The history of Bhutan’s tradition and culture closely follow the history of Buddhism. Guru Padmasambhava, who brought Buddhism in Bhutan, thus remains the single most important and influential figure in Bhutan’s ancient history.
The traditional dress worn by Bhutanese men today called the gho was reproduced from the dress worn by the Guru himself. And the women’s kira according to some oral literature claims to have evolved from the dress worn by the Guru’s consorts.
The gho worn by men is a knee length wraparound skirt, which is tied at the waist by a belt. The pouch that forms on the chest is used as pockets to carry valuable items.
Westerners have often remarked on Bhutan’s distinctive traditional dress as having the biggest pocket in the world. A white, small cylindrical piece of cloth called the lagey is attached to the sleeve and folded inside out.
In ancient times and even today, people carry daggers that are fastened on the belt along their hips. Officials with rank and power are bestowed a long sword called the patang. This sword, which can be used both as a tool and a weapon is symbolic of men defending the country as well as building it.
Both Bhutanese men and women wear a scarf while on important occasions and while entering a dzong or a monastery. As a symbol of respect the scarf is lowered in front of those with higher position including the king.
Ordinary Bhutanese wear white scarf while those of a higher rank that wear red are referred to as Dashos. Parliamentarians wear blue and the king wears the yellow scarf.
A woman’s equivalent of the scarf is called the Rachu. Rachus worn by ordinary women are hung over the shoulder and is woven in colorful embroidery.
All men and women including the civil servants wear their traditional dress during office hours.