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Tibetan opera (lhamo)

The Tibetan opera (lhamo in the Tibetan language) is an important cultural ingredient in Tibetan social life and is very popular in Tibet, provinces of Sichuan, Qinghai and Yunnan and so on where Tibetans gather densely. This artistic form had strong characteristics of Tibetan Buddhism in terms of expression techniques and contents.

The Tibetan opera originated from a ceremonial dance performed by the Lamaists in exorcism created by Padmasambhava, one of the founders of Tibetan Buddhism in the 8th century, at the Samye Monastery. It is said that Tang Dongjiebu, a monk of Kagyupa (one of the sects of the Tibetan Buddhism), once attempted to build bridges over many rivers of Tibet in the 15th century to serve the masses. He spent 3 years in raising funds without too much success. Later, he found that among his devout followers, there were seven pretty and clever girls who were also good at dancing and singing. Thus, he established a theatrical troupe with the seven girls as the main actresses. The theatrical troupe transformed the Buddhism stories into simple-plotted song-and-dance dramas, and gave performances of the stories in various places in order to raise money and educate people. This is the embryonic form of the Tibetan opera. After the 17th century, the Tibetan opera finally established its own unique form of art.

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