ; Chhoe Zhey - Religious Song.Venue: Videotaped in performance at the Goma Rabsel inner courtyard, Paro Dzong, in Paro, Bhutan (ground level), on Mar. 21, 2005.Acquisition: Gift; Core of Culture. NN-PDBiographical/historical: The annual Paro Tshechu is held from the 9th till the 15th of the 2nd month every year. It was first introduced by Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye in 1687, while the tshechu was initially held in the dzong, after the reconstruction in 1906 it was held outside. The highlight of the tshechu is the Thongdol which is believed to deliver from all sins. The Thongdol that was saved from the fire of 1906 was built by Lama Nawang Rabgay and is considered one of the oldest in Bhutan. It was slightly renovated by the government about twenty years ago. The material for the Thongdol was brought from Lhasa in Tibet.Biographical/historical: The history of Ringpung Dzong (Palace of the heap of jewels) or Paro Dzong: The construction of the Paro Dzong began in 1644 on the order of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the unifier of modern day Bhutan. Unlike most of the other dzongs in Bhutan, it survived the massive 1897 earthquake although it was damaged by fire in 1906.
Physical DescriptionBorn digitalExtent: 1 video file (80 min.) : sound, color
DescriptionThe 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.Paro Tshechu is held from the 11th to 15th day of the 2nd month of the Bhutanese calendar every year. Actually, the Tshechu begins with a chamjug or rehearsal day on the 10th day of the 2nd month, and ends on the 16th day of the 2nd month with a day s dances at Dzongdrakha monastery above Bondey.
Type of ResourceMoving image
IdentifiersNYPL catalog ID (B-number): b19887289Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 0a207710-e7f0-0130-0744-3c075448cc4b
Copyright NoticeCore of Culture
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