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Tum Ngam, Punakha Tsechu: Day Two [Close shot]

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Tum Ngam, Punakha Tsechu: Day Two [Close shot]

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Tum Ngam, Punakha Tsechu: Day Two [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 788B
Dance -- Bhutan
Folk dancing -- Bhutan
Dance -- Religious aspects -- Buddhism
Rites & ceremonies -- Bhutan
Buddhist demonology -- Bhutan
Masks -- Bhutan
Sword-dance -- Bhutan
Dzongs -- Bhutan -- Punakha (District)
Punakha (Bhutan : District)
Festivals -- Bhutan
Ritual and ceremonial dancing -- Bhutan
Mask dances -- Bhutan
Filmed dance
Filmed performances
Additional physical form: For wide shot version, see: *MGZIDF 788A.
Biographical/historical: The Punakha Tsechu (as opposed to the Punakha Drubchen) is of recent origin, having been first performed in 2005. Dasho Thinley Gyamtsho, the Principal of RAPA, was asked to create a new dance spectacle to help inaugurate the Tsechu, and he devised a new piece, taking three days to perform, The Coming of the Zhabdrung which recounts the history of Zhabdrung, Nagawang Namgyal particularly as it relates to his arrival in Punakha and the building of the Punakha Dzong, Pungthang Dechen Phodrang.
Content: Programme for the Punakha Tsechu: Day Two: Feb. 19, 2005: Durdag - Dance of the Four Lords of the Charnel Grounds ; Tum Ngam - Dance of the Terrifying Deities ; Zhabdrung Zednam - The Coming of the Zhabdrung (Dance Drama) ; Dramitse Ngacham: The Drum Dance of Dramitse.
Venue: Videotaped in performance at the main courtyard, Punakha Dzong, in Punakha, Bhutan (camera level with dancers), on Feb. 19, 2005.
Acquisition: Gift; Core of Culture. NN-PD
Biographical/historical: Pungthang Dechen Phodrang Dzong (The Palace of Great Bliss) in Punakha was constructed by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in 1637-38 and is of great historical significance. Located on a stretch of land where two rivers, the Phochu and Mochu, coverage, the Dzong appears as great anchored ship. It was here that the Zhabdrung died in 1651. Again, it was here that the first hereditary Monarch of Bhutan, King Ugyen Wangchuck, was enthroned just over one hundred years ago, on 17th December 1907. Punakha served as the winter capital of the Kingdom until 1955, (after which the capital moved to Thimphu) and Punakha Dzong continues to be the winter residence of the Central Monastic Authority (CMA) the main monk body of the Drukpa Kagyu School.
Physical Description
Born digital
Extent: 1 video file (58 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.
Type of Resource
Moving image
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b19884571
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): db7a2cf0-e511-0130-1606-3c075448cc4b
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
  • 2020: Found by you!
  • 2021

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 April 4, 2020.

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=April 4, 2020 |publisher=The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations}}</ref>

Tum Ngam