27 Ağustos 2015 Perşembe

Tsam dance - an eternal dance of death.

   A Tsam ceremony was held at the beginning of the year to exorcise evil. It consisted of a series of masked dances and often had a narrative content. Tsam  means masked dance, and local variations of the festival were once practiced in Tibet, Ladakh, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, China and Mongolia, but only in Ladakh and Bhutan and at a few remote, inaccessible monasteries has it been protected from destructive politics and the impact of Western civilization. In Tibet, Mongolia, Transbaikalia, and China the festival either fell victim to the ruthless Stalinist suppression of Buddhism in the 1930s, or more recently to the vandalism unleashed by the Chinese Cultural Revolution of Mao Zedong. Today in Mongolia efforts are being made to revive the tradition, with elderly monks who survived persecution teaching young monks the rituals and choreography of Tsam.
Tsam Ceremony
While the use of grotesque masks in the Tsam dances creates an impression of going back to high antiquity, the festival is in fact a relatively recent tradition. Among the southern Mongol tribes, the annual dance seems to have been adopted during the second half of the eighteenth century. At the capital of Urga (near present-day Ulan Baatar) it is said that these dances were first performed in the monastery of Bogdo Gegen (“Living Buddha”) in 1811.

   There is an old Tibetan legend saying that long ago there were two ascetic Buddhist monks, who would meditate so profoundly, they'd lose all contact with the outside world. One such time - being lost in a deep state of meditation - they were caught unaware by a thief and beheaded; therefore they did not realize [immediately] they had died. The two became the Lords of the Cemetery, dancing an ecstatic Tsam dance - an eternal dance of death.

TSAM (Mongolian Buddhist Ceremony Dancing)

A variety of sources allows us to reconstruct the outlines of the Tsam in Mongolia. This is of special interest because this type of sacral performance attained during its brief life span in this country a level that was never equaled in any other. Tsam masks of Mongolian production, for example, are exceptionally large and have an artistic expressiveness only rarely matched in other countries.

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