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Raksha Mangcham, Thimphu Tsechu: Day Three [Close shot]

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Raksha Mangcham, Thimphu Tsechu: Day Three [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: 2006
Library locations
Jerome Robbins Dance Division
Shelf locator: *MGZIDF 944B
Dance -- Bhutan
Folk dancing -- Bhutan
Dance -- Religious aspects -- Buddhism
Rites & ceremonies -- Bhutan
Masks -- Bhutan
Sword-dance -- Bhutan
Dzongs -- Bhutan -- Thimphu (District)
Thimphu (Bhutan : District)
Festivals -- Bhutan
Ritual and ceremonial dancing -- Bhutan
Mask dances -- Bhutan
Animal dances -- Bhutan
Filmed dance
Filmed performances
Additional physical form: For wide shot version, see: *MGZIDF 944A.
Content: At the end of this clip - as the good soul is rewarded and goes up into the temple - a large procession begins that moves from the temple to circumambulate the arena - and which carries the Rakusha? around. The Procession of the Effigy continues around the arena while the dancers hold to the centre and dance. This long drama about the judgment of souls is normally performed on the penultimate day of a festival.
Content: Programme for the Masked Dances at the Thimphu Tsechu, Day Three (Oct. 3, 2006): Durdag - Dance of the Four Lords of the Charnel Grounds ; Tum Ngam - Dance of the Terrifying Deities ; Rukusha Mangcham - Dance of the Judgement of the Dead.
Venue: Videotaped in performance at the Trashichhodzong, in Thimphu, Bhutan (ground level, looking across arena along the right diagonal towards the Je Khenpho's seat), on Oct. 3, 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 (ca. 250 min.) : sound, color
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): b19938818
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 20cf5460-f877-0130-bb75-3c075448cc4b
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
  • 2013: Digitized
  • 2022: Found by you!
  • 2023

MLA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Raksha Mangcham" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 2006.

Chicago/Turabian Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Raksha Mangcham" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed July 2, 2022.

APA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. (2006). Raksha Mangcham Retrieved from

Wikipedia Citation

<ref name=NYPL>{{cite web | url= | title= (moving image) Raksha Mangcham, (2006)|author=Digital Collections, The New York Public Library |accessdate=July 2, 2022 |publisher=The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations}}</ref>

Raksha Mangcham