The Vienna Exhibition | The becoming of Bhutan

Object

Object Title
Object Description



Tenpe Nyima

Bronze with fire-gilding, painted; 18th century; H: 16,5 cm.; loan from the Paro National Museum
Tenpe Nyima (1567-1619) was the son of the 17th prince abbot of the Drukpa Kagyupa school in Ralang/Tibet. He made several trips though Bhutan and this helped his son, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, to settle down more easily in Bhutan after his escape from Tibet.

 
Eastern Bhutan
Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel

The Shabdrung, bronze with remains of gilding; 17th century; H: 52 cm.; loan from a private collection.
This unusually large bronze statue of the unifier of the state on the lotus throne wears a hat that is typical for the Drukpa Kagyupa school and the clothes of a monk. The base is decorated with lotus flowers and mythological animals. His right hand shows the symbolic sign for touching the earth, and in his left holds a vase with the elixir of long life.

 
At the end of the road
Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel

The Shabdrung, clay, painted; 17th century; H: 28 cm.; loan from the Sammlung für Völkerkunde, St. Gallen
It's assumed that this statue is a true portrayal of the founder of the state.

 
Ngawang Namgyel, the person
Bhutanese military equipment

Chain mail, iron, leather; size: 120 x 85 cm; loan from the National Museum, Paro
The workmanship of the chain mail reflects a strong Moghul metalworking influence.

 
The Shabdrung as warlord
Bhutanese military equipment

Shield, rhino leather, brass; H: 11 cm, diameter: 44,5 cm; loan from Dasho Sangay Ngedup
The symbol of the sun and the moon in the upper section of the shield stands for method (upaya) and wisdom (prajna). Here it should protect the bearer through its religious power.

 
The Shabdrung as warlord
A common soldiers gear

Shield, bamboo, wood; size: 47 cm x 18 cm;
Helmet, bamboo, wood; size: 26 cm x 18 cm; loans from the National Museum, Paro
Protective objects made of bent reeds and interlaced bamboo were part of the standard equipment of common foot soldiers.

 
Tibetan invasion
The documentation of the strategy

Written document, paper; 17th century;
Pen-case (ngudro), iron, gold and silver applications; L: 37 cm.;
Seal, iron, silver; L: 6,5 cm.; loan from the National Museum, Paro
The text, in cursive, is sealed with six seals and written on hand-made paper. The document is a list of boxes and pieces of luggage that were sent with the move of the head-abbot and his monks from their summer residence in Thimphu to their winter residence in Punakha. The creation of the Bhutanese state was fundamentally influenced by the fact that the administration of the realm was based on a system of writing.

 
The unification of the state
Sword of a noble man

Sword with scabbard and belt, iron, silver, partly gilded; textile, L: 89,5cm; loan from the National Museums & Galleries on Merseyside, Liverpool
The sword is worn attached to a belt decorated with fine silver buckles. Besides being used in war, swords were previously worn as a prestigious symbol of the nobility. Today only those who are knighted as Dasho* (Senior Officer) by the king are allowed to carry one.

 
Blacksmithy
Bhutanese footwear

On the right side of the picture: boots, silk brocade and damask, satin, cotton, leather; size: 51 cm x 28 cm x 10,5 cm; loan from the Museum für Völkerkunde, Wien
Specific pieces of clothing denote the bearer's social standing and rank. These boots are worn by lay religious practitioners (gomchen) of Buddhism.
On the left of the picture: boots, napped wool, silk brocade, cotton, leather; size: 49,5 cm x 27 cm x 10 cm; loan from the Museum für Völkerkunde, Wien
Boots of a senior official who has been awarded his title, »dasho«, by the king.

 
Tailoring
Religious dignitaries

Je Jamyang Gyeltsen, bronze, fire-gilding; 18th century, size: 44 cm x 27 cm x 20 cm; loan from the National Museum of Bhutan
Je Jamyang Gyeltsen lived from 1742 until 1803. He was Bhutan's 18th head abbot. The cleric is represented in the seating position of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas* (vajraparyanka), the hands show the gesture of the »Wheel of Teaching« (dharmacakra mudra). On his head he wears the five-leaved Buddha crown and the hair knot of the tathagatas, as are worn during tantric rites.

 
The dual system of government
A soldiers helmet

Helmet, iron, synthetics, Lurex, viscose rayon; H: 48 cm, diameter: 28 cm; loan from Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup
Soldiers' helmets were padded inside and decorated with a braid in five colours as lucky charm.

 
Jigme Namgyel
Military equiment

Quiver, bamboo, leather: L: 85 cm; loan from Guy van Strydonck
Today archery is the national sport of Bhutanese men. In the wars of the 19th century, bow and arrow was the weapon most often used.

 
Jigme Namgyel
Military equiment

Shield, rhinoceros leather, brass; H: 11 cm, diameter: 44,5 cm; loan from Dasho Sangay Ngedup
The symbols of sun and moon in the upper half of the shield stand for method (upaya*) and wisdom (prajna*) and is intended to protect the bearer by its religious power.

 
Jigme Namgyel
Sword

Silver, iron, animal skin; length 80 cm; on loan from a private collection
Until the beginning of the 20th century swords like this one were used as battle weapons by aristocratic, high-ranking officers. Today, only political dignitaries carry swords on official occasions. Pieces of this quality have been handed down from father to son for generations.

 
Against the British
Military equiment

Spear, wood, iron; L: 180 cm; loan from Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup
Spears were dreaded weapons in close combat.

 
Jigme Namgyel
Saddle

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*.

 
Administrative reform
Royal go

Men's clothes (go*), silk, cotton lining; size: 157 cm x 226 cm; loan from the Museum für Völkerkunde, Wien
This robe was worn by the second king, Jigme Wangchuck (1905-1952).

 
Jigme Wangchuck
Status symbol

Sword with scabbard and belt, iron, silver, partially gilded, textile; L: 89,5 cm; loan from the National Museums & Galleries on Merseyside, Liverpool
The sword is worn attached to a belt decorated with fine silver buckles. Next to their useful value at war, swords used to be seen as status symbol of the aristocracy. Today only those who are knighted as Dasho* (Senior Officer) by the King are allowed to wear it.

 
King and state
Hat of the Drukpa Kagyupa

Lama hat, silk damask, lining of rough woolen material, cowry shell; H: 27 cm, B: 18 cm; loan from the National Museum, Paro
Head lamas of the Drukpa Kagyupa* school wear such hats at certain auspicious occasions, such as processions.

 
The schools of the Vajrayana
A monks Tunic

A monk's tunic (tögag), woolen material with brocade insets; size: 82 cm. x 67cm.; loan from the National Museum, Paro
The tunic is made of fine woollen material died red, with applications of brocade insets. With that a monk wears a wrapover skirt, a vestment and a cape. The fine design points to a high cleric.

 
The schools of the Vajrayana
Garuda

Garuda, excerpt of: horse jewelry; silver, fire-gilded, leather; height 48 centimeters, length 17 centimeters; on loan from the National Museum Paro
 
The jewelry for the head of a royal horse shows, next to the embellishment of Buddhist good luck symbols, dragons, phoenixes and the mythical bird of the gods, the Garuda. The Garuda is also seen as the protector of the Buddhist teachings. Usually he is portrayed with a snake god in his beak.

 
Battle with Shelging Karpo
Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel

Bronze, painted; height 28 centimeters; 17th century; on loan from the National Museum of Paro  
About the founder of the Bhutanese state, stories are also told in which he conquers demons and nature gods.

 
Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel
Bhutanese Weapons for Warfare

Swords, iron blades, silver and brass handles, wooden sheath covered with hide, casing made of wool and cotton, length 93 centimeters; on loan from Tobgye S. Dorje
As real weapons of war these swords have served their duty. Today, however, for the protective deities they are still stored in special altar rooms. During certain rituals they are used for war dances.

 
The Course of the Ritual
Printing block

Wood; measurements 64 x 39 x 5 centimeters; on loan from Françoise Pommaret
The wind carries the prayers, that have been printed on prayer flags with printing blocks like this one, to the gods. The letters are carved into the wood in mirror-writing.

 
In the Mountains



The Vienna Exhibition
.  In the monastery ..
.  Gods and sacred ..
.  The teachings of Buddha
.  The becoming of Bhutan
.  The fortresses - monks ..
.  The way to the throne
.  Modern monarchy
.  Ethnic mosaic
.  The south
.  The midlands
.  The house altar
.  The kitchen
.  The high alpine ..
Handicrafts


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