West and Central Bhutan | The Western Valleys

The Western Valleys

The four main valleys of West Bhutan - the Paro, Ha, Thimphu and Punakha valleys run in a north-south direction, so that each of these separate valley populations had lively trade relationships with Tibet and India, but had only limited contact amongst each other.


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An exception is the relationship between the Thimphu and the Punakha. Already for a long time the state clergy and the royal family, together with their royal household, spent their winter months, not in the higher located capital of their province, but in the much warmer Punakha. For this reason, wealthy families from Thimphu often own and lease land and animals in Punakha, which are then cared for by hired herders.


Since in the high valley of Ha no rice can be cultivated, the inhabitants of this region, who mainly pursue animal breeding, are in this respect dependent upon the Paro Valley. At the time of the rice harvest, now as then, they migrate to Paro in order to help with the harvesting of the grain and the replanting of the rice bushels. As payment they recieve rice, which their horses and yaks carry back home to Ha.

The Laya in the North
The East of Bhutan
The Sub-Tropical South
West and Central Bhutan
.  The Western Valleys
.  The Bumthang Province

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Bamboo; height 54 centimeters, diameter 42 centimeters; on loan from the Völkerkundemuseum der Universität Zürich
Baskets woven out of bamboo are usually placed in the kitchen and are filled with flour and cereals.

Clay; height 23 centimeters, diameter 20 centimeters; on loan from Christof and Marie-Noel Frei-Pont
More and more, clay teapots are being replaced by cheaper, imported aluminum ware.

Blade: chrome-plated iron, handle: perforated gold, handle knob: iron with hammered on metal inlays, sheath: brass, perforated silver and gold; measurements 30 x 5 centimeters; on loan from the National Museum Paro
Bhutan is famous for its elaborately crafted daggers.

Copper, brass, silver; measurements 41 x 42 centimeters; on loan from the National Museum Paro
The dragon-shaped handle is made of chased brass and silver. The spout depicts a horned Makara, an animal which is associated with the ocean and which originated in Indian mythology. It embodies the life-giving force of water and should protect against misfortune. This pot was owned by royalty.