Monastic dances at Gyantse Monastery

Tibet in the 1930s: Theos Bernard's Legacy at UC Berkeley

Monastic dances at Gyantse Monastery

This photograph shows a ritual monastic dance (‘cham) likely witnessed by Theos Bernard during a Saka Dawa ceremony at Gyantse while he waited for permission to enter Lhasa. Saka Dawa celebrates the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and passing into Nirvana; thus, it is one of the holiest times on the Buddhist calendar. The dancers and musicians are all monks, and the dances provide moral lessons and merit to those who watch them.