A popular form of entertainment in Bhutan, Lozey is the battle of wits and words a poetry tradition in the yak herders of Bhutan. The opponents speak in poetry and verse on subjects such as love, challenge or difference of opinions. The parties use metaphors and symbols to express themselves and try to outdo one another. The content continues until a draw or a winner is declared. It is extremely admired, distinguished and respected art form all over Bhutan. One of the most famous songs, first composed for a Lozey, is the Yak Song. The song touches the heart of the listeners and is very popular among the yak herders. The song is known as ‘Yak Legpai Lhadar Gawo’. It is a heart-wrenching rendition of a yak known as Legpai Lhadar Gawo (which means gorgeous and splendid Yak) about this tragic parting from his master, the yak herder.
The song became so popular that it soon became the talk of the town and almost all the singers sang it and were applauded for the emotions it evoked. Even today, about 50 years after the Lozey champion and the yak herder, Ap Chuni Dorji, composed it in high mountains, the song moves the hearts of the listeners and the haunting music and pitiful story of the yak remains with them forever. The yak talks about his home in the high meadows and snow-capped mountains, how he got attached to his yak herder and bonded with him and how he was ordered to be slaughtered by a ruthless lord for his meat.
The composer of the song Chuni Dorji is now 81 years old and lives, largely forgotten in his remote village, Soe Jangothang. The village is a three- day walk north of Drugyal Dzong. In his prime, he was known as a flirt with the gift of the gab. He was celebrated as an entertainment artist in religious, marriage and other social gatherings and people were afraid of being challenged by him to a duel of lozey. It was said that he could compose a song or a verse on the spot and could make fun of or ridicule almost anyone. His with and sense of humor made him quite popular among Jop (yak herders) families and villages. His yak song was made famous by the royal court singer Late Soe Gup Limchu, who is often mistaken as the original composer of the song.
Late Majesty summoned Chuni Dorji in Phajoding, above Thimphu valley, to sing and he sung so well that he was immediately hired as the royal hunter, singer and composer until 1972 when His Late Majesty passed away. It is said that the original yak song ran for more than one hour. However, today’s youth prefer Rigsar (modern Bhutanese songs) and Lozey is rapidly on its decline. Dorji’s composition earned its place as the theme song in Dzongsar Khyentse Rimpoche’s recent movie ‘Travellers and Magicians’, because of its haunting melody, and reached the world.