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An Introduction to the Kingdom of Bhutan

A lama of the Drugpa Kagyu order

A lama of the Drugpa Kagyu order, 18801900. Bhutan. Thangka; Silk appliqué and embroidery. The Avery Brundage Collection, B62D34.

Kushitara in Silk Design

Kushitara in Silk Design, 19001990. Bhutan. Cotton and silk. Gift of Edward P. Gerber, M.D., 1990.39.

Map of the Himalayas

Map of the Himalayas.

A lama of the Drugpa Kagyu order
Kushitara in Silk Design
Map of the Himalayas
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Known as the “Land of the Thunder Dragon,” Bhutan is a remote Himalayan kingdom located east of Nepal and west of Burma, between Tibet and India. On its northern border, Bhutan is flanked by some of the tallest mountains in the world.

Unified in the 1600s, Bhutan is the only existing Vajrayana Buddhist kingdom in the world. It is also one of the few countries in Asia that was never colonized. The Vajrayana branch of Buddhism dates back at least to the 700s in Bhutan, when its esoteric teachings were propagated by the great saint Padmasambhava, known in Bhutan as Guru Rinpoche. Bhutan is famous today for the preservation of its traditional culture, its pristine environment, and its official policy of Gross National Happiness (GNH) — in contrast to other countries’ focus on Gross National Product (GNP).