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Culture Express > News Video

Folk artists prepare for Shoton Festival


08-13-2014 19:19 BJT

The annual Shoton Festival, one of the Tibetan ethnic group’s most important festivals, is just around the corner. And in a village in the Brahmaputra River's upper course, Tibetan Opera troupe performers have been preparing for the show.

Tibetan Opera has history of more than 600 years and is sometimes known as “the living fossil of traditional Tibetan culture.”

Tibetan Opera

Tibetan Opera

"I've been performing for decades. Tibetan Opera is now an essential part of my life. It makes me happy when I perform or even think of it," Tibetan Opera performer Tsering Namgyal said.

The troupe’s members are all local to the village, and they all lead self-sufficient lives. Even the costumes they wear are self-made. And this time, they are performing a classic number of Tibetan Opera, a tale of two princes.

Tashi Choephel, 26, has been learning the traditional performing art for 14 years. He plays the younger prince.

"The younger prince is a noble human being. He treats everyone with compassion and sympathy. He helps people wholeheartedly and shares his fortune with others. Everyone loves the character," he said.

Tibetans have long cherished this important folk art, which has become a source of identity for them, even more so in this village where the art was born.  

There is a beautiful legend about Tibetan Opera: During the 14th century, a high-ranking monk and bridge builder named Thangthong Gyalpo decided to build iron bridges across all the major rivers in Tibet, to improve transportation and facilitate pilgrimages.To fund the project, Gyalpo created a singing and dancing group in which he played the cymbals and drums. They performed throughout the region to raise money for his bridge project. This is believed to be the source of the present-day Tibetan Opera.

"I worked really hard on the show, as we are preparing to perform during the Shoton Festival. But I'm really worried that Tibetan Opera will lose its inheritors, because you can't earn much performing these days. More and more people prefer to work outside instead of staying in the village," Choephel said.

After rehearsals, the performers go back to their daily routines in their village, surrounded by iron bridges and historical sites of the palaces that are links to the past and a time when Tibetan Opera was at its peak.

Tibetan Opera

Tibetan Opera


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