Losel Doll Museum in Dharamshala: a scene from deer dance

Deer (cham) dance: A monk dressed as a deer cuts a dough figure that symbolizes evils and obstacles in Tibetan mythology.


Deer dance is a type of cham dance, a tantric ritual. The deer dance is performed in a group or solo. The tradition of tantric ritual dances was popular in Tibet during eleventh century. The monks performed the dances on special occasions.


The monks wear costumes of brocade and colorful masks symbolizing different aspects of gods and goddesses. They portray the dreams of the enlightened lamas through the costumes, masks, and dance movements.


The exhibit from the Losel Doll Museum in Dharamshala shows deer dance performed on the last but one day of the traditional Tibetan calendar.


Highlight of the dance is a monk wearing a deer mask cuts the figure made of dough that represents evils and obstacles. This New Year celebration is still enacted in various festivals held in the lands of lamas and monks.

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