The Blue Mask performance has developed over centuries into the mainstream Tibetan Opera. [Photo/China Tibet Online]
Tibetan Opera, or Ace Lhamo in Tibetan is an ancient art form that has developed over the centuries. The Tibetan people have long cherished this important aspect of their folk culture and it has become part of who they are. The opera has been deemed as the "living fossil of the Tibetan culture."
Origin of Tibetan Opera
Founded in the 14th Century, the Tibetan Opera boasts a history of over 600 years, about 400 years longer than the Beijing Opera. Near the Gyormolung Village near Lhasa is believed to be the hometown of Tibetan Opera.
There is a beautiful legend about its beginnings. In the 14th century, there was a ruler named Tangdongjiebu. To help his people, he planned to build an iron bridge over every river in Tibet. However, he needed a lot of money so he traveled around Tibet and trying to raise the necessary funds. However, after three years of wandering he still couldn't finance his bridges.
However, his efforts caught the attention of a goddess in Heaven. In one of his dreams, the goddess guided him towards seven beautiful sisters who danced very well.
Tangdongjiebu organized them into a dancing troupe to hold performances in different places to earn money for his bridges. This is believed to be the birth of Tibetan Opera. Tibetan opera became known in the local language as Ajilamu, meaning fairy sisters. Tangdongjiebu himself is considered as the father of Tibetan opera.