Women in Traditional Dress
How to Wear Traditional Bhutanese Woman's Dress
Bhutan is a unique country of exceptional distinctive culture and traditions and by far the national dress called the Gho for men and Kira for women maybe the most unique and beautiful of all. A tourists’ first glimpse of the gracefully clad men and women in their Gho and Kira at the Airport sets the stage for a truly Bhutanese unique cultural experience in Bhutan.
In Bhutan, men wear the Gho, a knee length robe secured at the waist by a belt called Kera that literally forms into the biggest pocket in the world to store small items like mobile phones to laptops and even babies! The set is complete with white-cuffs, collar, knee length socks and shoes (formal, loafers, sneakers or hiking boots depending on the occasion). Women wear ankle length dress fastened at the shoulders with pins or brooches and a belt at the waist. A blouse is worn inside the Kira and an outer blouse covering the top part of the Kira.
Introduced and designed in the 17th Century by Lama Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel (the Saint who defended and unified Bhutan amid various Tibetan invasions), the Gho and Kira can be either hand-woven with a variety of intricate designs and patterns on silk or raw silk or factory woven of fine cotton and other clothing materials. The colors of the dresses are bold, bright and especially for the women the Kira is matched with the blouses, footwear and other accessories. Keeping in line with fashion, creativity and comfort the Bhutanese women have designed their Kiras to be also worn half from the waist down keeping the inner and outer blouses as it is.
For formal occasions women wear a sash over the left shoulder called the Rachu which again is brightly colored with intricate designs and patterns on silk. The men’s sash is called the Kabney and the different colors of the Kabney signify the hierarchy of the posts/designations held while in office. While the common man wears white kabney, the Kings and the Chief Abbot wears yellow, Ministers wear orange, blue for parliamentarians, etc.
Wearing the Gho and Kira is a complicated process and a tourist would definitely need the help of a local to wear one or watch the videos below.