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"Gyaxie" performance along the Yarlung Zangbo River

By Liu Fang, Zhu Nan Source:China Tibet News 2019年10月16日 09:42

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Photo shows masses performing "Gyaxie" on the grassland. [China Tibet News/Drakpa Wangchen]

Gyaxie has several Tibetan expressions, one of which means "ceremonious song and dance performance". "Gya" has the meaning of "eight" in Saga County of Xigaze City, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region. It is one of the eight major "Xieqin", known as "Xieqin", "Gar", "Droxie", "Gongxie", "Langmarxie", "Soxie", "Goxie" and "Gyaxie". Gyaxie is a kind of ceremonious collective singing and dancing, with distinctive costumes and steady movements, which lets people feel unsophisticated and ardent. Among them, Gyaxie of Saga County's Denggar Town is the most famous one, which is usually performed during the traditional Tibetan New Year and major festivals every year. In 2008, "Denggar Gyaxie" was listed in the second batch of national intangible cultural heritage.

67-year-old Tashi is the 6th generation inheritor of "Gyaxie" in Denggar Town, Saga County, also the inheritor of national intangible cultural heritage representative projects.

On this usual day, he puts on his dancing clothes and walks in front, followed by his lovely little grandson who holds the hat that he wears during dancing. The hat, big and round with dense tassels, looks beautiful at dancing. Taking this hat is a little difficult for the little boy, but he's happy to do it for his grandpa. "Because I like to watch grandpa dancing," he says shyly. In fact, like his grandpa, this little boy loves "Gyaxie" and demands Tashi to teach him when he comes home from school.

Tashi came up with the idea of becoming a "Gyaxie" dancer when he was 8 years old. "I had enjoyed watching people perform 'Gyaxie' since I was a child. When I was 8 years old, I decided to learn from my predecessors. Because at that time, many adults said that I had a very good memory and could remember all movements and act them out in a short time after watching a dance. Besides, I had a swell voice. Therefore, I was chosen by a predecessor." Zasi recalls.

Gyaxie has a history of over 1,000 years. There are 3 versions about the origin of Gyaxie, the first one is dance for celebrating victory; the second one is "ceremonious dance" and the third one is dance for celebrating Princess Wencheng's entering Tibet in the Tang Dynasty. So Gyaxie is not only a type of dance, but also a witness of the unity and friendship between the Han and Tibetan nationalities. According to Tashi, there are more than 30 kinds of programs in Denggar Gyaxie. At present, they are able to dance more than a dozen.

A beautiful 22-year-old girl, Awang Chodron, is one of the Gyaxie dancers. Since "Gyaxie" is known by more and more people and steps onto a broader stage, she decides to join the village's dance team, which is a local team of 107 performers who often perform in other places. "My father is a performer of 'Gyaxie', and an inheritor of regional intangible cultural heritage." She says with a smile.

Each region-level inheritor receives an annual subsidy fund of 10,000 yuan RMB, ranking among the tops nationwidely. Since Tibet's democratic reform, the Party and the state have attached great importance to the protection, inheritance and development of traditional Tibetan culture and made great achievements. Tibet Autonomous Region has established an intangible cultural heritage protection list system consists of state, region, prefecture (city) and county (district) levels. 89 items of Tibet's intangible cultural heritage rank at the state-level, with 96 national inheritors; 460 items are listed at the region-level, with 350 regional inheritors.

Awang Chodron prefers to perform on the grassland, rather than on the stage. "Being on stage I will be nervous, but I feel particularly relaxed and comfortable here." She says. Before the performance begins, she and her companions sit on the grassland dressing up, soon after they are wearing dazzling arrays of jewelry. "I want more people to know Gyaxie." She says. In the future, Awang Chodron hopes that she is able to continue to perform Gyaxie; her love of dancing rooted in her deep heart, will always guide her forward direction.


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