The history of Bhutan | Bhutan before unification | Until the establishment of the state | Central Bhutan

Central Bhutan

Guru Rinpoche won central Bhutan very early on for Buddhism. At the end of the ninth century, Buddhist aristocratic families already reigned here; the so-called Dung* aristocracy. Usually, the word dung means »bones«, the Tibetan name for »clan«. But it can also be used as honorary title for noble families. Despite lacking evidence it can be assumed that these families reigned with unlimited power until the eleventh century.

 
The ecclesiastic nobility

In the following centuries, however, the social and political setup underwent tremendous changes. Families, who descended from religious personalities gradually gained political influence. A new aristocracy was in the making - the ecclesiastic nobility (chöje*).

In cental Bhutan the followers of the Nyingmapa school feuded with the representatives of the Drukpa Kagyupa school for political power and were soon able to secure most vital positions in the country for themselves.

The history of Bhutan
.  Bhutan before ..
.  .  Bhutans early history
.  .  First Buddhist temples
.  .  Until the establishme ..
.  .  .  Central Bhutan
.  .  .  .  The Dung families
.  .  .  .  Feud of the schools
.  .  .  Eastern Bhutan
.  .  .  Western Bhutan
.  Shabdrung Ngawang ..
.  The monarchy
Bhutans religion
Gods and Sacred ..


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Mural from the monastic fortress of Prakar. Dawa Gyaltsen was the son of Pema Lingpa. He is taken to be the founder of a noble family who were to shape the political life of central Bhutan in the ensuing centuries.
Photo by Françoise Pommaret