The National Flag of Bhutan is diagonally divided into two equal halves of golden-yellow and saffron-orange. The upper half of golden-yellow symbolizes the secular power of the King; and the lower half of saffron-orange symbolizes Buddhism which is the state religion. The white dragon which flies upwards through the flag represents the country and its purity. The jewels in its claws are symbols of wealth and perfection.
The national game of Bhutan is archery. It is an exclusively male domain sport although women do take an active role in the tradition of dancing and mocking their opponents. Women often pass on cynical and hilarious comments and distract the archers from hitting the target. Bhutan also has an Olympic archery team. Archery is usually played during festivals and holidays. Imported compound bows are very popular today.
The national emblem is contained inside a circle with two dragons framing a double diamond thunderbolt placed atop a lotus flower surmounted by a jewel. The thunderbolt (Dorji) is a symbol of religious and secular harmony and the jewels represents sovereign power. The lotus represents purity. The two dragons call out the name of the country, Druk Yul or Land of the Thunder Dragon.
The Raven (Corvus corax) is Bhutan’s national bird. It is depicted on the crown of the Kings and it represents the deity Gonpo Jarodongchen who along with Yeshey Gonpo (Mahakala) and Palden Lhamo (Mahakali) are the most powerful protecting deities of the country who protects the king, country and the people from all evil harms.
Takin is the national animal of Bhutan. The taken (Budorcas taxicolor) is an extremely rare bovid mammal of the ovine-caprine family. It lives in herds and is found in the higher reaches on the north-western and north-eastern parts of the country. It feeds on herbs, shrubs and bamboos. Locally it is known as Dong Gyem Tsey.
Blue Poppy (Meconopsis grandis) is the national flower of Bhutan. It is found in the high alpine meadows above the tree line. It blooms to a delicate bluish or purplish tinged blossom in the spring. Ironically, the flower was first discovered in 1933 by George Sherriff, a British Botanist in a remote part of eastern Bhutan.
The national tree of Bhutan is the Cypress (Cupressus corneyana) – or Tsenden shing as it is called locally. Cypresses are found throughout the country and it is a common feature near religious places and Dzongs. Its ability to thrive in dry harsh terrain speaks for its bravery and humility.
The national dress of Bhutan is called Gho for men and Kira for women. It was introduced in the 17th century by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to provide a unique national identity for the Bhutanese people. All Bhutanese are required to wear the national dress in government offices, religious places, Dzongs and on all formal occasions. The Gho is a long robe hoisted at knee level and held in place by a Kera (a woven cloth belt) wound tightly around the waist. This forms the infamous ‘world’s largest pocket’ where men store their mobile phones, wallet, Doma container, and even traditional wooden bowls.
The Kira is a heel length rectangular piece of cloth wrapped around the body over a thin blouse called Wonju. The Kira is held in place by a brooch-like hook known as Koma. Like Gho, it is also fastened tightly around the waist by a Kera. Finally, a jacket-like coat known as Tego is worn over the Kira.