Adventure. Culture. Nature
Alpine Bhutan Travel
Books on Bhutan
Raven Crown: The Origins of Buddhist Monarchy in Bhutan
The definitive history of Bhutan's monarchy. Aris, who lived in Bhutan from 1967 to 1972, is a leading western authority on Bhutan's history. The book is lavishly illustrated with rare photographs of the early days of Bhutan that help show what a unique civilisation existed in the early 20th century.
the old feudal Theocracy that left Bhutan in the turmoil of civil strives,
the world's recent kingship arose bringing peace and stability. The first
king of the new dynasty, Ugyen Wangchuk (1862-1926), was a charismatic
figure who came to power against a turbulent background of incessant and
complex feuding. He adopted as the unique symbol of his authority a crown
surmounted by the head of a raven. The bird represents a form of Mahakala,
Bhutan's guardian deity. The prototype of the founding monarch's Raven
Crown had first been devised as a battle helmet for his father, Jigme
Namgyel (1825-81). Known as the Black Regent, he had worn it in bloody
struggles against his many rivals within the country and against the
British who tried, unsuccessfully, to subdue him.
The story of the Wangchuk dynasty's rise and triumph moves from a picture of turmoil and chaos to one of relative peace and stability. In contrast with earlier published accounts based solely on the colonial records of British India, here the narrative is founded on the Bhutanese chronicles which offer a new perspective and bring many new details to light.
Bhutan - Mountain Fortress of the Gods
A coffee-table book providing documentation for a 1998 Bhutanese exhibition in Vienna. Edited by Christian Schicklgruber & Françoise Pommaret, it has extensive illustrations and excellent information.
Views of Medieval Bhutan
In 1783 Warren Hastings sent a second embassy to Tibet and to the isolated Buddhist state which survives today as the Kingdom of Bhutan. Samuel Davis, a young lieutenant in the Bengal Army, accompanied the mission as draftsman and surveyor. Although he was denied access to Tibet, David spent several months in Bhutan, and fifty-nine of his original drawings of that country have recently been traced by Michael Aris to collections in India, the United States and England. The finest of these hitherto unpublished views form the main content of this book.
Dragon's Gift: The Sacred Arts of Bhutan
catalogue accompanies The Dragon's Gift: The Sacred Arts of Bhutan, one of
the most highly anticipated exhibitions of Buddhist art to be held in
recent times. For over five years, the Honolulu Academy of Arts, under the
direction of Dr. Stephen Little, has conducted ambitious fieldwork and
research in Bhutan. Enjoying a close working relationship with the Royal
Government of Bhutan, the Honolulu Academy of Arts research teams have
been given unprecedented access to the nation’s treasuries of sacred art
Dragon's Gift offers a rare opportunity to introduce, to the wider
international audience, some of the most sacred Buddhist images of Bhutan.
From the wealth of material surveyed, the organizers of the exhibition
have selected over one hundred objects of superior aesthetic achievement
and deep religious significance, the vast majority of which have never
before been seen in the West. Nearly all of the works of art presented in
this catalogue are from active temples and monasteries and remain in
ritual use. Most of the items are painted or textile thangkas or gilt
bronze sculptures which date primarily from the 17th to the 19th centuries
– a golden age in the Buddhist arts of Bhutan. Ranging from depictions
of Tantric deities to individualized portraits of Buddhist masters, the
exhibition and catalogue present outstanding works of art with a wide
iconographic scope. For the Buddhist people of Bhutan, these sacred items
are conceived as supports along the journey to enlightenment, and are of
vital spiritual significance.
Complementing the presentation of sacred works of art is the documentation of the ancient Cham dances of Bhutan, to which the dance preservation team was given privileged entrée. Having documented over three hundred hours of sacred and secular dances, they have made a first assay of one of the few surviving treasures of the trans-Himalayan movement tradition. These differing approaches to the visual and moving arts provide further insight into the unique experience of Buddhism in Bhutan.
brief sampling of the variety of extant dance lineages – some many
centuries old – is included on the DVD contained within the catalogue.
Beautifully illustrated, the catalogue also includes twelve essays contributed by leading Bhutanese and Western scholars, covering various aspects of the Bhutanese arts. Contributors include: Dr. Stephen Little, Ven. Lopön Pemala, Ven. Khenpo Phuntsok Tashi, Terese Tse Bartholomew, John Johnston, Dr. Karma Phuntsho, Dr. David Jackson, Dr. John A. Ardussi, Dr. Yonten Dargye, Dr. Per K. Sørensen, Dorji Yangki, Ephraim Jose, Mark Fenn, and Joseph Houseal.
Hidden Lands of Happiness
folksongs sometimes sing of beyul—hidden lands that can only be
seen by those of pure heart and mind. Tucked into the towering peaks and
steeply forested valleys of the Eastern Himalayas, the Bhutanese believe
their country to be such a place.
Hidden Lands of Happiness is a geographical and cultural passage from the
yak pastures along the Tibetan border to the rice lands in central Bhutan.
Guiding the reader through the districts of Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Gasa,
Laya, Lunana, Wangdi, Bumthang and Trongsa, the book reveals remote hot
springs and isolated hermitages and ends in the streets and nightclubs of
the country’s capital, Thimphu Town. 108 black and white images narrated
with stories, journal entries, folklore, dharma teachings and oral history
create a portal across centuries. Clear, skillfully composed and rich in
depth and detail, these flawless images illustrate an intimate tale of
Bhutan told by an artist who is deeply familiar with his subject.
the Land of the Thunder Dragon: Textile Arts of Bhutan
textiles are among the last of the major arts of Asia to gain recognition
in the West, and this is the first book to present this outstanding art
form in its cultural and historical context. Bhutan's textiles, especially
the intricate brocades and complex supplementary-warp patterns, are
unmatched anywhere in the world. This art, with a steadily growing and
devoted following in the West and Japan, has become Bhutan's most powerful
volume, first published in 1994 (now reprinted in 2008) in conjunction
with a special exhibition organized by the Peabody Essex Museum of Salem,
Massachusetts, covers all aspects of Bhutan's textiles and weaving
heritage, from the central role of women - more than 80 percent of
Bhutanese women contribute to their household's income by weaving - to
fibers, dyes, and looms, to the functioning of beautiful cloth as an item
of trade and an indicator of historical change and social identity. This
copiously illustrated book reveals the richness, originality, and striking
beauty of Bhutanese textiles. Examples come from the Peabody Essex Museum,
which holds the largest such collection of any North American museum, and
public and private collections in Bhutan, the United States, Canada, and
the United Kingdom. The illustrations are supplemented by field
photographs and rare archival images.
Rainbows and Clouds : The Life of Yab Ugyen Dorji as told to his Daughter
Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck
in the remote and little-known Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, this biography
of Yab Ugyen Dorji as told to his daughter, Her Majesty the Queen Ashi
Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck, provides a fascinating and vivid insight into life
and times in that country during this century. Intimate and revealing
glimpses of traditional life in monastic retreats, remote villages, as
well as forts and palaces, provide a unique perspective on Bhutan's
history, society and traditional culture.
Ugyen's memoirs reveal the story of a remarkably close and loving family,
brought to life through historical photographs of five generations of its
members as well as contemporary photographs of those temples, houses and
palaces associated with the family. The book includes a description and
the only extant photographs of the royal wedding in 1988 of His Majesty
the King of Bhutan with four of Yab Ugyen's daughters.
latter part of the book chronicles Yab Ugyen's struggles as he grows from
a fledgling shopkeeper to a successful merchant. Through the dramatic and
gripping vicissitudes of his life and fortunes, beautifully narrated by
his daughter, Yab Ugyen reveals a simple and inspiring philosophy of life
that has enabled him to tide him over hard times and deepened his
spiritual faith and belief in the invisible forces of karma.
This biography provides a fascinating and vivid insight of Bhutan. There are intimate and revealing glimpses of traditional life in monastic retreats, remote villages, forts and palaces.
Land of the Thunder Dragon
In Bhutan, progress is measured in terms of “Gross National Happiness” and Thimphu, the capital city, has no traffic lights. This mesmerizing book captures the beauties of this remote kingdom, the only independent country to support Buddhism as the official state religion. Readers are transported to ancient fortresses and temples, colorful festivals, and religious ceremonies, as well as to isolated communities along the roof of the world. Featuring photographs taken over the course of three years, the book guides readers through areas normally off-limits to Western visitors, and encompasses a wide range of landscape, portrait, and editorial photographs.
Lonely Planet Bhutan
One of the most comprehensive guide book on Bhutan (well, there are not many other guide books on Bhutan). Lonely Planet Bhutan gives detailed descriptions of places, events, travel information and cultural descriptions of Bhutan. Includes map; information about environment, history, and culture; attractions; and practical information for visitors. As the author says, it is for the single, group and arm chair travellers.
Hero with a Thousand Eyes
A historical and a biographical novel by a Bhutanese author. The book follows the career of a courtier in the court of Bhutan second and third monarchs, and it gives insight into the bygone Bhutanese government and administration.
So Close to Heaven, The Vanishing Buddhist Kingdoms of the Himalayas
An excellent account of Bhutan's history and culture. The author is a New York Times correspondent who has spent considerable time in Bhutan and other Himalayan regions. Published in 1995, the book discusses some of the current development and political problems facing Bhutan.
Dreams of the Peaceful Dragon
A traveller's account of a walk across Bhutan in the 1970s, before the road between Bumthang and Mongar was completed. It gives a good picture of trekking in Bhutan.
Joanna Lumley in the Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon
By Lumley, the co-star of the BBC program Absolutely Fabulous. Her grandfather was a political officer in Sikkim; the book is based on a TV program that traced his trek through the country in the 1930s.
©1999 - January 2010 Alpine Bhutan Travel. Pictures © Christine Potocnik