Sunday, February 26, 2012

Bhutan - The Wangchuk Dynasty

The House of Wangchuck has ruled Bhutan since it was reunified in 1907. Prior to reunification, the Wangchuck family had governed the district of Trongsa as descendants of Dungkar Choji. They eventually overpowered other regional lords and earned the favour of the British Empire. After consolidating power, Penlop of Trongsa Sir Ugyen Wangchuck was elected hereditary King of Bhutan, or Druk Gyalpo ("Dragon King"), thus founding the royal house.Jigme Namgyal of Bhutan (1825–1881) is a forefather of the House of Wangchuck. He served as 51st Druk Desi (Deb Raja, the secular executive) of Bhutan (1870–1873), and held the hereditary post of 10th Penlop of Trongsa. He was the descendant of the Nyingma saint Pema Lingpa and a patriarch of the Nyö clan. With his influence as Druk Desi, he aided his son in consolidating power in Bhutan and retained considerable clout after his official tenure had ended, gaining him the moniker Deb Nagpo ("the Black Deb"). Jigme Namgyal effectively reigned through his death 1881, punctuated by periods of retirement during which he retained control of the country.

During his lifetime, Jigme Namgyal and his forces came to dominate the eastern provinces of Bhutan as Penlop of Trongsa from his base at Trongsa Dzong in the town of Trongsa, Trongsa Province. A generation later, eastern forces led by his son Ugyen Wangchuck conquered western forces loyal to the anti-British Paro Penlop.

Jigme Namgyal is the father of the first Druk Gyalpo King Ugyen Wangchuck, who founded the Bhutanese monarchy in 1907 after besting his rivals, the Penlop of Paro and allies, ending protracted civil war. Jigme Namgyal is thus the forefather of all subsequent Kings of Bhutan: Jigme Wangchuck, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, and Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. Several monarchs of the House of Wangchuck have borne Jigme Namgyel's names.

Crown Princes of Bhutan traditionally take the title Penlop of Trongsa (also called "Chhoetse" Penlop), reflecting the hereditary position and historical significance of the office of Jigme Namgyal. The Wangchuck dynasty centralized government power in Bhutan and established relations with the British Empire and India under its first two monarchs. The third, fourth, and fifth (current) monarchs have put the kingdom on its path toward democratization, decentralization, and development.  

Shashi gave me this wonderful Mini sheet.

1 comment:

  1. nice bhutan stamps you have as a present!