The history of Bhutan | The monarchy | Jigme Namgyel | The Raven Crown

The Raven Crown

For the Bhutanese Jigme Namgyel's success was not only due to his human strengths; the protective deity of the Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, Mahakala, also played a crucial role. As it were, Mahakala helped a second time to found the state of Bhutan. The external sign of the role of the old deity was the »Raven Crown«, in which Mahakala manifests himself in his appearance with a raven's head (legön jaro dongchen).



Jigme Namgyel's personal guru, Lama Jangchub Tsöndrö, made the Raven Crown especially for his pupil. The moment Jigme Namgyel wore it, he was under Mahakala's protection and shared his powers. Therefore, he wore the Raven Crown at war; luck actually never left him when in battle.

For the Raven Crown Lama Jangchub Tsöndrö combined a classic soldier's helmet with Mahakala's raven head. On its tip, the Raven Crown has a raven made of cloth. The body of the hat reminds of the old type of war helmet and thus offers a direct association with the warlike Dralha deities. In this way Mahakala also physically leads the war deities. The crown's bearer can be certain of the gods' protection, power and might.

This headgear of Jigme Namgyel's is a direct precursor of the later Crown of the King, on the top of which is also a raven head.

The history of Bhutan
.  Bhutan before ..
.  Shabdrung Ngawang ..
.  The monarchy
.  .  Jigme Namgyel
.  .  .  Against the British
.  .  .  The Raven Crown
.  .  Ugyen Wangchuck
.  .  Jigme Wangchuck
.  .  Jigme Dorje Wangchuck
.  .  Jigme Singye Wangchuck
Bhutans religion
Gods and Sacred ..

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Usha charok dongcen, Chinese and English silk brocade and silk damask, silk velvet, cotton cloth inside, silk embroidery, silver-plated brass alloy, gilt sheet copper; around 1840; H: 25 cm, diameter: 23 cm; loan from the Royal Government of Bhutan
The blue body of the helmet is embroidered at its side with the legs of a bird, the folded wings of which reach up to the back of the head. The three eyes on the front reminds one of a tsen illustration. The sun-moon symbol, made of metal, is attached to the side of the forehead. Holy Buddhist syllables are engraved in gilt sheet copper right above the forehead. The bird's head is covered by half a vajra*, preserved in pieces only.

Mural from the Temple of Dungtse in the Paro valley
The protective god Mahakala manifests himself with a raven head in Legön Jaro Dongchen.
Photo by Françoise Pommaret