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Tibetan Opera  
Tibetan Opera, which means 'fairy' in Tibetan, portrays religious events and biographies of well known people through singing and dancing. It is said that the first Tibetan opera originated in Shannan during the 14 th century. Thangthong Gyalpo, a prestigious monk of the Kagyu Sect, organized the first Tibetan Opera team in Chonggye County and performed operas in order to raise funds for bridge construction.  

There are two schools of Tibetan Opera now. Tibetan Opera in Shannan belongs to the white mask school of opera. The white mask school is characterized by primitive and plain performances descended from the early period. The second school is called the blue mask. It evolved after the white mask school and is symbolized by gorgeous costumes and diversity in voices. Tibetan Opera in Shigatse and Lhasa fall into the blue mask school.  

Time-honored, the white mask Tibetan Opera groups of Shannan enjoy a great deal of prestige in Tibet. On the annual Shoton Festival, a festival of yogurts and Tibetan operas, their performances always rank at the top.  

Choshio Dance  
Dating back over 1,000 years, the Choshio Dance is a dance to frighten away devils and pray for good luck and harvests. It is enjoyed on many important occasions and festivals in Tibet. It is fairly popular in Shannan and Shigatse, although the styles differ slightly depending on the region. In Shannan, the two leading dancers wear white masks. One of the dancers stands in front of the dancing square while the second stands behind it. The other dancers wear long braids, and each carries a small drum fastened on the waist. Accompanied by thunder-like drumbeats, the dancers' braids swirl around with their bodies, creating a spectacular and impressive sight. The Choshio Dance was performed at the inauguration ceremony of the Samye Monastery as well as at the wedding ceremony of Songtsen Gampo and Princess Wencheng.

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