In those childhood days, we were least bothered to ask the significance of witnessing any kind of mask dance. Now that I attended a tsechu after so many years, I share here a very entertaining story of the dance of Noblemen (Pholey) and Charming Ladies (Moley). It is meant to portray the love and jealousy that naturally exists between couples. Pholey are considered the most handsome men and moley, the most beautiful women and are adorned with so many colorful costumes.
|Pholey Moley Cham at Thimphu Tsechu|
Interestingly, the story originates from my favorite epic of Chogyal Norzang. The epic is about an extraordinarily gorgeous lady, Yidthrokma who was the daughter of the Driza spirit king. She was captured by a hunter in the forest and as a sign of respect for his king, the hunter presented Yidthrokma to his King Norzang who already had 500 queens. Yidthrokma was not only beautiful physically but at heart too and so she gained the maximum love and attention from King Norzang and everyone in the palace. This made the other queens develop hatred and jealousy for her. It is not soon when the other queens along with the palace priest conspire against Yidthrokma. The priest tells King Norzang’s father Norchen that he can foresee a war coming for the kingdom and for that the enemies should be defeated before time. King Norchen commands his son Norzang to go for the war. As commanded King Norzang goes for the war leaving Yidthrokma behind. In the epic, Yidthrokma manages to escape the furious queens’ conspiracy to kill her and she returns back to her father in the absence of King Norzang. When the King arrives from the war, he directly goes in search of Yidthrokma upon knowing the situation that happened in his absence and return back only with his Yidthrokma after undergoing so many hardships. King Norzang wins his love victoriously.
But in the dance of Noblemen and charming ladies, (Pholey Moley) it is portrayed that when the king arrives from the war, he was informed that Yidthrokma had affair with other men, which makes the king jealous and cut her nose. Later on a physician helps her recover the loss of the nose. Two noblemen play the characters of King Norzang and his father Norchen and the two females are their queens. And we even witness agay and angay (Grandfather and grandmother) which conveys the message of everlasting love between couples.
The lengthy dance demonstrates the passions associated with love, attachment, infighting and jealousy and it incorporates lots of funny acts by the agay and angay along with our very own atsaras.