Thursday, April 17, 2014


Dear all, today I am going to do an article which I should have covered way before. But I kinda felt like it was way too basic for me to touch. But someone asked me to cover it and I realized for someone who has very little idea about Bhutan…this is kinda interesting topic. So this article is especially for the   non-Bhutanese readers. I hope you will find this article interesting because it is about my national dress-Gho (for male) and Kira (for female)
My niece and nephew's school concert

I will start off with Gho first. Many foreigners call it the “skirt” and it’s not wrong, it kinda looks like a skirt, only that it’s worn by men in Bhutan and not by women. Both Gho n Kira are stitched…the materials are either hand-woven or from a ready-made cloth piece. 

           I am also going to cover on “how to wear a gho?” From the above pictures you can’t quite see but let me tell you, gho is something like a super-oversized overcoat. It can completely wrap you almost twice. I have uploaded some pictures so you can see how to wear a gho. And the model here is my 12 years old nephew getting ready for his school. Since he is a little young, I help him wear the gho.
And before I start off with how to wear a gho, I will tell you that it’s not only a gho that’s required. You require a gho, a tego (inner most wear or else gong and lagay is the other option) and a kayra (hand-woven belt). I just realized that describing in words how to wear gho and kira is going to be difficult so I will do pictorial description and a little explaining if required. If you don’t get it, you can always leave a comment and I will try to explain it better.
1.      Wear your gho like you would wear your over coat.
2.      Put the right-hand side of the gho inside the left hand side of the gho (right in the mid) and hold it from outside with your left hand.
3.      Now with your right hand, hold the left hand side of the gho, and lift both the sides like a belt-less skirt.
4.      Slowly lift both the hands such that the edge of the gho in on your knees
5.      Take both sides of the gho to your behind and adjust the gho to have a clean look
6.      Using kayra tighten your waist
7.      Make final adjustments which includes making your gong and lagay (lagay is only one neat fold) as show in the last two pictures, the collar is called the gong and the fold on the wrist is called as lagay
This is how your gho should look at the end.
ps: the last picture is not of his school unifrom, he was getting late so he had to rush to, so I am using some of his other pictures wearing gho.

And to go on with how to wear a kira, first of all you need: wonju (inner most wear), kira, tego (outer most wear and it’s not the same as gho’s tego, but looks similar) and finally kayra. Kira is basically a large sheet of cloth and like gho, kira is also available in both hand-woven or ready-made materials. In case of kira…there is full-kira and half-kira. People hardly wear full kira these days, most people wear half kira. 
Me and my bestie during our convocation
In this picture, if you look closely, my bestie (in the pink) is wearing a half-kira and I (in the green) am wearing a full kira. My kira is till my chest where as my friend's is till waist.
And I dont think it's important for me to cover on how to wear a full-kira because all the Bhutanese know how to wear it and Non-Bhutanese find half-kira more comfortable and easy to wear.
Besides, these days you get easy to wear half-kiras, all you have to do is place some hooks in the right place and it's done, as easy as said 

And now the following pictures will show you how to wear a half-kira. 

The white one is wonju and as you can see, kiras are really long, must me more than two meters, not really sure though, because we usually buy arleady-stitched kiras ^_^
1.      Wrap yourself with the kira and place the left hand side of the edge on your waist.
2.      Continue wrapping yourself such that the other end of the kira is on your right side of the waist.
3.      Now make a nice fold in the front and that fold should meet the side of the kira on the right side of your waist
4.      Holding these two sides together, tighten your waist using Kayra. Usually half-kira will have long extra strand of cloth, that’s used instead of Kayra/belt, but I prefer using Kayra so that’s why in the picture you see me using Kayra.
Final look
5.      And finally you wear your tego and make a nice wonju gong (the collar) and wrist fold (we don’t say lagay here, lagay is only for males it’s called wonju lakha)
Taken after National Day celebration 

And finally the shawl look alike that Bhutanese men wear is called Kabney. Different color of the kabeny signifies different post in the kingdom for male. And the link here will best explain it
Likewise women wear Rachu…it looks like a bigger version of Kayra…women wear it on their left shoulder leaving the fringes on the front. The color code for the Rachu for the different post of females in the kingdom is similar to that of male, except for the saffron color. Saffron is only for the King and the chief abbot of the country. And for the commoner, the color of Rachu is not white but colorful prints…mostly red with flower prints but these days you get to see varieties of patterns in different colors.
My aunt, adopted brother and mum
 This picture in the right was taken when we were in Punakha Dzong for an offering. My aunt and mum being a commoner are wearing ordinary rachu. But you will notice that my brother is not wearing a gho or kabney, that because he is a Buddhist monk and they have their own attire. A robe and kabney. I dont know much about their attire so cant really write on it. But we call it "Sangay gi Namza" meaning Buddha's attire. 

Anyways I really hope you guys enjoyed this article as much as I enjoyed writing it for you guys (not to forget the photo session I had with my nephew) :)


  1. Thank you so much !!! I can see you put it lots of effort in this post and thanks to the lovely model. He looks smart in his Gho. Kadin Chey la !
    Its also amazing how the large pocket formed at the chest when gho is wrapped is so useful. Its where men kept their phones sometimes or their hands in cold weasther. I saw one particular small school boy - he was walking with a packet of chips inside and he would put his hands in and get a chip and put it in his mouth and repeat the process. It looked so cute and made me laugh.
    Also, when i was in the souvenir shops, i saw these lovely ornaments and i had no idea what they were. On the last day , i saw a lady wear the full Kira and she used these ornaments as "halter neck" ties for the kira. I thought i could use it for western clothes without straps. Its so elegant and looks like jewelry.

    1. You are most welcome dear :) and that halter neck look alike ornament is called "koma and jab-tha" in Dzongkha (Bhutan's national language) koma is the broach look alike which holds the upper ends of the kira together and jab-tha is the fancy chain holding the two pieces of koma together. And like I pointed out in my article, very few people wears full kira so we dont see koma and jab-tha much these days...but if I find the pictures I will share it with you.

  2. Hi! This article is really helpful in understanding Bhutanese culture, but I'm confused by the Tego. Could you explain more please?

    1. Hi! Thanks for dropping by and Tego is the final wear of the dress, if you notice in the pictures above, all the ladies wear a jacket look-alike clothing...thats called Tego. I hope you got it :)

  3. Hello
    I have been trying to get the pattern or specs to sew toego and wonju . Can you help me ?

    1. oh! its actually quite difficult to sew tego and wonju, even for us, we usually give to trained tailors and tailor shops to sew it for us. M Sorry. But if u give ur measurements, m sure tailors here can do it for u

  4. I am seamstress. I am just looking to get the pattern . I also have the materials . Brocade and silk . Will be very much appreciated if you can help .Thank you.

  5. Hi,
    Can you help me by saying how to stitch a kira? I got this link in youtube and am interested. here is the link to help you. will really appreciate it.

    1. Hello,
      I wish I could help you with this but the kira in that video is velcro kira (in other words, thats an easy to wear kira) and not the traditional kira. Its usually stitched by professional tailors so m sorry but I dont think I can help you with that.

  6. Hello! Thank you for the useful post about bhutanese clothes, it's very interesing. Can you tell me please about the color of wonju? I see that women wear all the different colors. Does they mean something? Someone told me that the color of wonju has the meaning. Like if you wear blue wonju it means that you gave birth to son, for example. Is it true? Hope to hear from you))

  7. Hi, looking to stich a gho... any link on the pattern? Confident that I can do it.