Exhibition to commemorate the 40th birth anniversary of His Majesty The King

Thinley Namgay 

Uzha Jharog Dongchen (the Raven Crown) that Desi Jigme Namgyel wore to war with the British is among many national treasures on display at the ‘Royal Robes – Wangchuck Dynasty’ exhibition at the Royal Textile Academy (RTA) that began yesterday in Thimphu.

The original crown was displayed in line with an exhibition organised by RTA in collaboration with Textile Museum, Department of Culture, to commemorate the 40th birth anniversary of His Majesty The King.

  Namza ghos at the exhibition

Namza ghos at the exhibition

The Raven Crown is the national symbol of monarchy and unity. Lama Jangchhu Tsondu, root guru of Desi Jigme Namgyel designed and consecrated the crown as Jigme Namgyel’s special symbol to be bestowed to his successors.

“The culture of wearing a Raven Crown by the monarchs drew inspiration from this legendary helmet. Moreover, the victories which Jigme Namgyel won over his internal rivals to unify the country and against the British in 1865 are considered magical,” states the description of the Raven Crown in the exhibition catalogue.   

The patron of the RTA, Her Majesty the Gyalyum Sangay Choden Wangchuck inaugurated the exhibition.

In her message conveyed through the foreword of the exhibition catalogue, Her Majesty wrote, “While this exhibition will offer rare glimpses into the private moments in the lives of our Kings, past and present, it will also give the people an opportunity to pay tribute to our selfless monarchs who have made and continues to make extraordinary contributions and sacrifices for the nation and the people of Bhutan.”

Chief Curator of the Textile Museum, Tshering Uden Penjor, said that the ceremonial sword which belonged to Jigme Namgyel, namza kutoe (women’s jacket) of Her Majesty Gyalyum Phuntsho Choden and a child’s jacket of Third Druk Gyalpo are some of the speciality at the exhibition besides the Raven Crown.

The exhibition has namza gho of all the five Druk Gyalpos, namza kira of Her Royal Highness Ashi Wangmo, Her Majesty the Gyalyum Phuntsho Choden, Her Majesty the Royal Grand Mother Kesang Choden Wangchuck, Her Majesty the Gyalyum Sangay Choden Wangchuck and the multi-purpose ceremonial cloth (chagsi Pangkhep) that belonged to Her Majesty the Royal Grand Mother.

Other exhibits are Zhablham collections of the Fourth Druk Gyalpo and His Majesty The King.

Tshering Uden Penjor said that the namza kutoe of Her Majesty Gyalyum Phuntsho Choden and child’s jacket of Third Druk Gyalpo tells a story about mother and a son along with historical facts.

“The weaving tradition in the country dates back to generations, but it gained momentum during the time of second Druk Gyalpo. The skills of the weavers improved during the second King under the patronage of Her Majesty Gyalyum Phuntsho Choden,” she said.

Other items at the exhibition includes different types of hat, namza rachu (women’s shoulder cloth),  gayok (saddle cover), and a pair of cuff links.

The exhibits were contributed by members of the Royal family, RTA, Textile Museum and some are from private individuals on loan.

The exhibition will remain open to public at the RTA for a year, until January next year.

Tshering Uden Penjor also said that under the patron of Her Majesty the Gyalyum Sangay Choden Wangchuck, Bhutanese textiles has been recently recognised as one of the last major arts of Asia to gain international recognition.

Meanwhile, guests at the opening of the exhibition said that they were blessed to see so many rare items on display. “I never thought I would see the Raven Crown in real,” said a guest.

“It is a rare opportunity. Her Majesty’s vision to open the exhibition to the public will give people from all walks of life an opportunity to link with our great leaders though the exhibition.”

Another guest at the inauguration thanked Her Majesty the Gyalyum for reviving and preserving Bhutanese textile as the patron of the RTA. “The rich and unique Bhutanese textiles were on the brink of extinction had it not been for Her Majesty’s timely intervention,” he said.