The cultural heritage of the Shabdrung
Under the rule and leadership of the Shabdrung various elements of the material and spiritual culture were put together to one system. By that the Shabdrung started the development of an independent Bhutanese cultural identity, which was different from the other states of the Himalayas. At the same time it unified the diverse local cultures of the times before the Shabdrung.
A lot of what Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel had introduced and established, has shaped Bhutan's culture, even into the present. The monastery fortresses, founded by him, have determined the forms and shapes of architecture; they are still the seat of the »dual ruling system« (chösi*) of mundane and religious powers, as established by him. Meanwhile it has been laid down by law that the costume designed by the Shabdrung must be worn at official occasions. The 13 traditional crafts, as classified by the Shabdrung, nowadays receive support and promotion in public programmes.
»Basic rules for disciplined behaviour«
During the mid-1980's some of the cultural values for the consolidation of the unity of the state became law for all people living in Bhutan. The law of the »Basic Rules for Disciplined Behaviour« (driglam namzha*) defines culture and national identity and regulates all areas of the citizens' visible life, such as clothing, architecture, art, but also social behaviour and the organisation of public events. These basic rules, based on religious ideas, are sanctioned through the authority of the monastic founder of the state, the Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel.
On the political level, the Bhutanese culture is accepted as an essential part of the country's national identity, which in turn is again closely linked to the state's sovereignty and security. Bhutanese culture is therefore seen as necessary precondition for the nation state to prosper.