Bhutan’s unique identity is expressed in its well-crafted arts and symbols. The most popular national symbols are its national flag, national anthem, national emblem and mythical Druk (dragon) which featured in all of these three symbols.
The National Flag
The national flag of Bhutan bears the meaning of the country’s statehood and its organization. The flag is divided by yellow and orange triangles with the white dragon flying diagonally. The upper yellow triangle represents the secular tradition and authority of the king while the lower orange part symbolizes the spirituality and religion that together makes the organization of the statehood. The dragon signifies the name of the country displaying purity of the statehood with the prosperity and security of the nation enshrined in the jewels it holds in its claws.
The National Emblem
The emblem is a symbol used in all government publications and signage. The description of the emblem is succinctly provided by the Consitituion of Bhutan, which states:
“Within the circle of the national emblem, two crossed vajras are placed over a lotus. They are flanked on either side by a male and female white dragon. A wish-fulfilling jewel is located above them. There are four other jewels inside the circle where the two vajras intersect. They symbolize the spiritual and secular traditions of the Kingdom based on the four spiritual undertakings of Vajrayana Buddhism. The lotus symbolizes absence of defilements; the wish-fulfilling jewel, the sovereign power of the people; and the two dragons, the name of the Kingdom.”
The National Anthem
The national anthem of Bhutan as composed by Aku Tongmi who was in-charge of the then military brass and the need for such anthem arose at the occasion of the state visit of the first Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, to Bhutan in 1958. The anthem was revised to current six-line version as translated in English as follows:
Druk tsendhen koipi gyelkhap na
Pel loog nyig tensi chongwai gyon
Druk Gyalpo ngadhak rinpochhe
Ku jurmey tenching chhap tsid phel
Chhoe sangye tenpa dar zhing gyel
Bang dekyed nyima shar warr sho.
In the Kingdom of Druk, where cypresses grow
Refuge of the glorious monastic and civil traditions,
The King of Druk, precious sovereign,
His being is eternal, his reign prosperous
The enlightenment teachings thrive and flourish
May the people shine like the sun of peace and happiness!
Archery is the national sport. It was declared the national sport in 1971 when Bhutan joined the United Nations. Bhutan participates in Olympic archery tournaments. The sport in played in most of the government holidays and festivals held across the country. While the men play archery women often play the cheerleading role through their unique talents of distracting the opponents while shooting the arrow.
Takin, also known as goat-antelope, is the national animal and one of the unique breeds of Himalayan region. They are heavy and stockiest animal often seen grazing on the highland pastures. Their large head is made more distinctive by the long, arched nose, and stout horns that are ridged at the base and upward pointed sharp edges.
Blue poppy is the national flower. However, blue poppies do not produce opium. The flower can bear variety of colors like red, pink and white usually found in high altitude lands. It is one of the rare flowers found in the world. Hair-like bristles cover the leaves and stems of the plant to protect them from the cold Himalayan winds. The flower blooms mostly in summer months.
Cypress is the national tree. The tree is grown abundantly in Bhutan. The leaves of the cypress is used to make incense and offering to the gods in Buddhist tradition. So the tree is usually grown mostly around the monasteries and temples in Bhutan.
Bhutan’s national language is called Dzongkha (loosely translated as the “language spoken in fortress”). Fortresses used to be the official seat of governance back then when Zhabdrung, the one who united Bhutan in 16th century, and he introduced this language in the country.