Saturday, December 5, 2009

Books on Bhutan, Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon

This is a selection of book on Bhutan:
  • Hidden Bhutan: Entering The Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon by Martin Uitz. In 2006, Time magazine listed the King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuk, as one of the 100 "leaders and revolutionaries" who are changing our world today. Yet it was only in the 1960s that the first road linking the Kingdom with India was opened. Martin Uitz, a renowned expert on Bhutan, describes how the Bhutanese, in pursuit of the principle of "Gross National Happiness", are carefully moving towards a more modern future, including a constitution and democracy, whilst preserving their traditional society and conserving the environment. This modestly-sized book offers a fascinating insight into a little-known country that is engaging with the stresses of modernisation and opening up to the wider world in a unique way.
  • From the Land of the Thunder Dragon: Textile Arts of Bhutan (Reprinted 2008) edited by Diana K. Myers and Susan S. Bean. 2008 reissue of the 1994 illustrated account of the textile arts of Bhutan. The book originally accompanied the first major presentation of Bhutan's textile art in the West which took place at the Peabody Essex Museum, Massachusetts. Specialised papers are grouped and address: textiles in the country's cultural history; women and men in textile use and creation; and meaning and materials involved. Graphics and archival material as well as colour photographs of the exhibits indicate the beauty and diversity of Bhutan's past and present textile artefacts. With glossary, notes, catalogue of exhibits, bibliography and index.
  • Bhutan: Hidden Lands of Happiness by John Wehrheim. One hundred and eight fine, black-and-white photo studies illuminate the author's ruminative exploration of geography and life of the Himalayan country of Bhutan. The journey through mountains, ricelands and towns shows aspects of the structures and present, often age-old, ways of life of the kingdom's 480 000 people who are now starting to deal with new impacts from the globalising world. Stories, anecdotes and informal interviews offer insights into Bhutan's philosophy and its stated priority for happiness. Glimpses of future changes are seen and discussed as the book ends in the streets and nightclubs of the capital Thimphu Town.
  • The Dragon's Gift: The Sacred Arts of Bhutan (DVD Included) edited by Terese Tse Bartholomew and John Johnson. This impressive volume complements the ongoing international exhibition of the sacred arts of Bhutan, which is the fruit of many years of scholarly work by the Honolulu Academy of Arts and the religious and government authorities in Bhutan. Twelve illustrated essays by Bhutanese and Western scholars discuss the history of the country and some of its leaders and religious teachers, as well as the significance and conservation of its Buddhist artefacts and living traditions. The catalogue presents 100 sacred objects with colour plates, provenance details and detailed descriptions. The accompanying DVD presents the ritual dances, which are an important part of Bhutan's history and religious rituals. With glossary, time charts, lineages, bibliography, map and index.
  • Unbecoming Citizens: Culture, Nationhood, and the Flight of Refugees from Bhutan (Reprinted 2006) by Michael Hutt. Many general and local issues are discussed in this careful study of the situation of the hundred thousand refugees of Nepali ethnicity who, in the 1990s, were evicted from Bhutan and now live in refugee camps. The account of the history, culture, settlement and occupations of these now rejected and stateless people is enriched by interviews with refugees and authority figures. Issues relating to the problems and challenges of national identity, nation-building and international responsibility are explored against the backdrop of this ongoing tragedy of displacement. With bibliography, illustrations and index.

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