Tibetan Opera

The Tibetan name for Tibetan opera is "Ace Lhamo," which means "fairy sisters."


The Tibetan name for Tibetan opera is “Ace Lhamo,” which means “fairy sisters.” Tibetan opera originated from Tibetan religious art in the 8th century. In the 17th century, it was separated from the temple religious ceremony, and gradually formed a lifestyle performance which was mainly composed of singing, chanting, and dancing. Nowadays, Tibetan opera has become an important part of Tibetan culture and an important entertainment program for Tibet tourism. Many people who travel to Tibet will go to see the Tibetan opera performance.


Tibetan opera is a generic term for Tibetan dramas. The Tibetan opera is a very large opera system, which has a lot of art and genres because of natural conditions, customs, cultural traditions and dialect pronunciation of all over the Qing- Tibet plateau. Tibetan opera originated more than 600 years ago, 400 years earlier than Peking Opera, which is regarded as the quintessence of Chinese culture. Tibetan opera is the mother of Tibetan opera art. It spreads to Tibetan-speaking areas in Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan, and Yunnan provinces through monks and pilgrims who come to Tsang temple for further study.

Formation and propagation

After continuous development and improvement, Tibetan opera has formed its own set of systematic and complete art forms since the 17th century, which is known as a unique type of Chinese opera and is widely spread in Tibetan areas and deeply loved by Tibetan people. In the process of spreading for hundreds of years, many traditional operas have appeared in Tibetan opera. Up to now, the Eight Famous Tibetan Operas are enduring. The performance time of each play varies from a few hours to several days, but each play can be divided into prologue, drama, and farewell blessing ceremony.

Due to the differences in environmental conditions in different regions, Tibetan opera has also gradually formed a variety of sects, mainly including the old white mask sect and the new blue mask sect, as well as monologues. At present, the blue mask sect has the greatest influence.

Wearing masks as the facial makeup of actors is a major feature of Tibetan opera, but as one of Tibetan opera sects, some troupes of Anduo Tibetan opera in southern Qinghai mostly change to directly apply greasepaint on the face to make up, and combine singing, monologues, and dancing more closely, which enhances the dramatic effect.

Inheritance Significance

Tibetan opera has a long history and rigorous performance procedures and plays an irreplaceable role in the spiritual life of the Tibetan people. Due to the strict religious rules and regulations, Tibetan opera was less influenced by the Han culture in the development process and retained its original style from the performance content to the form. Therefore, it has a very high academic value in the field of drama genesis. At the same time, the script of Tibetan opera is also a peak of Tibetan literature, it emphasizes both the rhythm and the artistic conception, using a large number of mottoes, proverbs, and idioms, and even interspersing fables in the plots, keeping the essence of ancient Tibetan literature language. Like the operas in mainland China, Tibetan opera has been caught in the competition with modern art and entertainment forms for audience and performance market. The crisis facing the development of Tibetan opera in various regions calls for the formulation of a plan to protect this ancient minority drama.

Author: Lynn

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