How to wear a gho | The National dress of Bhutan
Bhutanese men’s folk costume is charismatic and unusual dress made from handwoven textiles in Bhutan. It consists of an under jacket called “tego”, a robe called “gho”, a fabric belt called “kera”, a large silk scarf called “kabney”, and boots called “tshog lham”.
The Gho is a knee-length cloak for men that is tied at the waist with a Kera, or cloth belt. Ghos have a cuff that can be folded or pinned in place. Ghos come in a wide variety of patterns, often with plaid or striped designs. Government workers are obliged to wear the Gho for work, and all Bhutanese men use it for formal occasions.
For formal wear, men use a Kabney, or silk shawl, draped over the Gho. The Kabney is draped over the left shoulder and the right hip. It is compulsory for all men to wear a Kabney while visiting monasteries, government offices and formal occasions. The Kabney is a symbol that signifies different groups or professions, so there are different colors and designs of a Kabney for different professions and levels.
Steps to wear a Gho
- Step 1: Under the Gho, men wear a Tego, a long-sleeved short jacket.
- Step 2: Put on the Gho, and tuck the right front panel into the left and bring the left panel over to the right.
- Step 3: Grasp the Gho at the sides and fold around towards the back.
- Step 4: Secure the Gho around the waist with a Kera (woven belt), to form a pouch in the Gho. This makes a pocket for many things.
- Step 5: Fold the sleeves of the Gho together with Lagay (cuffs). A Gho needs to be folded only once to form a cuff.
For formal occasions, men can wear special boots called Tshog-lham, traditionally made of leather and silk. These boots look very beautiful because they are richly embroidered and embellished with colorful decorations. Men wear them for weddings and festivals such as Tshechu.
Origin of the Gho
The Bhutanese Gho is an adaptation of a traditional Tibetan garment called a Chuba or Chupa, with added cuffs. A chuba is a long sheepskin-lined coat made of thick Tibetan wool worn by many of the nomadic peoples of high altitude in the cold mountains of Tibet. It is often worn off one shoulder, and can be used by both men and women. A chuba is bound around the waist by a long sash, making its length adjustable. Its upper portion becomes a large pocket to carry everything from money to weapons. Pants can be worn underneath.
Best Quality Fabrics are Costly
Special occasions can often be expensive in Bhutan because everyone must wear the finest embroidered Ghos and Kiras with intricate patterns. To be sure, a Bhutanese wedding is not for the poor. Booth groom and bride need to wear something unique and handmade, which can cost over 80,000 Ngultrum ($1200 USD) each. This can make a wedding quite expensive. Not only the bride and groom but also other members of the family who are part of the ceremony must wear their best finery, so the cost of the wedding becomes enormous. This is why special occasions in Bhutan are expensive. Fabrics for the finest Ghos cost a minimum of 50,000 Ngultrum ($700 USD), whereas an everyday Gho costs under two thousand ($50 USD).
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