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Sherong Drongtse: "living fossil" of Tibetan intangible cultural heritage

By Liu Fang, Zhi Xinghua Source:China Tibet News 2019年10月21日 10:44

During this year's Shoton Festival, the "Drongtse" performance team of Sherong Village, Quxu County, Lhasa City, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region has performed again in the Dzongyab Lukhang Park. Although the performance time is not long, the meaning of happiness, blessing and auspiciousness makes it an indispensable program.

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Photo shows the performance of Sherong "Drongtse". [China Tibet News/Li Sirui, Migmar, Kelsang Lhundrop, Xu Yang]

"Drong" and "tse" in Tibetan mean "wild ox", "dance" or "play" respectively. "Drongtse" is an art form that integrates singing, voice-over and dancing. In 2011, Sherong "Drongtse" has been included in the national intangible cultural heritage list after being declared by Quxu County Government. In 2012, Samdrup, the seventh generation inheritor of "Drongtse" has become the representative inheritor of the fourth batch of national intangible cultural heritage projects.

From the age of 18, under the guidance of Chasi, who is the sixth generation inheritor of "Drongtse", Samdrup has learned the skills of performing and making props. Thus, he has carried forward this art for more than 40 years.

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Photo shows the group picture of inheritors of Sherong "Drongtse". [China Tibet News/Li Sirui, Migmar, Kelsang Lhundrop, Xu Yang]

Samdrup introduces that Sherong "Drongtse" has been created in the 17th century. Through the anthropomorphic way of depicting two wild oxen who are not afraid of snow and hardships, clearing the road on the top of Gugala Mountain to open up the road for people, Sherong "Drongtse" has shaped the hard-working, brave and unyielding character of the people on the snowy plateau, and showed their spirit of helping others.

In addition, Sherong "Drongtse" has a close connection with Tibetan opera. The raw materials of performing clothes of "Drongtse" are all Pulu (Tibet wool). Props include cymbals, drums, Tibetan opera masks, colorful flag poles and so on.

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Photo shows Samdrup who is the seventh generation inheritor of Sherong "Drongtse", a national intangible cultural heritage. [China Tibet News/Li Sirui, Migmar, Kelsang Lhundrop, Xu Yang]

"Now the 'Drongtse' performance team not only performs during the Ongkor Festival in our village, but also is invited to perform in various celebrations," says Samdrup.

"Most young people go out to work to earn more money. Performing 'Drongtse' doesn't have much income yet, so young people seldom care about this folk art," says Samdrup. As the inheritor, Samdrup is clear about his responsibility. He believes that innovation should be carried out on the basis of retaining original features, so as to enhance the popularity of "Drongtse".

Under the efforts of Samdrup, many local young adults begin to learn "Drongtse". "Training more young people who can play and dance can enrich the performing forms of art," says Samdrup. In addition, bold innovations have been made in the way of communication, using new media means such as Douyin, WeChat and live broadcast platforms to attract young people's attention and further expand the influence.

"I believe that in the future, the popularity of 'Drongtse' will be more and more high. As a unique label of Tibetan intangible cultural heritage, I have a deeper expectation and vision for its inheritance and development," says Samdrup.

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