The Dance of the Princes and Princesses (Pholey Moley)

This is certainly one of the Bhutanese public’s best-loved dances and it is also a little lewd!

The written story of King Norzang concerns the king’s love for his favourite queen, Yidrogma, which provokes the jealousy of the other queens. The latter arrange things so that the king goes off to war, and they then force Yidrogma to flee to her father in fear of her life. But when the king returns from battle he soon understands the stratagems of the other queens and begs Yidrogma to come back and live with him, which she finally consents to do.

The popular version of the original story is quite different: two princes go off to war, leaving their wives in the charge of a couple of old servants. As soon as the princes are out of sight, the princesses and the maidservant start romping with the atsaras. When the princes return they are furious and cut off the noses of their wives as punishment. The old servant also cuts off his wife’s nose. Then the princes allow themselves to weaken and they call for a doctor to sew back the noses. Although the doctor gladly sews back the noses of the beautiful princesses, he is far less enthusiastic about sewing on that of the maidservant, who smells awful. In the end all’s well that ends well and everyone is reconciled.

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