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Special characteristics of Bhutanese architecture
Temple of Kurjey Lhakhang near Jakar, Bumthang
In Bhutanese architecture, there is generally no planning and designing done on paper before a structure is built. The chief carpenter is the master of work and he has the size, layout and structure in his mind. He uses parts of his body for measurement and proportions of the different features of the building. He supervises other carpenters, stone-cutters and village workers. No nails are used and the wood pieces are assembled by the dovetail technique.

The many examples of traditional Bhutanese architecture that we see were all built in this way. Architectural styles differ from place to place and from different periods in time.

The differences in style are due to:

availability of building materials;
physical and climatic conditions;
social and economic development;
religious and cultural traditions.

The main materials used have been stones, compressed earth (mud), wood and bamboo. Stone or rock is mostly used for dzongs and religious buildings while village houses are made of stones and compressed earth. Wooden shingles are commonly used for roofing. In some parts of eastern Bhutan bamboo mats are also used for roofing. Wood is used especially for windows, balconies of dzong buildings and temples. Windows have a distinctive trefoil shape and elaborate lintels painted with geometrical and floral motifs.

The characteristics of Bhutanese architecture are generally:

lavish use of wood;
sloped whitewashed walls;
window size increasing with the stories;
he trefoil shaped windows;
he pitched roof covered with shingles and weighed down with stones.

Once the building is completed, artists often embellish it by painting different auspicious motifs. The selection of the site for any building, as well as the different steps of the construction, are guided by the astrologer's calculations and always followed by rituals. For religious buildings, the configuration of the site and good omens are considered very important.

Within seven months, several important structures were completed. Among them was the Taktshang Pelphug which houses three lhakhangs: the Phurpai Dubkhang on the ground floor where Guru Rinpoche meditated; the Guru Sungjoen Lhakhang, situated on the first floor of the building and named after the image of the Guru which is believed to have spoken; and the Guru Tshen Gyed Lhakhang, on the top floor, named after the eight manifestations of Guru Rinpoche.

A fire proof structure (methub) will be constructed in the Chorten Lhakhang to safeguard the sacred nangtens from fire and theft.

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