A Bhutan Experience

Thimphu shopping2Recent travels brought me to the small incredibly beautiful and serene Kingdom of Bhutan (locally called 'Druk Yul', "land of the thunder dragon") which is nestled 8,000 feet above sea level in the eastern Himalayas. The Bhutanese people treasure and revere their natural environment, country and habitat like no other country I've ever had the pleasure to visit. Bhutan is observed by its inhabitants as a source of all life and the abode of gods and benevolent spirits. They are lovingly devoted and loyal to their royal family of Wangchuck.

No journey to a foreign country I’ve not visited before would be complete without the aquisition of a treasure or five. On this delightful excursion, I was fortunate enough to learn more about the beautiful and pristine country of Bhutan, their gracious hospitable people, culture and the whereabouts and history of a select few locally crafted treasures.

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Bhutan, a mostly Buddhist kingdom (two thirds Buddhist and one quater Hindu) located on the Himalayas’ eastern edge, is known for its monasteries, fortresses (or dzongs) and dramatically beautiful landscapes that range from subtropical plains to steep mountains and valleys. In the high Himalayas, peaks such as Jomolhari (7,326m) are popular internationally famous trekking destinations. Paro Taktsang Monastery, built in the late 17th century and more populary known as the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, clings to sheer cliffs 10,000 feet above sea level and three thousand feet above the forrested Paro Valley. A truly incredible site to experience.

A side note regarding Bhutanese hand crafted artifacts; all are exclusively hand tooled by local artisans. The most common base of materials used is copper, bronze, gold, silver, clay, wood and yak bone. There is also an abundance of colorful precious and semi-precious stones and gems which are used, sometimes profusely, on many objects, either appliqued, imbedded or inset. Older and antique items in Bhutan that have no historical importance to the kingdom or are not property of any institution or monastic body can and are allowed to be used for the purpose of trade. However, it is important to note that each item is fully verified and vetted by the concerned agency to ensure the integrity of both the buyer and the seller. A mark or official seal is provided by this agency upon successful inspection of said object. Most items are heirloom pieces sold by families,and owned for generations who were once wealthy and now desire funds to fulfill modern day requirements such as higher education, housing and etc. The mixture of metals used in the making of these artifacts enhances the preciousness and importance of the piece and is believed that the greater combination of metals, the more valuable its hidden spiritual power.

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