The National Flag of Bhutan is one of the symbols on the country and is diagonally divided into yellow and orange fields. The yellow half stretches from the lower hoist to the upper fly end, and the orange half from the fly end to the lower hoist. White dragon flies facing away from the hoist along the dividing line.
First Flag of Bhutan
His Majesty the Second King, Jigme Wangchuck initiated designing of Bhutan’s first ever national flag in the 1940s and ordered Mayum Choying Wangmo Dorji to come up with the idea.
The first National Flag of Bhutan was a bi-color with yellow on the top and red on the bottom. It had green dragon along the line of two fields in the middle, facing they fly end.
Lharip Taw Taw, one of the few painters available to the royal court at the time, is said to have embroidered the flag.
It was displayed in 1949 at the signing of the Indo-Bhutan Treaty at Darjeeling in India.
Second Version of Bhutan’s Flag
National Flag of Bhutan was modified during the tour of His Majesty the Third King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck to the eastern Bhutan in the 1950s. The photographs of first version of the flag of Bhutan was used as a base. This color of the dragon was changed to white.
Third Version of Bhutan Flag
As the square National Flag of Bhutan hoisted near Dechencholing Palace, did not flutter like the rectangular Indian national flag, another change in design was inevitable.
First, the shape of the flag was made to rectangle from square.
Then the parallel bi-color of the flag was embroidered diagonally with yellow field in the upper triangle and red in the lower triangle. The dragon, which was parallel, had to fly diagonally along the line.
The reason for dividing the flag diagonally was because the flag always slumped when hoisted and dragon faced the earth.
Fourth and the Present Bhutan Flag
The lower triangle of red color was changed to orange in the late 1960s on the command of the Third King.
After subsequent changes in design, the present National Flag of Bhutan adopted in 1972.
Significance of the Flag of Bhutan
1. Yellow: the upper triangle
The yellow signifies civil tradition, and embodies His Majesty’s being. His Majesty is the summit of Bhutan and wears Yellow Kabney.
2. Orange: the lower triangle
The orange signifies monastic tradition of Buddha’s teachings. Moreover, it signifies that the traditions of Kagyud and Nyingma flourish in harmony.
3. Adjoining of yellow and orange
The adjoining of two colors represents the oneness of Bhutanese people. It also signifies having monastic and civil traditions.
4. White dragon with jewels in claws
The dragon signifies Bhutan, the Land of Thunder Dragon. It also represents the people, Drukpa, the Bhutanese.
In Dzongkha, Bhutan is known by the name Druk or Druk Yul. Druk is a mythological animal equivalent to ‘dragon’ in English.
Tsangpa Gyarey (1161–1211), the founder of Drukpa Kaguy, a sect within Buddhism, heard a violent thunder storm when he began to construct a monastery in Ralung in Tibet. Thunder is considered a roar of the dragon and seen auspicious. He added ‘Druk’ to his monastery and the sect. Its followers were called Drukpas.
Later on, in the 17th Century, a Lama from the Drukpa Kagyu Lineage, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, came to Bhutan and established the dual system of government. Since then, the country came to be known as Druk and its people as Drukpas or the follower of Drukpa Kagyu.
The white color of dragon signifies the purity of inner thoughts and deeds that unite all the ethnically and linguistically diverse peoples of Bhutan.
The jewels held in the dragon’s claws represent Bhutan’s wealth and prosperity while the snarling mouth of the dragon represents the security and protection of Bhutanese people by guardian deities.
Code of Conduct
The National Assembly of Bhutan codified a code of conduct in 1972 to formalize the Bhutan National Flag’s design and establish protocol regarding acceptable flag sizes and conditions for flying the flag.