The flag of Bhutan is a rectangle which is divided into two triangles. The lower triangle is orange, while the upper is yellow. There is a roaring dragon in the center of the flag, where the triangles are divided. The dragon is white and holds a jewel in each of its claws. It is facing away from the hoist side of the flag. The dragon is the thunder dragon of Bhutan and represents the Druk Gyalpo, Bhutan’s dragon king.
According to the symbolism of the flag, the orange color of the lower triangle represents the schools of Buddhism followed by the Bhutanese people. The yellow of the upper triangle represents civil authority. This yellow color is also found in the royal scarf worn by the king. The dragon is the bridge that unites the civil and spiritual aspects of the country. The white color of the dragon stands for its purity, while the jewels, or norbu held in its claws symbolize the wealth of the country and the security of the Bhutanese people. The dragon’s open mouth reminds the viewer of the deities’ commitment to defend the country and its people. This symbolism was codified in June, 1972 by the National Assembly, then confirmed in 2008.
The Bhutanese flag has undergone a few changes over the years. The first national flag was commissioned by the second dragon king, Jigme Wangchuk, in 1949 and designed by Mayeum Choying Wongmo Dorji. This flag was more square than the flag used today, though in some accounts it was not a perfect square. The dragon was colored green in honor of the turquoise dragon, and the colors were red for the lower triangle and yellow for the upper. It was also facing the hoist side of the flag.
The flag was modified again in 1956 while the third dragon king visited eastern Bhutan. In this flag, the dragon was white instead of green. More changes to the flag were made by the king’s secretary, Dasho Shingkhar Lam. Among other things, the king was displeased that the square shape of the Bhutanese flag did not allow it to flutter as grandly as the flag of India. Because of this, the flag’s shape was changed to a rectangle. The position of the dragon was also changed to make it undulate more along the diagonal line that divides the yellow and orange triangles. This new position also avoided the dragon facing the ground when the flag was limp. The color of the lower triangle was also changed from red to orange on the king’s orders.