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Object Title
Object Description

Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel

Thangka, appliqué and embroidery; early 20th century; size: 428 x 307 cm.; loan from the National Museum, Paro
The Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel is seated in the center, on the left stands the first Bhutanese Je Khenpo*, Pekar Jugne (1604-1672), on the right, the first regent, Desi* Tenzin Drugye (1591-1656). In the second row from the top, to the left, is Naropa, the 10th century Indian master, and on the right, Tsangpa Gyare (1161-1211), founder of the Drukpa Kagyupa school of Buddhism. Directly beneath the Shabdrung is one of his incarnations. The person in the bottom row to the right is the Shabdrungs father, Tenpe Nyima (1567-1619).

The Shabdrungs youth in Tibet
Throne cover

Thrikheb, wool, silk, cotton; size: 152 cm x 70 cm; loan from a private collection
This throne cover for the court or for high lamas shows, as central motive, the »Wheel of Law« symbolising Buddhism. At the top and on the bottom there are appliques of a pair of flying phoenixes and a representation of the wishing jewel.

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.

Tenzin Rabgye

Thangka, cloth applique and silk embroidery; 19th century; H: 270 cm; loan from the National Museums & Galleries on Merseyside, Liverpool
Tenzin Rabgye was a confidant of the Shabdrung's, which was a reason the Shabdrung decided on him as his successor. When the Shabdrung entered his last meditation, he gave the following order: »As soon as he shows the necessary maturity, hand over to him the responsibility for all the important and unimportant monastic affairs.«
When Tenzin Rabgye took over his office as fourth desi*, he left the monastic community to get married and continue the family line

A dark era
The Raven Crown

Usha charok dongcen, Chinese and English silk brocade and silk damask, silk velvet, cotton cloth inside, silk embroidery, silver-plated brass alloy, gilt sheet copper; around 1840; H: 25 cm, diameter: 23 cm; loan from the Royal Government of Bhutan
The blue body of the helmet is embroidered at its side with the legs of a bird, the folded wings of which reach up to the back of the head. The three eyes on the front reminds one of a tsen illustration. The sun-moon symbol, made of metal, is attached to the side of the forehead. Holy Buddhist syllables are engraved in gilt sheet copper right above the forehead. The bird's head is covered by half a vajra*, preserved in pieces only.

The Raven Crown
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

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
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
The founder of the state

Roll picture, applique and silk embroidery; early 19th century; H: 260 cm; loan from the National Museums & Galleries on Merseyside, Liverpool
The founder of the Bhutanese state and of its national identity, the cleric Shabdrung* Ngawang Namgyel, was the first leader of the country in the 17th century. While all secular decisions are nowadays authorised by the king, his power is still built on the Buddhist understanding of the world.

King and lama

Throne cover (thrikheb), napped wool, cotton, silk embroidery; size: 130 cm x 130 cm; loan from the Völkerkundemuseum der Universität Zürich
The raised seats of secular and clerical rulers were covered by richly decorated cloths. A phoenix in the central medallion is alternately surrounded by four dragons and four kinnara, musicians with human upper bodies, wings and birds' legs. The four corners show garudas with tamed snake deities in their beaks. The cover is framed with swastika symbols which stand here for firmness and unalterability. They call upon the person on the throne to stay firmly in this world to guide the living beings to their release from the cycle of rebirths.

Jigme Singye Wangchuck
Hat of the Nyingmapa

Lama hat, silk damask and silk brocade damask, cotton lining; H: 25 cm, B: 29 cm; loan from the National Museum, Paro
This hat is worn by the lamas of the Nyingmapa school. This »School of the Old« puts its focus on the magical and mystical practices of lamaism.

The schools of the Vajrayana
Processional hat of the Drukpa

Lama hat, silk satin with golden paper decoration, silk damask and silk taffeta, starched cotton cloth; H; 29 cm, B: 42 cm; loan from the National Museum, Paro
Hat of the Drukpa Kagyupa school. This school aims for the practical realisation of the yogic teachings to develop a kind of living in accordance with the laws of the universe.

The schools of the Vajrayana
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
Hat of a Medium

Silk brocade with gold thread decoration, embroidery, cotton; height 31 centimeters, width 28 centimeters; on loan from the National Museum of Paro
This hat represents a specific deity. As soon as a medium in trance puts its on, the deity takes possession of him. Man can now come into direct contact with the deity and, for example, receive information about the future or ask for support in the fight against harmful influences.

The Course of the Ritual

Tunic (shingkha), wool, wool and silk applique; length 121 centimeters, width 97 centimeters; on loan from the Völkerkundemuseum der Universität Zürich
Tunics of this kind are nowadays only worn by the women of the Kurtö region at rituals for the mountain gods. The wearers emphasize that this is not everyday wear. In many villages, these are only allowed to be worn by women from the most important families.

The Course of the Ritual
Costumes of the Laya Women

Blouse, wrap skirt and jacket: napped wool fabric, on the jacket are insets of imported Tibetan fabrics; hat (layap bulo): woven bamboo with worked-in bark; boots: napped wool, leather; rich jewelry made out of various materials; on loan from the Museum für Völkerkunde Wien
The Laya are semi-nomadic yak breeders in the mountainous north of Bhutan. Their lifestyle also defines their traditional clothing.

The Laya in the North
Costume of the Brokpa Men

Cap: felt, made so that rain water runs off from the tip; jacket: napped, felted wool fabric; tunic: skin of some type of deer, the side with the fur can be worn inside or outside; pants: napped wool fabric; leggings: leather; boots: wool and leather; on loan from Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup
»Brokpa« means herdsman or nomad and also refers to an ethnic group in the district of Merak Sakteng in East Bhutan.

The East of Bhutan
Costume of the Nepalese Women

Skirt: Indian silk brocade; blouse: synthetic velvet fabric; on loan from the Völkerkundemuseum der Universität Zürich
A large part of the population in the humid south is of Nepalese origin.

The Nepalese
Laya Women's Clothing

The Laya are known for their distinct costumes. The most prominent accessory is a cone-shaped hat made out of bamboo.
Photograph by Erich Lessing

The Laya in the North

The Vienna Exhibition
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