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National Symbols

The National flag is divided diagonally into two equal ….halves. The upper yellow half signifies the secular power and authority of the king while the lower saffron-orange symbolizes the practice of religion and the power of Buddhism, manifested in the tradition of Drukpa Kagyu. The dragon signifies the name and the purity of the country while the jewels in its jeweled claws stand for the wealth and perfection of the country.

The national sport is the Archery (Dha). The bow and arrow play a significant role in many Bhutanese myths and legends; images of the gods holding a bow and arrows are considered especially favorable. Archery was declared the national sport in 1971 when Bhutan became a member of the United Nations. Bhutan also maintains an Olympic archery team. Archery tournaments and .competitions are held throughout the country. Archery is played during religious and secular public holidays in Bhutan, local festivals (tsechu), between public ministries and departments, and between the dzongkhag and the regional teams.

The National Emblem of Bhutan is a circle that projects a double diamond thunderbolt placed above the lotus. There is a jewel on all sides with two dragons on the vertical sides. The thunderbolts represent the harmony between secular and religious power while the lotus symbolizes purity. The jewel signifies the sovereign power while the two dragons (male and female) represent the name of the country DrukYul or the Land of the Dragon.

The national bird is the raven. It adorns the royal crown. The raven represents the deity Gonpo Jarodongchen (raven headed Mahakala), one of the chief guardian deities of Bhutan.

The national animal is the Takin (Burdorcas taxicolor) that is associated with religious history and mythology. It is a very rare mammal with a thick neck and short muscular legs. It lives in groups and is found above 4000 meters on the north- western and far north eastern parts of the country. They feed on bamboo. The adult Takin can weigh over 200kgs.

The national flower is the Blue Poppy (Meconopsis Grandis).
It is a delicate blue or purple tinged blossom with a white filament. It grows to a height of 1 meter, and is found above the tree line (3500-4500 meters) on rocky mountain terrain. It was discovered in 1933 by a British Botanist, George Sherriff in a remote part of Sakteng in eastern Bhutan.

The national tree is the cypress (Cupressus torolusa).
Cypresses are found in abundance and one may notice large cypresses near temples and monasteries. This tree is found in the temperate climate zone, between 1800 and 3500 m. Its capacity to survive on rugged harsh terrain is compared to bravery and simplicity.

National Dress of Bhutan
‘Gho’ is the national dress for men in Bhutan. It is a long robe hoisted up until it is knee-length. The hoisted cloth is held in place with a woven cloth belt called ‘Kera’ wound tightly around the waist. The hoisted up cloth forms a large pouch, in which certain items could be kept such as the traditional bowl and betel nut. National dress for Bhutanese women is ‘Kira’. Kira looks like an apron. It is generally made of fine woven fabric, is adorned with traditional patterns and is mostly worn in bright colors. The intricately woven Kiras enhance the beauty and the graceful manners of the women of Bhutan and compliment their dark looks perfectly. Women wear ‘Kira’ over a blouse called ‘Wonju’. Kira is a floor-length rectangular piece of cloth wrapped around the body and held from the shoulders by broach-like hooks called ‘Koma’.

Women also use ‘Kera’ to fasten Kiras around the waist. Women also wear ‘Toego’ along with Kiras, which are short and open jacket-like garments. Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal introduced national dresses for men and women during the 17th century in an attempt to lend a unique identity to the people of Bhutan. All Bhutanese citizens are required to observe the national dress code, known as Driglam Namzha, while in public during daylight hours. All Bhutanese have to wear their national dress in government offices, schools and all formal occasions. It was always customary to wear it but since 1990, it has been the law of the land and police may fine any Bhutanese who is not wearing official national dress in public. The law is said to be an effort to preserve and promote Bhutan’s cultural heritage.