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Monastery Dance 'Changmo'

Two genre of religious dance prevail in Tibetan-inhabited areas. The one is prayer and devil dance performed during originally sacrificial ceremonies, and the other is a monastery dance called "Changmo", or "religious dance" and "Lama devil dance". A scripture reciting and sacrificial ceremony is held before the "Changmo" is performed. An "iron stick lama" leads the honor guard onto the stage and then an accomplished monk, holding a bundle of joss sticks in both hands, and two children carrying an incense burner, escorted by two monks, appear. The black-capped Shikkongo Shin, the Buddhist Guardian, god of the ox, god of the deer, devils and Masters of Sitavana acted by monks wearing masks, capes decorated with color ribbons and holding a sword, shield and musical instruments in their hands, circle the stage and respectively perform various religious dances such as quiescent dance, angry Shikkongo Shin dance, the solemn ox god and deer dance, longevity god dance and Masters of Sitavana dance symbolizing the soul flying up to heaven.

Historically, the lama devil dance was performed during the Bon religious ceremonies, but only after Master Padmasambhava entered Tibet (in the 8th century), was the dance art systemized in a professional form. Absorbing the best features of the beast-mask dance of the Bon devil dance, and based on the "Shikkongo Shin Dance" of the Yoga, Master Padmasambhava created the Buddhist dance of "Changmo" and then held a devil dance prayer festival to celebrate the completion of Samye Monastery, which is regarded as its birthplace. With the dissemination of Tibetan Buddhism, "Changmo" spread to other major monasteries in various areas of Tibet (1957)

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