Zhanag Nga Cham, Thimphu Drubchen: Day One [Close shot]Additional title: Dance of the Black Hats with Drums
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 898B
TopicsDance -- BhutanFolk dancing -- BhutanDance -- Religious aspects -- BuddhismRites & ceremonies -- BhutanBuddhist demonology -- BhutanSpirits (Buddhism)Dzongs -- Bhutan -- Thimphu (District)Thimphu (Bhutan : District)Festivals -- BhutanRitual and ceremonial dancing -- BhutanHat dances -- BhutanSpirit dances -- BhutanDrum dances -- Bhutan
GenresFilmed danceFilmed performances
NotesAdditional physical form: For wide shot version, see: *MGZIDF 898A.Content: Programme for the Thimphu Drubchen, Day One (Sept. 27, 2006): Zhanag Nga Cham - (21 dancers) The Drum Dance of the Black Hats ; De Gey Ku Cham (Dzg. De Gyad) - Dance of the Eight Kinds of Spirits.Venue: Videotaped in performance at the Trashi Cho [Tashichho] Dzong, in Thimphu, Bhutan (ground level: Looking across arena along the right diagonal towards the Je Khenpho's seat), on Sept. 27, 2006.Acquisition: Gift; Core of Culture. NN-PDBiographical/historical: The 11-day annual Lhamoi Drubchhen, is a rite performed to appease Pelden Lhamo (the Goddess Mahakali), one of the three main spiritual protectors of the Drukpa Kagyue school of Buddhism. The sacred 11-day ceremony is performed by His Holiness the Je Khenpo and 250 monks of the central monk body at the Dukhang (congregation hall) of Tashichhodzong for 22 hours at a stretch in a day with only short breaks for meals and rest. The clergy performs a three-day rite for the Thimphu Domchoe while the Lham Tsomo dance, a highlight of the Thimphu Domchoe festival, is performed in the courtyard of the Tashichhodzong.Biographical/historical: The Drubchhen was instituted between 1705 and 1709 by Kuenga Gyaltshen, the first reincarnation of Jampel Dorji, the son of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal.
Physical DescriptionBorn digitalExtent: 1 video file (ca. 49 min.) : sound, color
DescriptionThe Drubchen gets underway with the monks performing a 21-member Black Hat dance - portraying a ritual subjugation. Because of the large numbers of dancers performing, the five principal black hat figures - and principal dancers - occupy the central part of the arena. 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): b19897237Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 43587880-f876-0130-95ca-3c075448cc4b
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