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Department of the Study of Religions

Mr Thomas Staniforth



Thomas Staniforth
Mr Thomas Staniforth
Email address:
Thesis title:
Movements of the Thunderbolt: 'Cham Choreography and Transmission in the Himalayan Region.
Internal Supervisors

PhD Research

My PhD research explores the choreography and transmission of Tibetan religious dances ('cham) in the Himalayan region. This involves a threefold approach, namely the documentation and analysis of textual sources of choreography, modern methods of transmission, and an examination of the development and preservation techniques in the Himalayan region. My research addresses fundamental problematic issues with transmitting religious traditions, which require both performative accuracy and esoteric secrecy in teaching. In analysing both the practical and textual basis for the transmission of Tibetan religious dances, this research seeks to map this process to date, as well as provide a basis for further comparative studies of religious dance traditions in the Himalayan region. The fieldwork for this project is currently being carried out at major monasteries in the Nepalese Himalayas with the support of Kathmandu University and the Rangjung Yeshe Institute in Boudhanath, Kathmandu.


  • Kathmandu University, Centre for Buddhist Studies
  • Rangjung Yeshe Institute, Boudhanath, Kathmandu


Expertise in religious performance traditions of the Himalayan region. Language specialism in modern colloquial Tibetan (Lhasa dialect) and Nepali. Experience also held in classical Tibetan and Sanskrit.