Sword in Bhutan is known as Pata. Pata means the symbol of heroes. Sword symbolizes authority and recognition of high honor and is therefore highly regarded and valued. Unlike others, Bhutanese swords are straight single-edged blade with sharp arc tip. It is hanged by male parliament members and high ranking government officials, including the royal family.
In Buddhism, sword symbolizes slashing of defilement. Many statues of gods are seen with sword in their hand. It is believed that swords served as essential weapon during the war between gods and demigods. Bhutanese used swords as key weapon during the wars within and outside the country. Swords that killed people during wars were marked cross on the blunt edge near the hilt and were preserved.
After Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal establishment of the dual system of government in Bhutan, swords were hanged, over the right thigh, by Desis (secular leader), Poenlops, Dzongpoens (regional heads) and officials who served at their court as a symbol of authority.
At the start, Desi, Poenlop and dzongpoen were appointed from the monk body. They did not hang sword. But by the beginning of 18th Century, Desi and regional heads were also appointed from laity. Druk Rabgyey, the 8th Druk Desi, was the first layman to become Desi in 1707.
At least eleven types of Bhutanese sword exist. Different types of swords were cast in different parts of the country. The types are named after the blacksmith who first forged them. For example, sword forged by Tenzin of Pasakha is called Paksam Tenzin. Of all kinds, swords designed by Terton Pema Lingpa and Jangkar Lekpa are considered superior.
Today, awarding of pata remains the prerogative of His Majesty the King. As tradition did not see women hanging sword, His Majesty the Fifth King awarded gyenta for women, an insignia equivalent to pata worn by men, in 2016.