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National Dress of Bhutan

Bhutan's rich cultural aesthetics and traditions are well-known worldwide. This small country differs from other developing countries in a number of ways, including its dress code. To express their distinct identity, the traditional attire for Bhutanese people was initially established by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, who united Bhutan as a nation-state in the 17th century. In an effort to promote and preserve Bhutanese heritage, Bhutanese individuals are required to dress in their traditional outfits. The Driglam Namzha, which loosely translates to "discipline and ethics," also governs how Bhutanese citizens are expected to conduct themselves in public. It creates the standards for appropriate public attire and behavior for formal occasions. This practice has led to a stronger sense of kinship among the locals and a greater connection to the land. People are required to adhere to the national dress code in order to foster a sense of community. In fact, people also wear the national dress in schools, offices, and important events, either as school uniforms or as formal attire.


Image source, Wangda Dorje


Bhutanese men dress to the knees in a robe-like garment that is wrapped over their bodies and neatly fastened with a woven belt called the "kera" or "kerey." It completes their style by adding an accessory to their overall outfit. It comes in a broad variety of styles, hues, and patterns, is widely accessible in Bhutan, and can be worn by both men and women. The garment for men, referred to as "Gho" in Dzongkha, has a pouch-like space in the upper half that is used to store various items, most recently cell phones. They also wear a white shirt-like piece of clothing underneath the gho called the "Tego."


A long silk scarf known as a "Kabney" is often worn by men along with their Ghos. It is typically 90 cm by 300 cm (35 in by 118 in) in size and made up of raw silk. Kabney is worn on important occasions or when visiting a dzong and extends from the left shoulder to the right hip. "Bura" is another name for Kabney, and it means wild silk. These Kabneys have different colors for each individual and are assigned to them based on the rank or position they hold within the country. Every Bhutanese is required to follow this etiquette when meeting higher authorities or at significant national occasions. A yellow scarf is worn by the king of Bhutan. His Kabney is highly distinctive, being the seat of the highest authority in the country. The district administrator dons a red scarf with white stripes, whereas the judge, the highest judicial authority, wears a green Kabney. In Bhutan, the white-colored kabney is reserved for the common people.



Bhutanese women are often seen wearing an apron-like garment known as "Kira." This traditional attire is a long dress that reaches the ankles. Traditional kiras are long and must be pinned at both shoulders, generally with silver brooches called "koma." It is then twisted and folded around the body before being secured at the waist with a long belt. However, we can also find modernly alternated kiras that are comparatively shorter (waist to toe length). Typically, a wonju (long-sleeved shirt) is worn inside the kira and a short jacket, or toego, is worn outside. Toegos and wonju differ from the long robe's pattern, fabric, and color.

Women in Bhutan also pair their traditional outfit, the rachu, with it. Normally, the left shoulder is where it is worn. Some rachus are used to represent women's occupations, much like kabney. The majority of women do, however, wear ruching in various elaborate designs in red. When visiting temples, attending business meetings, greeting senior authorities, and participating in festivals, people wear rachu to demonstrate their respect. We will also be able to see that on important occasions, both men and women, along with children in Bhutan dress in intricately embroidered vibrant hand-woven outfit.


Bhutan has their own unique culture that sets apart it’s place among other nations in the world through a variety of aspects including the clothing culture. The firm ethics and etiquette of Bhutanese disciplinary culture also helps to determine the mannerisms of Bhutanese people at formal and informal settings. Through shared ideals and identities, a deeper sense of unity is developed and Bhutan is definitely able to preserve their identity through both traditional and modernized versions of clothing customs.

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