This study is the result of field work at the Khampagar Monastery which was founded by the 8th Kamtul Linpoche, who moved to Tashi jong near Himachal Pradesh in northern India to escape the Chinese communists. The temple compound belonged to the Duk school of Tibetan Buddhism's Kagyu order in 1969. Before this study I researched the Cham ritual of labulengsi in Shaher China, and the Hemis Gompa in Ladak, northern India. The Labulengsi ritual was held on one day, while that of the Hemis lasted two. Those were insufficient to my research because Labulengsi was influenced by Chinese culture, while Hemis was shortened and altered for foreigner viewers. However, the Khampagar gompa ritual is held over 7days and so showcases a variety of content.
The pattern of Khampagar Gompa's lama dancing was that the higher the level of superiority within the order was the character, the slower and more moderate the dance movement. So in particular the Bodhisattva guru's dancing was moderated and less vital. Meanwhile, the movements of the gate master of the graveyard or the demons were quick and highly expressive of the ritual storytelling. Among all the Lama dances of the Khampagar monastery, the most outstanding was the Shanak (the "black hat" dance). Sometimes the movements were very strong, utilizing straight feet actions; at other times it was smooth and elegant. The motions of Shanak dancing differed according to the ritual contents. I like to call it Dharmatic beauty as a Buddhist spiritual.
That beauty is exactly opposite to the performing art of western Christianity, which climaxes in high spirits whereas Buddhist Oriental culture pursues the beauty of moderation and stillness encompassing movements. Beautiful dance movements or skills are not as important to Tibetan Lama rituals as the delivery of the message of the ritual. This is because it is an ideal posture for regional dance rather than simply performance.
Comparing with the cymbals dancing of Korean Buddhist ritual and the court dancing of Cheoyongmu, the purpose and contents are closer to cymbals dancing to protect Buddhist Dharma and the field of the ritual place. However, the Tibetans use Dorje or skeleton symbols or other instruments as dance instruments. The cymbal is only used as a musical accompaniment. Today's Korean Cheoyong dance is different to the Tibetan lama dance but on the documents of Yongjaechonghwa which recorded the customs and folk stories of the Josun dynasty, it is said to share similarities with the goal of Nare; that is to drive out evil spirits in a masked, men's dance. I think it is necessary to research and establish the more clearly related matters between the Korean Buddhist ritual dance, the court dance Cheoyongmu, and the Tibetan lama dance.
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