Tibetan Sacred Dance: A Journey Into the Religious and Folk Traditions

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Inner Traditions / Bear & Co, 2002 - Body, Mind & Spirit - 192 pages
The first book to explore the significance and symbolism of the sacred and secular ritual dances of Tibetan Buddhism.

• Lavishly illustrated with color and rare historic photographs depicting the dances, costumes, and masks.

• Looks at both sacred (cham) and folk (achi lhamo) forms and their role in the development, practice, and culture of Tibetan Buddhism.

From the time Buddhism entered the mythical land of the snows, Tibetans have expressed their spiritual devotion and celebrated their culture with dance. Only since the diaspora of the Tibetan people have outsiders witnessed these performances, and when they do, no one explains why these dances exist and what they really mean. Ellen Pearlman, who studied with Lobsang Samten, the ritual dance master of the Dalai Lama's Namgyal monastery in India, set out to discover the meaning behind these practices. She found the story of the indigenous shamanistic Bon religion being superseded by Buddhism--a story full of dangerous and illicit liaisons, brilliant visions, secret teachings, betrayals, and unrevealed yogic practices.

Pearlman examines the four lineages that developed sacred cham--the secret ritual dances of Tibet's Buddhist monks--and achi lhamo storytelling folk dance and opera. She describes the mental and physical process of preparing for these dances, the meaning of the iconography of the costumes and masks, the spectrum of accompanying music, and the actual dance steps as recorded in a choreography book dating back to the Fifth Dalai Lama in 1647. Beautiful color photographs from the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts and Pearlman's own images of touring monastic troupes complement the rare historic black-and-white photos from the collections of Sir Charles Bell, chief of the British Mission in Tibet during the life of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama.
 

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Contents

PROLOGUE
1
CHAM Sacred Monastic Dance
7
ENTERING THE WORLD OF CHAM
13
VAJRAKILAYA THE DANCE OF THE THREESIDED RITUAL DAGGER
17
CHAM AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF TIBETAN RELIGION
28
SKELETON DANCE
35
DEER DANCE
38
BLACK HAT DANCE
41
DEVELOPMENT OF ACHI LHAMO
119
MAJOR OPERAS
120
DROWA SANGMO
123
GYALSA BHELSA
125
KING GESAR OF LING
126
PEMA WOEBAR
131
RECHUNG UPHEB RECHUNGS TRAVELS TO CENTRAL TIBET WITH MILAREPA
135
SUKYINYIMA
136

OLD WHITE MAN FROM MONGOLIA
44
MONGOLIAN AND OTHER CHAMS
46
KALACHAKRA THE WHEEL OF TIME
48
CHAM GAR
54
PREPARATION AND INITIATION
55
THREE MAIN PHASES OF CHAM PERFORMANCE
57
MANDALA AND MANTRA
60
DANCE STEPS AND MUDRAS
63
COSTUMES
69
MASKS
74
CHARACTERS
77
MUSIC
84
MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS
90
FESTIVALS
97
PURPOSE AND INTERPRETATION
100
ACHI LHAMO Folk Dance and Operatic Traditions
109
EARLY ORIGINS
114
THANGTONG GYALPO
115
THE PA TEN PA
139
NANGSA WOEBUM OBUM
140
PHASES OF ACHI LHAMO PERFORMANCE
143
TYPES OF PERFORMERS
148
SINGING
149
MUSIC AND INSTRUMENTS
154
FOLK DANCE STYLES
158
LHAMO GAR
163
OPERA SEASONS
166
EPILOGUE
173
THE TIBETAN INSTITUTE OF PERFORMING ARTS
174
NEW FORMS
178
CHAM TODAY
180
NOTES
183
BIBLIOGRAPHY
185
INDEX
190
Copyright

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Tibetan Sacred Dance
A Journey into the Religious and Folk Traditions

Prologue
Part One
Cham: Sacred Monastic Dance
Entering the World of Cham
Vajrakilaya, the Dance of the Three-Sided Ritual Dagger
Cham and the Development of Tibetan Religion
Representative Chams
Skeleton Dance
Deer Dance
Black Hat Dance
Old White Man from Mongolia
Mongolian and Other Chams
Kalachakra, the Wheel of Time
Cham Gar
Essential Elements of Cham
Preparation and Initiation
Three Main Phases of Cham Performance
Mandala and Mantra
Dance Steps and Mudras
Costumes
Masks
Characters
Music
Musical Instruments
Festivals
Purpose and Interpretation
Part Two
Achi Lhamo: Folk Dance and Operatic Traditions
Origins and Development of Achi Lhamo
Early Origins
Thangtong Gyalpo
Development of Achi Lhamo
Major Operas
Drowa Sangmo
Gyalsa Bhelsa
King Gesar of Ling
Pema Woebar
Rechung U Pheb (Rechung's Travels to Central Tibet with Milarepa)
Sukyi Nyima
Thepa Tenpa
Chungpo Dhonyoe Dhondup
Nangsa Woebum (Obum)
Essential Elements of Achi Lhamo
Phases of Achi Lhamo Performance
Types of Performers
Singing
Music and Instruments
Folk Dance Styles
Lhamo Gar
Opera Seasons
Epilogue
The Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts
New Forms
Cham Today
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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