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Raksha Mangcham, Paro Tsechu, Day Four: Outside the Dzong [Close shot]

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Raksha Mangcham, Paro Tsechu, Day Four: Outside the Dzong [Close shot]

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Raksha Mangcham, Paro Tsechu, Day Four: Outside the Dzong [Close shot]
Additional title: Dance of the Judgement of the Dead
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 818B
Dance -- Bhutan
Folk dancing -- Bhutan
Dance -- Religious aspects -- Buddhism
Rites & ceremonies -- Bhutan
Masks -- Bhutan
Dzongs -- Bhutan -- Paro (District)
Paro (Bhutan : District)
Festivals -- Bhutan
Ritual and ceremonial dancing -- Bhutan
Mask dances -- Bhutan
Animal dances -- Bhutan
Spirit dances -- Bhutan
Filmed dance
Filmed performances
Additional physical form: For wide shot version, see: *MGZIDF 818A.
Content: Paro Tsechu Programme Day Four: (Outside the Dzong): Shinjey Yab Yum - Dance of the Lord of Death and his Consort ; Shacham - Dance of the Four Stags ; Rakusha Mangcham - Dance of the Judgement of the Dead ; Dramitse Nga Cham - The Drum Dance of Dramitse ; (NB: not all the dances were filmed on this day).
Venue: Videotaped in performance at the outer courtyard, Paro Dzong, in Paro, Bhutan (at ground level - looking at the Chamkhang entry-way), on Mar. 24, 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.
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Biographical/historical: 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.
Physical Description
Born digital
Extent: 1 video file (ca. 134 min.) : sound, color
The dancers exit (zuelcham) in groups of four. This long drama about the judgment of souls is normally performed on the penultimate day of a festival. The drama is based upon the sacred text, the Bardo Thosgrol, (the Book of the Dead) by the Fourteenth Century Saint Karma Lingpa (1327 to 1387). The drama centers around the trial of a recently deceased soul by the name of Nyalbam before the Great Lord of Purgatory, Shinjey Choki Gyelpo, who is there to pronounce judgment on his sins. The character of Shinjey is sometimes assumed by an eminent lama wearing a fierce mask (see Ura, Yungdrung Choeling versions) and at other times is taken by a huge cane puppet (see Thimphu, Paro and Korphu versions). In whichever version, Shinjey is represented as carrying a magical mirror that reflects the truth of all the actions of an accused soul, making it impossible for them to lie about the past. The Accused has on his side the Defending Counsel, a Good spirit, the white-faced Lha Kharpo, who pleads that his poverty and ignorance are all mitigating circumstances that explain his crimes and sins. On the other side is the fearsome Prosecutor Due Nagpo who argues that the accused is a serial criminal and recounts a long list of crimes he has committed including the killing of wild-life, pollution of the environment, offending people, fraud, defamation etc. etc. The trail takes place before a full court of the attendants of Shinjey, the Shinjey Lakhen who might number anywhere from six to twenty-six animal-headed spirits. The name Mangcham implies that the dance takes place with a full complement of members of the jury who will present evidence, listen to the charges for and the defense of the accused and then participate in the process of judgment. A full version of the Raksha Mang Chham might include the following: On the Right Side - led by the Ox (Raksha), Boar (Phag), Male Garuda (Chhung-Po), Lion (Singye), Raven (Ja-rog), Tiger (Tag), Oxen (Lang), Leopard (Zig), Makara (Chhu Sin), Wolf (Chang), Goat (Ra), Horse (Ta), and Dragon (Druk). On the Left side - led by the Male Stag (Shaw Po), Snake (Druel), Monkey (Treu), Female Garuda (Chhung-mo), Bear (Dom), Dog (Khi), Female Stag (Shaw-mo), Wild Dog (Faw), Sheep (Lug), Rat (Gew), Hoopoe (Dreto Zen), Owl (Woogpa) and Abominable Snowman (Migoe). Following the judgment of the sinner Nyalbam and his being sent off to further punishment on a black carpet, another judgment is performed, this time on a pious person who has lived a blessed life. The judgment is this time in his favor and the virtuous man Palkyed is rewarded by being escorted on a white carpet by fairies to a more blessed place. The Due Nagpo is furious to have lost a soul and tries, unsuccessfully, to snatch him at the end.
Type of Resource
Moving image
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b19887295
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 1ea58060-e7f0-0130-3b5d-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
  • 2021: Found by you!
  • 2022

MLA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Raksha Mangcham" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 2005.

Chicago/Turabian Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Raksha Mangcham" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed May 11, 2021.

APA Format

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

Wikipedia Citation

<ref name=NYPL>{{cite web | url= | title= (moving image) Raksha Mangcham, (2005)|author=Digital Collections, The New York Public Library |accessdate=May 11, 2021 |publisher=The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations}}</ref>

Raksha Mangcham