The national emblem is represented in the form of circle that contains a double diamond thunderbolt (vajra) placed above a lotus flower, pinnacled by a jewel and closed in by two dragons. The thunderbolt symbolizes the harmony between secular and religious power of the Buddhist Vajrayana form. The lotus symbolizes purity; the jewel epitomizes the sovereign power and the two dragons (male and female) depicts the name of the country.
The national flag is bi-coloured and rectangular in shape. The upper yellow half shows the secular authority of the King. The colour also symbolizes the fruitful action in the affairs of both the religion and state. The lower orange half represents the spiritual power and religious practices, mainly the Buddhist doctrines of Kargyupa and Nyingmapa traditions. The thunder dragon stands for the name of the country: Druk Yul (Land of Thunder Dragon). The white colour of the dragon is symbolic of purity and loyalty of the various ethnic and linguistic groups in the country. The dragon’s snarling mouth signifies strength of the country’s protecting deities and the jewels clasped in its claws as the wealth, prosperity, happiness and perfection of the country.
Bhutan’s national flower is Blue Poppy (Meconopsis bhutanica). It grows above the tree line 3,500-4,500 elevation. This blue and five-petal flower is rare and grows on rocks and moraine dams at high altitudes indicating its power to endure harsh weather. The flower is among the most the most beautiful alpines to be found anywhere in the world. A new species of this plant was discovered in Bhutan in 2012.
Takin (Budorcsa taxicolor), a goat-antelope, locally known as Dong Gyimtsi is the national animal. It is a rare mammal that is found to live in sub-alpine forest, meadows and in lower valleys (during winter). They are found primarily in the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Park. It is said to have a unique physique: goat’s head and cow’s body with short legs, two-toed hooves and highly developed brownish yellow spur. This animal continues to baffle taxonomists, environmentalists and biologists because they cannot classify it with any other animal. It is placed in a new class, Budorcas taxicolor.
Takin is associated with Bhutan’s religion and mythology related to Lama Drukpa Kuenley (1455-1529), also known as divine madman for his outrageous antic. In one of the large congregations, some people demanded Lama to display his magical power. The saint atypically demanded a whole cow and a goat for his lunch. He relished on the animals and left only their bones. He stuck the goat’s head onto the bones of the cow. He then commanded the animal to rise and run to the meadow to graze which the animal did and amazed the crowd. A mini-zoo for a takin is located at Motithang in Thimphu.
Raven (Coruas Coraxs) locally known as Jarog Dongchen is the national bird. It is a jet-blue-black coulured bird with a massive beak and distinctly wedge-shaped tail. It is found in alpine areas. Raven represents the deity Yeshey Gonpo (Mahakala) or Gonpo Jarog Dongchen (raven-headed Mahakala), one of the chief guardian deities of Bhutan.
Cypress (Cupressus torulosa) locally known as Tsendenshing is the national tree. The evergreen tree is considered sacred and is grown naturally in the temperate regions. It can also thrive well in tropical and sub-tropical rainforests. Its ability to survive and thrive in harsh conditions embodies the characteristics of simplicity, strength, energy and bravery of the Bhutanese people. The tree is planted outside monasteries, Dzongs and sacred places. Many such trees are said to have been planted by the Buddhist saints who visited Bhutan in medieval times.
Bhutanese men wear a heavy knee-length ‘gho’ and women, an ankle-length dress called ‘kira’. Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the 17th Century ruler introduced the dresses to give the Bhutanese a unique identity. As important national heritage and unique identiy, all Bhutanese have to wear the national dress in the government offices, schools and official public events and gathering.
Dzongkha, literally a language spoken in the Dzongs (fortress, today administrative and monastic centres) is the national language. Bhutan has over nineteen distinct dialects.
Archery is the national sport, which is exclusive to men, though women partake in the rituals and dances accompanying the game. Foreign compound bows and arrows are replacing traditional ones.