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Shagi Lochor

Shagi Laymo

The Fencing Dance of Sha


Shagi Lochor being performed at the National Stadium by the local artists.

The story behind the dance tells of how the saint Phajo Drukgom Zhigpo subdued and established peace and happiness for the people of Sha valley. It is performed every three years.

Reasons for selection

This has been selected to make it more popular among the other districts of Bhutan. From Sha valley, this is the only unique form of performing art that is related to one of the founding fathers of Drukpa Kagyu School of Buddhism, in Bhutan the official state religion. Its characteristics are unique and if not preserved, it would be lost, as the artists at the festival are not updated to keep the art alive for posterity.

Area where performed

This unique virile dance form is believed to have been introduced by the 13th century Buddhist Master Phajo Drukgom Zhigpo in the District of Sha, presently the Wangdiphodrang District. While subduing the hostile gods, the saint miraculously made a fence which prevented the evil spirits from escaping. Hence the title of the dance is the Fencing Dance of Sha.

Essential elements of the performing art

Music, Dance, Theatre

Detailed explanation

Shagi Lochor is performed by around 15 male artists. It is performed during the local festival of Sha or Wangdiphodrang District.

The characteristics
Shagi Lochor is performed by the local people of Sha valley, presently known as Wangdiphodrang District, during the local festival every three years to commemorate the establishment of peace and happiness for the people of the valley upon subjugation of the evil spirits by the saint Phajo Drukgom Zhigpo. The dance is lively and vigorous. The dancers play drummaru or double-sided drums with the right hand and bells with the left. The head is ornamented with a ring around which is wound a five-different-coloured silk cloth, which hangs from behind the head up to the hip. The main costume is the gho which again is symbolic of their warriorship to the saint in his activity towards the establishment of peace and happiness and the propagation of dharma, the one and the only source of present well-being and future happiness, for all the sentient beings in general and the people of Sha valley in particular. The performers are also considered the manifestation of the saint himself in many different forms but with the single objective of benefiting the people upon conquering the hostile spirits.

Phojo Drukgom Zhigpo a learned Tantric Buddhist Master came to Bhutan in 1222 in accordance with the prophecy of the great Tsangpa Gyary to spread the teachings of the Drukpa school to the people of Bhutan. It was this noble prophecy that the hostile gods of Sha valley tried to impede. Greatly infuriated, lest the prophecy remained unfulfilled, the saint enacted this dance called Lochor. This dance remains unique to Sha valley alone and is even less known in other parts of Bhutan. Though not widely known and its performance being restricted beyond its place of origin and that to only once in three years, it is now coming to be recognized as one of the unique forms of intangible cultural heritage and one of the principal traditional performing arts.

Publication and textual documentation

not yet available

Audio documentation

not yet available

Visual documentation

not yet available

Institution/organisation involved in preservation and promotion

no information at present

Data provider

Phuntsho Gyeltshen
Royal Academy of Performing Arts
Address: (Special Commission of Performing Arts)Post Box #493 Chubachu, Thimphu, Bhutan