Namkhai (Chutoe) Lhakhang


The founder of the temple is a lama from central Tibet, Namkhai Samdrup, of the Shangpa Kagyu tradition who also founded Ngang Khakhang in the upper Choekhor valley in the 16th century. It was probably restored at the time of the Zhabdrung Sungtrul Chogley Tulku Yeshe Ngodrup (1851-1917) as this Zhabdrung Sungtrul was born in this village.

Architectural style / school and related art works

The temple is a very small stone structure with an enclosed courtyard on its south side.

It contains superb images which can be dated from the construction of the temple (Buddha, Tshepame, Guru Rinpoche) and great masks including the large articulate mask of the Yak Dawala, and those of the two local protectors Goenpo and Goenmo.

Social cultural function

Community temple looked after by a lay caretaker (gomchen). The temple hosts a festival from the 9th to the 11th day of the 10th Bhutanese month.

This three-day annual ritual commemorates the consecration of Namkha lhakhang by Lama Namkha Samdrup, hence the name rabney. It is also performed for the peace and prosperity of the upper Tang valley villages which sponsor it.

While performing the consecration of this temple, Lama Namkha Samdrup saw the Tang local deity Rinchen Gonyak, who is also the cattle deity, coming as a yak and dance in the courtyard. The two other great protective deities Gonmo (Lhamo) and Gonpo join him as they accompanied the lama.

Based on this, Lama Namkha Samdrup instaured the annual event where all the villagers contribute to please the deities. The lama from Thowadra monastery leads the ritual, Thowadra being the residence of the local deity.

The highlights of the festival are the dances of Gonpo, Gonmo (Lhamo), also called Gadpo and Gadmo in Tang and Rinchen Gonyak. These three deities are represented by manneqins wearing huge masks and moved by people. The yak, also simply called Dawala by the villagers, is very popular and his wooden mask has articulate jaws whose clanging is considered a blessing.

Another story says that when Lama Namkha Samdrup was constructing the temple, the local deity (tsomem) of the lake Karbang Tshonag, located above the construction spot, began to create unfavourable conditions. In order to expel the tshomem from the vicinity of the village, he took the form of a yak, the fierce dancing gesture of which threatened the very existence of the tshomem. She left for Zhemgang in the south and the lake in the Buli village under Zhemgang district which presently exists, is said to be the one expelled from Tang valley.