The history of Bhutan | The monarchy | Jigme Wangchuck | Administrative reform

Administrative reform

One of King Jigme Wangchuck's most prominent tasks was to reform and centralise the administrative system; the power of the provincial rulers had been a serious cause for strife in the previous century. Jigme Wangchuck set in a simply structured hierarchical system over which he had absolute control; all power, religious and secular, was in his hands. He also appointed the Je Khenpo (head abbot) on the suggestion of the central monk-body.

A cabinet with four officials was to assist him: the state minister (zhung kalön), the chief of protocol (zhung drönyer), the chamberlain (zhung gongzim) and, depending on the season, the lord (dzongpön) of either the Thimphu or Punakha Dzongs.


The king also appointed all other high officials who were directly responsible to him. He abolished the post of governor of Dagana and reduced the powers of the Punakha, Thimphu and Wangdi Phodrang Dzongpöns, by appointing himself the officials of the subordinate posts of the chamberlain (zimpön) and the chief of protocol (drönyer). This way he could more effectively control the activities of the lords of dzongs. Moreover, when lords died, their empty posts were no longer filled and gradually the regions came under the king's control, as for instance, with the Paro Dzong after the Dzongpön's death in 1949.

The history of Bhutan
.  Bhutan before ..
.  Shabdrung Ngawang ..
.  The monarchy
.  .  Jigme Namgyel
.  .  Ugyen Wangchuck
.  .  Jigme Wangchuck
.  .  .  Administrative reform
.  .  Jigme Dorje Wangchuck
.  .  Jigme Singye Wangchuck
Bhutans religion
Gods and Sacred ..

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King Jigme Wangchuck is wearing the Raven Crown. The rim of the hat is embroidered with tantric skulls.
Photo by G. Sherriff, 1933; loan from the Museum of Mankind, London

Saddle, silver, filigreed and engraved, varnished wood, coral, leather, silk, cotton, padding; size: 26 cm x 47 cm x 40 cm; loan from the Völkerkundemuseum der Universität Zürich
Saddle of a high aristocrat, most likely a member of the royal family. The front is decorated with a, frequently used and widespread as a decoration, group of dragons and Garuda*.

Cotton velvet, silk damask, cotton fabrics, padding, leather; H: 41 cm, diameter: 22 cm; loan from Anthony Aris
This helmet was most likely worn by the second king, His Majesty Jigme Wangchuck (1905-1952).