The Vienna Exhibition | Modern monarchy


Object Title
Object Description

Amulet box

Gau, silver, fire-gilding, turquoise; size: 17 cm x 12 cm x 5,5 cm; loan from the National Museum, Paro
A gau, containing prayers, small statues of saints or relics, is worn around the neck for protection while traveling. This piece is made of filigreed and imbossed silver, which is finally partly engraved. Forged ornamental wires were soldered on at the indents on the piece. The precious stones are set in glueing wax.

Making metal ornaments
Female dress

Women's wraparound dress (kira*), excerpt, silk; size: 250 cm x 150 cm; loan from Françoise Pommaret
A kira is made of various lengths of woven cloth sewed together to one rectangular piece of cloth, which is wrapped over a blouse and fixed at the shoulders with fibulas. It is the standard dress for Bhutanese women. The quality of workmanship and of the material vary depending on the occasion of wearing it and the social rank of the woman. Bhutanese weavers are known for their remarkable craftsmanship, especially in the supplementary-weft patterns.

Betel container

Container for betel (bata), silver with fire-gilding, coral; H: 9 cm, diameter: 20 cm; loan from a private collection
A container of this quality and size would have been used by the nobility and high clergy. Chewing betel is wide spread in all social strata, by men and women, who are very fond of the stimulating effect of the betel nut.

The coronation
Aristocratic hat

Hat, silk satin and silk damask, silk and gold embroidery, card strengthening, silk lining; H: 8,5 cm, diameter: 26 cm; loan from Anthony Aris
The dragons embroidered at the rim with silk and gold thread indicate that this hat was worn by a member of the highest aristocracy. The Buddhist wishing jewel is visible at the front.

Ugyen Wangchuck

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).

Administrative reform
Womens clothes

Hat: napped wool, silk brocade and silk cloth, silver lamé, cotton lining; H: 7 cm, diameter: 21 cm; loan from the Museum für Völkerkunde, Wien
Jacket (tögo): silk brocade damask, silk cotton; size: 69 cm x 191 cm; loan from the Museum für Völkerkunde, Wien
Dress (kira*): cotton, silk; size: 248 cm x 133 cm; loan from the Völkerkundemuseum der Universität Zürich
The queens of the first and second kings wore such outfits.

Jigme Wangchuck
Chagsi Pangkheb

Ceremonial textile (chagsi pangkheb), hand-spun silk with colourful weft patterns; size: 272 cm x 79 cm; loan from Anthony Aris
These »cloths for hand-washing« are only used by the upper classes and high clerics at rituals or official occasions. The name, however, has not got anything to do with the use of the cloths: they are placed over tables or hung on the wall behind the seats of high personalities. Cloths with yellow colouring are carried a few steps behind the king at official events.

Internal reforms

Fibula (tinkhab), silver with traces of fire-gilding, turquoise; L: 21 cm
Chain: length: 24 cm; ring: 6,5 cm x 5 cm; loans from a private collection
These fibulas are of royal family provenance. They are to fasten the ladies' wrapover dress (kira*) at the shoulders. The two rings are worked as a couple of fish, a Buddhist symbol of the skill to swim through the ocean of the cycle of rebirths with the help of the Buddhist teachings.

Jigme Dorje Wangchuck
The king

Representation of a king, beaten copper, framed; size: 55 cm x 40 cm; loan from the Museum für Völkerkunde, Wien
This representation of the fourth king, produced in high quantity, shows him in the middle of the country, flanked by the national symbol, the dragon. The dragon gave the name to the state religion (the Drukpa Kagyupa school of Buddhism), as well as the country itself: Druk Yül, the Land of the Dragon.

King and lama
Dagger (Dri Shubchen)

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.

The Western Valleys

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.

The Western Valleys

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 ..

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