Thimphu Tshechu (DAY 2) 

Black Hat Dance (Shana)

The dancers wear brocade dresses, wide brimmed black hats and black aprons with an image representing the protecting deities whose images are kept in the goenkhang (chapel). The black-hat dancers assume the appearance of yogis who have the power of killing and recreating life. It is believed that the gestures of the dancers’ hands are transformed into mudras (sacred mystic gestures) and their feet, which pound the earth, form a mandala. The dancers first build a mandala and then cut the demons into pieces. Thus, they take possession of the earth in order to protect it and they dance the special thunderbolt step to impress their power on it.

Because of its importance, the Shabdrung himself used to perform this ritual. This is a ground purification rite, also performed for the construction of dzongs, temples and chortens. Its aim is to conciliate the malevolent beings of the ground in order to take possession of the site from them.

Dance of the 21 Black Hats with Drums (Shaa Nga Cham)

In honour of the victory of religion over the enemies, the black hats beat the great drums of Buddhism. The sound of the drums represents the religion itself, which can not be represented in any other way because it has no visible form. The dancers wear large black hats, felt boots and a long, colourful, brocade dress.


An accompanying dance is performed by dancers carrying swords and wearing knee-length yellow skirts, bare-feet and animal masks.

Dance of the Noblemen and the Ladies (Pholeg Moleg) 

This dance depicts events in the life of King Norzang. It is a comical and very crude play rather than a dance.

The actors are two princesses, an old couple and the clowns. The prince go to war and leave the princesses in the care of the old couple. As soon as they depart, the clowns frolic with the princesses and corrupt the old woman who is also misbehaving. When the princes return, they are scandalised by the behavior and cut off the noses of the princesses and the old lady as punishment. Then a doctor is called to put the nose back, but the old woman smells so much that the doctor has to use a stick because he does not want to approach her. Finally, the princes marry the princesses and everybody is reconciled.

Dance of the Drums from Dramitse (Dramitse Nga Cham) 

The learned lama Kuenga Gyeltshen, son of Pema Lingpa, had vision of Guru Rimpoche and his paradise Zangtho Pelri during his meditation. The attendants of Guru Rimpoche were transformed into one 100 kinds of peaceful and terrifying deities. The took in their left hand a big drum and in their right hand a drumstick and they performed a dance. Kuenga Gyeltshen came to Dramitse Goemba in Eastern Bhutan and established the tradition of this dance, which depicts his vision. The players hold big drums and wear knee-length yellow skirts and animal mask.

Dance of the Stag and the Hounds (Shawo Shachi)

This is the conclusion of the dance staged on the first day and is more serious and religious. Milarepa appears, wearing a long white dress and a white hat, holding a pilgrim’s staff. He holds his right hand near his ear and sings in a soft voice. The dogs, the stag and the hunter arrive and Milarepa converts them with his song. The conversion is symbolised by a rope that the dogs and the hunter have to jump.