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Tum Ngam, Paro Tsechu, Day Three: Outside the Dzong [Close shot]

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Tum Ngam, Paro Tsechu, Day Three: Outside the Dzong [Close shot]
Additional title: Dance of the Terrifying Deities
Core of Culture (Organization) (Producer)
Core of Culture (Organization) (Donor)

Bhutan Dance Project, Core of Culture

Dates / Origin
Date Created: 2005
Library locations
Jerome Robbins Dance Division
Shelf locator: *MGZIDF 815B
Dance -- Bhutan
Folk dancing -- Bhutan
Dance -- Religious aspects -- Buddhism
Rites & ceremonies -- Bhutan
Buddhist demonology -- Bhutan
Masks -- Bhutan
Dzongs -- Bhutan -- Paro (District)
Paro (Bhutan : District)
Festivals -- Bhutan
Ritual and ceremonial dancing -- Bhutan
Mask dances -- Bhutan
Spirit dances -- Bhutan
Filmed dance
Filmed performances
Additional physical form: For wide shot version, see: *MGZIDF 815A.
Content: Paro Tsechu Programme Day Three: (Outside the Dzong): Durdag - Lords of the Charnel Grounds ; Tum Ngam - Dance of the Terrifying Deities ; Gyuan Drug Pawo - Dance of the Heroes with six kinds of ornaments ; Kye Cham - Accompaniment Dance ; Pholey Moley - Dance of the Noblemen and the Ladies ; Shawa Shachi - Dance of the Stag and the Hounds (Part II) (NB: not all the dances were filmed on this day).
Venue: Videotaped in performance at the outer courtyard, Paro Dzong, in Paro, Bhutan (looking across the outer courtyard at ground level), on Mar. 23, 2005.
Acquisition: Gift; Core of Culture. NN-PD
Biographical/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 Description
Born digital
Extent: 1 video file (ca. 124 min.) : sound, color
Tum Ngam - wrathful Deity - the main character in this dramatic subjugation dance is Pema Bazha or Dorje Drolo, one of the Wrathful manifestations of Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava). This spectacular and dramatic dance has a deeply symbolic interpretation. Dramatically speaking a ritual sacrificial killing is performed during the dance. Dorje Drolo and his retinue of fierce deities capture any evil spirits in the center of their circle, forcing them to take shelter in a ritual figure or linga. Once this is done, the champoen, or main dancer, wields the phurba, or ritual dagger,to destroy the evil spirits that have been captured - thus ridding the place of their influence. Tum Ngam is also known as the Dance of the Terrifying Deities tum meaning wrathful and ngam denoting a state of wrathful frenzy. This cham is a fine example of a subjugation dance , a ritual during which any evil influences or spirits in the area are forced out into the open before being herded together by the powerful deities of the dance. Once surrounded, the malevolent spirits take shelter, for their own safety, in a linga (a ritual effigy, most often made of flour and butter) in the center of the circle. There, trapped within a triangular vessel from which they cannot escape, the evil spirits are then ritually destroyed, together with the linga , by the phurba (sacred dagger) wielded by the champoen or principal dancer. The champoen, who leads the dance, represents one of the eight forms of Padmasambhava, Dorje Drolo, a particularly wrathful manifestation of the Great Guru who is of especial significance to the Bhutanese people. Tradition has it that Padmasambhava assumed this wrathful form as he arrived at Tagtsang (Tiger's Lair) a cave on a cliff high above Paro, in Bhutan. Guru had flown to Tagtsang from Tibet, riding on the back of one of his consorts who had transformed herself into a flying tigress. Whilst there, he fiercely subdued all the local gods and demons of Tibet, the Himalaya and India, forcing them to pay allegiance to him and to become guardians and defenders of his treasure teachings. The highly-charged movements of this energetic dance re-enact and remember the Great Teacher s subjugation of all enemies of Buddhism who oppose, or stand in the way of the teachings. It is considered highly auspicious to witness this exciting and dynamic dance. In ridding the area of maleficent influences Guru Dorje Drolo and his retinue of fierce deities dance to bring peace and harmony where disorder and discord had ruled and take their leave, showering blessings upon the place. This dance was later analysed, section by section, with a single monk demonstrating each step in sequence: cf the later Core of Culture tapes showing the more detailed analysis. 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 Resource
Moving image
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b19887285
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 1009d0d0-e7f0-0130-0c31-3c075448cc4b
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

  • 2005: Created
  • 2013: Digitized
  • 2022: Found by you!
  • 2023

MLA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Tum Ngam" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 2005.

Chicago/Turabian Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Tum Ngam" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed June 25, 2022.

APA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. (2005). Tum Ngam Retrieved from

Wikipedia Citation

<ref name=NYPL>{{cite web | url= | title= (moving image) Tum Ngam, (2005)|author=Digital Collections, The New York Public Library |accessdate=June 25, 2022 |publisher=The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations}}</ref>

Tum Ngam