Opera (Lhamo)


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Gar - Court Dance and Music

The form of music and dance, known as gar is reputed to have come to Tibet from Baltistan and Ladakh. The maintenance of a gar dance troupe was a royal prerogative, and the performances took place only on certain special occasions such as Losar or the enthronement of a Dalai Lama. Young boys ' of good lineage and bones, between the ages of seven and fourteen were recruited from the children of middling and well-to-do peasants by the order of the government and were expected to serve for 12 years as a gar performer. The boy' s service was considered as a tax (khral) on his family and the family received tax exemptions on a portion of land in return.

The training, which the boys received, was extremely hard; they rose at dawn and practiced singing and dancing until bedtime. The discipline was severe and they often received beatings. After one and a half years they were considered trained and were then allowed to go to school, and only attend refresher courses every Saturday. They could hope to receive a clerical position in one of the government offices when they grew up.

The gar organization, Gar-pa Kyi-do had about 70-80 members who performed the special music played on the kettle-drums, damma and the double-reed shawms, suna, as well as participating in other instrumental ensembles. After their twelve years of active membership, they left the organization but could be summoned by the gar pön for special performances. TIPA has attempted to revive these practices in exile by creating a ' Culture School' , which recruits young Tibetan children and gives them training in gar as well lhamo and folk dances.

Webpage last updated: 27.03.04
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