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Gartuk and Garpa – classic Tibetan court songs
-[Thursday, February 03, 2005 03:51]
Two Tibetan artists in Australia have recorded classic Tibetan court songs called Gar for the first time in memory of the late Garpon (Master) Pasang Dhondup.

The CD contains 17 songs by Nyima Tashi and Dawa Dolma formerly from the internationally renowned Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts in Dharamsala. Nyima joined TIPA in 1983 and was appointed as senior artiste instruction in 1992. While at TIPA he specialised in Gar and was the last student of the late legend Court Master Pasang Dhondup.

Each of the 17 songs are master piece documenting one of the lesser known traditional Tibetan culture.

Gar was introduced to Tibet in the 17th century by the King of Ladakh who sent a team of artist to pay respect to the 5th Dalai Lama. Impressed by the performance, the Dalai Lama issued a decree to establish a Tibetan group specialising in Gar song and dance.

This was the start of the Tibetan court song and dance group, performing especially for the Dalai Lama’s court as well as on the first day of the Tibetan new year. The Gar was also performed at enthronement of the subsequent Dalai Lamas and regents. Unfortunately, Gar is not widely known even within the Tibetan community as it is only performed during very special ceremonies.

The songs were called Garlu (court song) and the dance was called Gar (court dance), performed by a troupe of thirteen boys called Gartuk-pa. Dressed in beautiful brocade with a traditional head gear, each dancer carry a small axe, a pair of kettle drums and a flute. There are several Gar dances – the Axe dance, Drum dance, Sword dance and Bare Handed dance of which the Axe dance is the most popular one.

Nyima Tashi and Dawa Dolma since arriving in Australia in 2000 have performed at the Sydney Opera House, Art Gallery of NSW and the Australian Institute of Eastern Music's Festival of Asian Music and Dance. The pair have recorded few other CDs on Tibetan music.

Nyima and Tashi can be contacted at: garpanyima@hotmail.com
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