Ancient Thunder Dragon Beats

Bhutanese dance groupTashi Delek!  Welcome to the last Shangri-La, the magical moutain kingdom of Bhutan.  Yes, they still have a king – and he is on Facebook.  Wedged in the Himalayas between the two most populous nations on Earth, the land of thunder dragons somehow manages to keep a very low profile and a well-preserved cultural identity.  Miraculously, television wasn’t legalized in Bhutan until 1999, so they were essentially the last country to leave the real world and be hypnotized by the warm electric glow.  Tragic, but inevitable.

Bhutan is so special because it represents the preservation of ancient Tibetan Buddhist culture, now that Tibet has been wiped out by China.  Bhutan was united as a nation in the 17th century by runaway Tibetan lama Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, and has since evolved in isolation.  Perched safely in cliff-side dzongs, the Bhutanese are one of the very few societies to have successfully resisted occupation from outside powers for their entire history.

Taktsang Palphug Monastery, with ample parking for up to 6 thunder dragons

Taktsang Palphug Monastery, with ample parking for up to 6 thunder dragons

Until the last few decades, only traditional (really just another word for ‘local’) music existed in Bhutan.  All traditional music can be divided into Boedra (Tibetan style) or Zhungdra (developed in Bhutan).  This stuff is sacred.  And then there’s rock n roll..

Sure, it’s pretty positive stuff.  So is everything on the young Thimphu-based record label M-Studio. But where will they be in another 20 years?  Death metal thrash dub-step polka?  For now, Bhutan teeters the line between ancient depth and innocent modernity.  May they retain their uniqueness, and dragons; forever.

Hear the soundscape of Bhutan {{HERE}}

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s