Bhutanese traditional masked dances
The rich cultural and religious history of Bhutan comes to fore during the Tsechu festival when traditional dances based on the lives of Padmasambhava and other saints are performed.
On our request, a mini Tsechu festival was re-created especially for our group. The festival was complete with traditional wine and snacks typical of the Tsechu.
The Cham Dances
The introduction to this hour long cultural programme is played on the Yangchen (dulcimer) and Dramnyen (lute).
This is the welcome song and dance performed in honor of the guests. The ceremony is supposed to bring good luck to the audience as well as the programme. Men are attired in gho and women in kira, tego and wonju – the traditional Bhutanese dress, while performing.
The oldest Bhutanese song and dance performed in dzongs and monsatries. Performed by women, dressed in traditional attire and a rachu which is a hand-woven Bhutanese scarf, the performance is considered an offering to the gods.
Drametse Nga Cham
The Dramtse Nga Cham is the most popular masked dance, first performed in Eastern Bhutan. It is performed by male dancers, wearing different colored silk robes and wooden hand crafted animal masks. The accompanying music is played on the dung (trumpets), rim (cymbals) and nga (drum).
The Pchewang dance has been choreographed by performing artists and features female dancers. Each dancer carries with her a chewang, which is a Bhutanese fiddle. The accompanying music is played on the yangchen (dulcimer) and the fiddle.
The Pa Cham is also known as the dance of the powas (heroes) and the pams (heroines). The dance is performed as a chanting ritual to transcend the human world, with the aim of being in the presence of Guru Rinpoche. Dancers wear silk robes and decorative crowns on their head, with trang tri (small drums) and Dril Bu (brass bells) on top.
The Layab dance is performed by nomadic tribes living at high altitudes in Western Bhutan. Their main sources of livelihood are yak rearing and herding. Costumes for the dance are hand woven from yak’s hair; accompanying the costumes are bamboo hats. Music for the dance is played on the lym (bamboo flute).
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