Ging Tshogling Cham: Wrathful War Dance
  • Manage No, Sortation, Country, Writer ,Date, Copyright
    Manage No EE00000015
    Country Bhutan
    ICH Domain Performing Arts
    Originally, the mask dance was performed at the Korphu Temple in Korphu gewog village block in Trongsa Dzongkhag district in central Bhutan, but today it is widely performed at the Tshechus, Rabneys, Mewang, Mani, Drub, Drubchen in forts, monasteries and temples in Bhutan.
    Year of Designation 1971
Description One of the most entertaining mask dances is the Ging Tsholing Cham, where most of the audience, especially the children, are captivated by the intensifying drum beats and the fighting scene of the Cham ritual dance. The mask dance is also called Tro-ging, a local name, because it provides an entertaining presentation and performance for the audience. Ging represents the wrathful appearance of celestial beings, daka and dakinis; those dances are performed by laymen called Boecham pa. Whereas Tshogling is the emanation of guardian deities of Dharma protectors, including the Four Kings of the cardinal points and the Eight Classes of Gods and Goddesses; these roles are usually performed by Tsun cham pa monks. According to literary sources, the mask dance was introduced by Terton, treasure revealer, Pema Lingpa (1450-1521) after he saw the performance at Zangdok Pelri, the copper-colored mountain and spiritual realm of Guru Padmasambhava. Pema Lingpa, who was one of the fortunate incarnate beings of Guru Padmasambhava, met his enlightened master several times: when he predicted the future, when he gave him the list of treasures to be discovered in disguise, when he guided him to the sites to be discovered, and as he often invited him into his realm during meditation states and in dreams. On one such occasion, in the magnificent palace of Rang-jung Trulpai Phodrang, self-formed palace, he saw the Root Master manifesting in Ja-lue rainbow body or wisdom body, from which millions of his forms emerged, filling the three realms of the universe, which is beyond our imagination. Among the magical representations, the enlightened sages of India and Tibet sit in the right row and the scholars sit in the left row. In between them sit the 108 treasure discoverers, who are incarnations of Guru Padmasambhava and his 25 chief disciples. A cloud of gods and goddesses transformed into one hundred Dampa Rigja Protective Deities– forty-two peaceful forms, and fifty-eight in Ging wrathful appearance–they made various sensuous offerings, including the performance of Dorji-lugar Vajra Dances, dancing upon the air, rejoicing in the participation in the preaching of the coinage doctrine. Outside the entrance gate of the Four Directions are thousands of warriors from the Pho-jued and Mo-jued male and female classes of protecting deities, the Eight Classes of Gods and Goddesses, led by the kings of the Four Directions Tshoglings, who are getting ready to overcome obstacles to the sacred teachings. In the war scene between the Gings and the Tshoglings, the aggressive characters of the Tshoglings, and the drum beats of the Gings arouse a sense of fear in the obstacles and samaya oath breakers, guiding them to follow the righteous path of humanity. A similar performance was originally introduced by Guru Padmasambhava to aid Tibet’s King Thrisong Detsen (c. 755-797 or 804 AD). Padmasambhava used his supernatural powers at the great Samye Monastery in Tibet, he manifested in the form of Ging and Tshogling, producing an immense positive force to fight and subdue the evil spirits that hindered the construction of the monastery. With the obstacles overcome, the site became an important part of establishing the teachings of the Buddha in the region. After seeing the spectacular performance and realizing its benefits for the liberation of sentient beings, Pema Lingpa introduced the sacred mask dance to Jigten me-yul the human world, first at Korphu Temple, one of his seats in Trongsa, central Bhutan. There is still a saying that goes, "If you are not sure about the choreographies of Ging Tsholing or Tro-ging, you should visit Korphu Drub." Korphu Drub is the annual mask dance festival that coincides with the temple's dedication ceremony. Due to the importance of the dance, this mask dance was later introduced in most Tshechu, Rabney, Mewang, Mani, Drub, Drubchen (native names for the annual mask dance festival) of forts, monasteries and temples by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal (1594-1651) who unified Bhutan as a country, the successive spiritual leaders of the Je Khenpo as well as the temporary leaders of the Druk Desi - these spiritual masters and far-sighted monarchs.
Social and cultural significance The social significance of this masked dance represents the celebration of victory over the evils. Like many other Cham dances it is an occasion that brings together members of the community to celebrate the festival and strengthen social bonds. For religious practitioners, the performance is considered one of the means of liberation called thong-drol, liberation through seeing, as witnessing it helps an individual to mature and realize Buddha nature, strike fear into obstacles, and follow the righteous path. The Ging represents the heroes and heroines of the celestial beings of the realm of Guru Padmasambhava and Tshogling are the manifestation of the guardian deities of the eight classes of gods and demons. The vibrating sound produced by the beating of the drums symbolizes the Choe-ngai dra, the Buddhist teachings rendered by the beating of the drums. It is also believed that the sound of the drum signifies victory over evil and celebrates the joy of the flourishing of the Buddha's teachings.
Transmission method Dancers learn performance essentially by participating, watching a master's performance, memorizing the choreography, and imitating the experienced performers. An enthusiast must learn how to hold and spin the drum in order to master it independently of the choreography steps. The Ging figures perform in groups of ten, twelve, fourteen or sixteen depending on the availability of masked dancers; the genders are evenly divided; the males are represented by red-colored masks and the females by dark-colored masks with fearsome Dar-chog triangular flags on their heads. They all wear similar colorful costumes: Zik-dom shorts with leopard skin patterns, overlaid with Tak-sham skirts with tiger skin patterns, tied around the waist with a Tha-leb leather belt. Over the bare chest dancers wear a Dorji-gong, a cape collar with a vajra motif holding a Nga round flat drum and a Ne-tog drumstick. Tshogling dancers wear a long brocade robe called a Phoe-gho with long and wide sleeve ends, a Dorji gong crossed vajra collar over the shoulder, and two Phoe-cho or Phoe-tog horn-like tools attached to either hip that helps the robe turn smoothly and elegantly as the dancers spin. The number of performers is similar to that of Gings with an equal number of genders with uniform grim, red-colored masks. However, their gender can be identified by the symbol engraved on their foreheads: scorpion for male and frog for female . Following is the choreographic order of Ging: 1. Thoen cham, entrance 2. Lam-droe, approach gait 3. Nga-len, Pung-len, Jab-len, drum, shoulder and turn-around steps 4. Gu-gu dong-len, the nine step 5. Sangay pu-dri 6. Nam-la kor-zhing sa-la pha-pa, the soaring and landing 7. Chog-zhi tsham-gye, the four cardinal directions and the intermediates 8. Nam-la kor-zhing sa-la pha-pa, the soaring and landing 9. Jab-troe, back to back intertwining 10. Toe-pa zhel-jor, the praising and embracing 11. Troe-dang-pa, the first intertwining 12. Troe-nyi-pa, the second intertwining 13. Troe-sum-pa, the third intertwining 14. Troe-zhi-pa, the fourth intertwining 15. Troe-nga-pa (zhung-troe), the fifth intertwining 16. Nin-dha kha-jor (Troe-dang-pa), the union of sun and moon (first intertwining) 17. Nin-dha kha-jor (Troe-nyi-pa), the union of sun and moon (second intertwining) 18. Nin-dha kha-jor (Troe-sum-pa), the union of sun and moon (third intertwining) 19. Nin-dha kha-jor (Troe-zhi-pa), the union of sun and moon (fourth intertwining) 20. Pa-chog 21. Zul-cham, exit procession Following is the choreography for Tshogling: 1. Thoen cham, entrance 2. Lam-droe, approach gait 3. Phyi-nang, outer and inner 4. Chab-tor, a weather offering 5. Hom-kor, circumambulation of the destruction-pit 6. Ye-chang yon-kum, stretching the right and folding the left 7. Hum-nye, visualizing the ‘Hum’ syllable 8. Gu-dung lam-droe, the nine beat approach gait 9. Draw-drel da-ke lhar-sel, visualization of the deity to subjugate the obstructor 10. Yak-sha 11. Chag-ye dorji dang yon chag-chu zhag-pa, Vajra to the right hand, iron hook and lasso to the other. 12. Draw-wo la-gug, summoning the life-force of the obstructor 13. Drel-cham, subjugating 14. Zhel-tab, feasting 15. Kang-wa, mending 16. Kul-jab, invoking 17. Nge-drub lang-wa, receive siddhi or blessing 18. Zul-cham, exit procession
Community The mask dance includes two different types of figures: Ging and Tshogling. The Ging Cham is usually performed by Boechampa lay mask dancer, while the Tshogling is danced exclusively by monks. However, in remote communities where there are no monastic institutions, the Tshogling performers are also replaced by lay people. The mask dancers are either laymen or monks designated or selected by the district or local government or a monastic institution. Data collected by: Mr. Yeshi Lhendup, NLAB
Information source
National Library and Archives of Bhutan

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