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Dramitse Nga Cham, Paro Tsechu, Day One: Inside the Dzong [Wide shot]

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Dramitse Nga Cham, Paro Tsechu, Day One: Inside the Dzong [Wide shot]
Additional title: Drum Dance of Dramitse
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 812A
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
Drum dances -- Bhutan
Animal dances -- Bhutan
Filmed dance
Filmed performances
Additional physical form: For close shot version, see: *MGZIDF 812B.
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.
Content: Paro Tsechu Programme Day One: Goma Rabsel Courtyard, Inside the Dzong: Shinjey Yab Yum - Dance of the Lord of Death and his Consort ; Durdag - Lords of the Charnel Grounds ; Zhanag - Dance of the Black Hats ; Dramitse Nga Cham - The Drum Dance of Dramitse ; Degey - Dance of the Eight (Kinds of) Spirits ; Chhoe Zhey - Religious Song.
Venue: Videotaped in performance at the Paro Dzong, Paro, Bhutan (Goma Rabsel inner courtyard, Upper Balcony looking over inner courtyard), on Mar. 21, 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 (61 min.) : sound, color
Dramitse Ngacham - Dramitse Drum Dance In the excellent heaven of Zangtopelri where the beings have accumulated merits, the dancers are decorated with splendid jewels and perform 21 stanzas of the dance. Just seeing this dance, the black demons are vanquished and the white gods reign supreme. The Dramitse Nga Cham the Drum Dance of Dramitse is perhaps the most famous dance in the entire country of Bhutan. The Dramitse Nga Cham dates back to the 15th Century, when Ani Chorten Zangmo, of Bumthang, was supposed to marry the son of the Chhokkor Deb. However, she refused to take this path, preferring instead to pursue a spiritual and contemplative life, and so she became a nun. Her uncle, the great Terton Pema Lingpa, gave her a white Conch shell and prophesied that her destiny would lie in that place where the Conch produced its most beautiful sound. The nun set off travelling to the South-east, beyond Kurtoe Aja (a place very sacred to the memory of Guru Rinpoche) until she came to a small Goenpa (or temple) called Dupchu Goenpa in a place that was called Bramitse (the hill where no one lives). On blowing the conch shell there, she produced a most pleasing musical sound, and decided that this would indeed be a favourable place to reside so she renamed the place Dramitse the hill free of enemies (Dra - Dzk. means enemy; Mi - Dzk. means No and Tse - Dzk. means hill.) The younger brother of Ani Chorten Zangmo, Kunga Gyaltshen (also known as Kunga Nyingpo or Kunga Wangpo) was a learned Lama, who often visualised Guru Rinpoche in his meditations. Through his intense powers of concentration he was able to travel to Zangdo Pelrhi (the Glorious Copper-Coloured Mountain Paradise) which is the abode of Guru Rinpoche. There, on one such visit, the Lama was amazed to see the heavenly attendants of Guru Rinpoche transform themselves into one hundred wrathful and peaceful deities and perform an exquisite dance. In their left hand they held large drums, which they beat with drumsticks held in their right hands as they performed the intricate movements of the dance. The Lama understood that Guru Rinpoche s intention was to demonstrate to him how the medium of dance could be used to deliver very powerful messages to human beings and instruct them about the deeper mysteries of faith. When he returned to Dramitse he was able to compose a simulacrum of the dance he had seen, and he also worked into the composition elements of other drum dances revealed by other great tertons (treasure revealers) such as Sangye Lingpa and Ugyen Lingpa. This was the dance that was performed at the consecration of the Temple eventually built at Dramitse, a few hours walk from the original Dupchu Goenpa. The result was the establishment of the tradition of the Drum Dance of Dramitse, which was, for many centuries only ever performed in Dramitse, the place of its origin, in Mongar Dzongkhag. However, later in the twentieth Century, this famous dance began to spread around the country, as it became a much-favoured item and was introduced to many other religious festivals, as dancers from Dramitse carried it with them and taught it in other places. One of the effects of this rapid distribution was that the original dance which took some three hours to perform and was divided into 21 Sections was never performed in its entirety elsewhere and indeed different and shorter versions began to proliferate with steps and movements diverging from the original. The original version sees sixteen dancers wearing a variety of animal masks including an Owl, a Garuda, (Ja Chung) a Bear, a Leopard and the twelve animals of the Bhutanese horoscope. Each of the dancers carries a drum in his right hand, with the exception of the Champoen (dance leader) who carries a small pair of cymbals which provide timing clues to the other dancers. The original dance also included a fifteen-minute ceremony during which the local people would made offerings of the traditional khadar (white scarf) to the dancers. Core of Culture has so far not had the opportunity to witness the dance performed in Dramitse itself, and the many versions of the Dramitse Drum dance that have been recorded for this database are therefore performed by other groups. However, in early 2007, during a special meeting of the different Peling dance traditions organised by Core of Culture at the Yungdrung Choeling Dzong (a place sacred to the memory of Pema Lingpa) a group of eight dancers from Dramitse, who attended that convention, performed the whole of the original 21-Section version, for the first time ever away from the original courtyard of Dramitse. [There is a single recording of this dance within the Bhutan Dance Access database at BDA 662.4].
Type of Resource
Moving image
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b19887279
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 0491a890-e506-0130-4677-3c075448cc4b
Copyright Notice
Core of Culture
Rights Statement
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Item timeline of events

  • 2005: Created
  • 2013: Digitized
  • 2019: Found by you!
  • 2020

MLA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Dramitse Nga Cham" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 2005.

Chicago/Turabian Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Dramitse Nga Cham" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed October 14, 2019.

APA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. (2005). Dramitse Nga Cham Retrieved from

Wikipedia Citation

<ref name=NYPL>{{cite web | url= | title= (moving image) Dramitse Nga Cham, (2005) }} |author=Digital Collections, The New York Public Library |accessdate=October 14, 2019 |publisher=The New York Public Library, Astor, Lennox, and Tilden Foundation}}</ref>

Dramitse Nga Cham