Introducing Samye Institute's Vajrayana Membership

Dung Chen

The most remarkable instrument in Tibetan ritual music is the long trumpet known as dung chen.
Nuns playing dung chen at Nagi Gompa. Image courtesy of Jampa Palden.

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The most remarkable instrument in Tibetan ritual music is the long trumpet known as dung chen. This instrument is played by passing air through pressed lips down a long slightly flaring tube. It is probably the best-known instrument due to its deep, low and quite resonant sound. It may remind observers of long Alpen horns.

Generally, dung chens are dark in color and decorated with elegant scrolled metalwork and engravings. Most dung chen are made of three telescoping sections. Thus, they can be more easily transported into the shrine hall or onto the roof of monasteries. Customarily these impressive instruments are played to welcome high lamas and rinpoches to a monastery or temple. When played inside the temple, the players usually prop the dung chen up onto a small wooden frame. During outdoor processions or festivals, two or three assistants may help the musician carry them.

Nuns playing dung chen at Nagi Gompa. Image courtesy of Jampa Palden.

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