Tsechu Zhanag (Nyer Chig) Cham, Punakha Tsechu: Day One [Wide shot]Additional title: Dance of the Black Hats (21 forms)
NamesCore of Culture (Organization) (Producer)Core of Culture (Organization) (Donor)
Bhutan Dance Project, Core of Culture
Dates / OriginDate Created: 2005
Library locationsJerome Robbins Dance DivisionShelf locator: *MGZIDF 778A
TopicsDance -- BhutanFolk dancing -- BhutanDance -- Religious aspects -- BuddhismRites & ceremonies -- BhutanDzongs -- Bhutan -- Punakha (District)Punakha (Bhutan : District)Festivals -- BhutanRitual and ceremonial dancing -- BhutanHat dances -- Bhutan
GenresFilmed danceFilmed performances
NotesAdditional physical form: For close shot version, see: *MGZIDF 778B.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.Programme for the Punakha Tsechu, Day One: Feb. 18, 2005: Thongdrel Jyekha - Viewing of the Thongdrel of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal ; Shazam - Dance of the Four Stags ; Zhabdrung Zednam - The Coming of the Zhabadrung (Dance Drama) ; Tsechu Zhanag (Nyer Chig) Cham - Dance of the Black Hats (21 Forms) ; Nyulemai Cham - The Dance of the Evil Spirit ; Peling Jug Ging - The Dance of the Ging with sticks ; Peling Dri Ging - The Dance of the Ging with swords ; Peling Nga Ging - The Dance of the Ging with Drums.Venue: Videotaped in performance at the main courtyard, Punakha Dzong, in Punakha Dzong (camera on 1st floor balcony), on Feb. 18, 2005.Acquisition: Gift; Core of Culture. NN-PDBiographical/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 DescriptionBorn digitalExtent: 1 video file (29 min.) : sound, color
DescriptionThe celebrated Zhanag Cham (Black Hat Dance) performed by twenty-one monks. 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) whose origins 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 intention of the rituals performed.
Type of ResourceMoving image
IdentifiersNYPL catalog ID (B-number): b19876378Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 0ba4e700-e50f-0130-dcd7-3c075448cc4b
Copyright NoticeCore of Culture
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