The Bhutan Society of the UK 

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News and developments

Selected extended news and articles about Bhutan.

Please also have a look at the links page for other news sites and resources about Bhutan.

September 2018

The Zhanag Black Hat Dance

Dr Karma Phuntsho, President of the Loden Foundation

The Zhanag or Black Hat dance is one of the most popular sacred cham dances with mask seen in Bhutan and other parts of the Buddhist Himalayas. Named after the black hats which the dancers wear, the dance has a deep spiritual significance and is performed as an act of religious ritual and practice, and not as a piece of entertainment.

Read the full article here.

December 2017

His Majesty The King honours Michael Rutland

His Majesty The King honoured Michael Rutland, Vice President of the Society, at the National Day celebrations in Haa on 17 December 2017. Michael Rutland was granted the highest level (Gold) of the National Order of Merit in recognition of distinguished and meritorious services to Bhutan. Read the full article on KUENSEL.

Dechen Dorji, Francoise Pommaret, and Michael Ruthland were awarded the National Order of Merit. Photo: KUENSEL, December 18, 2017

January 2017

PM honours British woman supporting children in Bhutan

Prime Minister Theresa May has named a British Buddhist nun a Point of Light for working to improve the lives of children in rural Bhutan.

Emma Slade is the founder of 'Opening Your Heart to Bhutan', a charity dedicated to supporting children in the country. Emma spent seven years working in the city of London before travelling for a number of years and eventually being ordained as a Buddhist nun in Bhutan. She combines her business background and her in-depth knowledge of Bhutan to serve as Chief Executive of the charity in an entirely voluntary capacity.

The full story behind Emma's award is here.

See also

October 2016

Bhutanese Ambassador's address to the Society

Bhutan's Ambassador to the European Union, Aum Pema Choden, delivered an address to the Society at the Annual Dinner at the Charterhouse.

In the speech she discused the Royal Birth, the reconstruction of Drukyel Dzong and the close ties between Bhutan and the UK.

The complete text of the address can be found here

May 2016

Cine Film from the 1940s

Dr Harry Staunton

Dr Harry Staunton, born in Durban in 1908, joined the Indian Medical Service in 1934. He accompanied Sir Basil Gould to Lhasa in 1940 to attend the Installation of the 14th Dalai Lama and, during his time as Civil Surgeon for Tibet, Sikkim and Bhutan between 1940 and 1942, he travelled to Bhutan, where he treated the Queen Mother.

Tragically he died in a plane crash in 1945 whilst returning from England for the birth in Bombay of his second child, his daughter, Diana.

Dr Staunton shot four reels of film which spent forty years in a safe in South Africa and, when retrieved, were put together as a video by the BBC. There was no soundtrack, so his daughter travelled in 1998 to St Andrews, where Hugh Richardson, "the Grand Old Man of Tibetan Studies", kindly provided a commentary, putting names to people and places. Film and soundtrack were finally put together in April 2015.

Diana Hughes would like to extend her warmest thanks to Roger Croston for making this film possible and to Tim Huckvale of for his video editing, audio synchronisation and DVD production.




Tashichho and Semtokha

October 2015

A Cultural Epiphany: Religious Dances of Bhutan and Their Costumes

Françoise Pommaret

For most outsiders, the religious dances of Bhutan are a visual feast of colours, enhanced by the twirling movements of the dancers, rich costumes and often, but not always, intriguing masks. But what are the cultural and religious meanings that hide behind the masks and the costumes? In a fascinating and authoritative article, Françoise Pommaret unravels the different layers of meanings and their relevance to the Bhutanese.

The author looks at the religious significance of various types of Buddhist Festivals, how they are celebrated and the role of the beautiful applique and embroidered banner " which liberates by sight" or throngdrel. The meaning of the many dance traditions are also explored as are the very varied costumes, masks and musical instruments that play such symbolic roles at these festivals.

You can read the full article, along with some superb photographs, here.

October 2015

What is in a Name?

Dr Karma Phuntsho,President of the Loden Foundation

Names form an important part of a person's identity. They serve as conventional labels to identify a person.

Bhutan has an interesting naming culture both in terms of how the names are given and used and what they mean or signify.

You can read the full article in 3 pages here, here and lastly here.

July 2015

New air routes

An air route connecting Bhutan to Singapore via Yangon, the capital of Myanmar, can now be established following a memorandum of understanding reached, last week.

With Drukair currently operating two flights to Singapore via Kolkata, per week, a total of four flights to the island state can now be operated under the new deal.

Following a bilateral air services consultation in Yangon, the Myanmar government has also agreed that fifth freedom rights will be provided to Bhutan from any five freely selected intermediate points and five freely selected beyond points for flights connecting Yangon.

Fifth freedom rights allow an airline to carry paying passengers between foreign countries, for instance, a Drukair or Tashi Air flight originating in Paro, can stop in Kolkata, Dhaka or any three other cities, pick up paying passengers and fly on to Yangon.

The new deal also means that besides Bangkok and Singapore which are beyond points for the airlines, three more foreign cities can now be connected to Yangon, if desired by the airlines.

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