The Musicians of the Paro Jongpen [Bhutan]
Photographer: White, John Claude
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the musicians of the Dzongpen (administrative officer and lord of the dzong) of Paro in Bhutan taken by John Claude White in 1905. This is one of a set of photographs documenting a British mission to Bhutan, led by White, to invest Ugyen Wangchuk, the Penlop (Governor) of Tongsa (Trongsa) with the order of Knight Commander of the Indian Empire. He had assisted the Younghusband Mission to Tibet of 1904. By the late 19th century, the Penlops of Paro and Trongsa were the strongest chieftains in the country and opposing powers. Bhutan had passed 200 years as a patchwork of infighting regions, its unity shredded since the announcement of the death of the Shabdrung Ngawgang Namgyal in 1705. (He was the strong religious leader who had unified the country and whose death occurred in about 1651 but was kept secret for some decades to avoid strife). Paro was ultimately marginalised by the Penlop of Trongsa who achieved sovereignty over Bhutan and was elected King in 1907, establishing the hereditary monarchy.