The Exhibition in Leiden | Bhutan, Land of the Thunder Dragon

Bhutan, land of the thunder dragon

With the help of numbers and facts, this room offers a first, impressionistic approach to the topic.

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The people of Bhutan called their country »Druk-yul«, the »Land of the Thunder Dragon«. The term »Druk«(thunder dragon) refers likewise to the school of Buddhism which became dominant in Bhutan from the 17th century. Tradition explains that when the first monastery of this school was being consecrated, a thunder which popular beliefs hold to be the voice of the Dragon, was heard. Consequent to this good omen, the monastery was named »Druk«, and its associated religious school came to be known as »Druk-pa«, an offshoot of the Kagyupa. It was a high cleric of this Druk-pa school who came to Bhutan in 1616 and united the country. He called it »Druk-yul«. An image of the Dragon, the mighty spirit of thunder, rain and fertility, graces the national flag of Bhutan as well as the royal banner today. The Thunder Dragon (Druk) represents the country (Druk-yul), the religion (Druk-pa), and the King (Druk-Gyalpo). Bhutan is situated in the eastern Himalayas, between India and China ( Tibet). The country covers approximately 46,000 square kilometers. Its terrain rises in altitude from a few hundred meters in the south to several thousand meters high glacial peaks in the north. The country can be horizontally divided into 3 ecological zones , with mountain chains forming barriers between different fluvial valleys. Climatic variations ranging from the sub-tropical to the Alpine, make Bhutan exceptionally rich in flora and fauna. The economy of Bhutan is essentially based on agriculture and cattle-rearing. Two-thirds of the country still consists of forests and unspoiled nature. Ideologically, industrial progress is considered as subservient to the preservation of Nature that nourishes the country, and enhances the quality of life and its spiritual welfare.