West and Central Bhutan | The Bumthang Province | The Village Household

The Village Household

In most of the villages in Bumthang the woman is the head of the household. The land is passed on from the mother to the daughter. After marriage, the man moves in with his wife.


In this microcosm, the woman manages the finances and determines the time for, as well as the division of, the farm labor. Additionally, she decides over the carrying out of folk religion ceremonies and rituals for the good of the household. For these reasons, the formation of local political opinion and decision-making processes are largely steered by women. It is not unususal that at political events, on district level, up to 90% of those present are women. However, higher over-regional political offices, as well as influential religious positions, are still almost entirely in the hands of men.


The farmers produce mainly for their own subsistence. There are only a few types of labor that are either exclusively performed by men or exclusively carried out by women. Only harrowing and plowing are primarily reserved for the men, whereas weaving and spinning represent typical women's work. However, all of the other farm labor - such as the harvest, the threshing or the transport of products - as well as the cooking and the child-rearing or child-care are performed by both genders.

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

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In front of their house, an old married couple enjoys the last rays of sun and exchanges the latest news with a friend.
Photograph by Christian Schicklgruber

In Bumthang and in other regions of Bhutan a large part of the farm labor is performed by both genders.
Photograph by Christan Schicklgruber

Wood, painted, iron fittings; measurements 38,5 x 65 x 30 centimeters; on loan from Françoise Pommaret
This box is painted with a pair of phoenixes in flight and the Chinese symbol for longevity.

Bamboo; measurements: 16 x 30,5 x 11,5 centimeters or 17 x 27 centimeters; on loan from the Völkerkundemuseum der Universität Zürich

Wood, stone; height 21 centimeters, diameter 14,5 centimeters; on loan from Christof und Marie-Noel Frei-Pont
Mortars of this type are primarily used for the grinding of spices, especially for chiles.