Société Européenne pour l'Etude des Civilisations de l'Himalaya et de l'Asie Centrale
The comic and the sacred in the Newar theatre (Nepal)
Cliché Gérard Toffin
Gérard Toffin, directeur de recherche CNRS, Centre d’études himalayenne
The Newar theatre of the Kathmandu Valley has a written repertoire (in maithili, sanskrit and nepâ bhâshâ, i.e. in newari mainly) of great wealth, especially for the 17th and 18th centuries period. A central role is given to Royal life, hunting, as well as religion.
Some sequences stage gods and have a sacred construction. Although the dialogues have often disappeared, these plays survive even here and there in some localities (Lalitpur, Pharping, Pyangaon until ten years ago).
As in the sanskrit drama of ancient India or Tibet, the comic occupy an important place. It appears in the preamble or in the form of interludes between the narrative scenes. These links between comic and sacred invite us to reflect on the deep affinities between the laughter and the religious (or dramatic) in the traditional and ancient theatres.