Among the Tibetan people, drums are an important part of the accompaniment for religious and social dances and for dances by special performers. In the Qinghai-Tibet plateau region, large cylindrical drums with cowhide heads, low and resonant in tone, were once an important part of the ceremonial equipment of every monastery. In religious rituals, dancers in the masks of gods, demons and animals writhed and strutted to frighten onlookers and impress them with the power of these “spirits”. Potent music was provided by the deep-toned big drums, smaller drums with sharper notes, bronze horns, trumpets and cymbals.
A folk dance popular among the herdsmen of the Sichuan-Tibetan grasslands is performed by women holding small drums with handles and sheepskin heads and men carrying bells. Holding the drums in their left hands, the women beat out the time with curved drumsticks held in their right. The sound of the men’s bronze bells intertwine with the beat, and the result is very lively dance music.
In an area near the Himalaya Mountains, one folk dance has been performed for over a thousand years. Male dancers in colorful dress with small drums fastened to their waists run and leap while beating out tattoos with the drumsticks held in both hands. In many Xigaze dances, the drums are played on the sidelines in harmony with the bells tied to the performers’ ankles .
Some ancient dances, done to the sound of drumbeats and large cymbals, feature dancers in the masks of wild bulls and other creatures. These once obviously had religious significance, and are performed with gusto in a style distinctively Tibetan.
It's interesting to learn these Tibetan art forms before your trip to Tibet, just as appealing as the Tibetan scenery attractions.