Advantages A rare opportunity to see Bhutanese life
Disadvantages Unfortunately photography is forbidden inside the house
Many of the attractions we saw in Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan, didn't really excite or interest me as much as they perhaps should have done. The National Library was dreary, the School of Traditional Arts had me thinking that 7 years learning how to make a statue and do a bit of embroidery left the students less fitted for the 21st century than a couple of years learning to use a computer and I also had a bit of a giggle at the so-called mini-zoo with a bunch of deer and deer-like critters that had either been too tame to run away when they tried to shut the zoo, or - like the three legged reindeer - found it a comfy place to see out their days.
The highlight of the Folk Museum is the farmhouse. It's over a hundred years old - which isn't THAT old by European standards - but it doesn't need to be older to illustrate a way of life that's been unchanged for many centuries. When you enter the museum you find yourself in a large garden edged by some museum buildings and a small shop. The garden has examples of a water driven grain mill and an millstone for extracting seed oils. There is a small kitchen garden with vegetables and some fruit trees. Passing through a doorway, you reach the farmhouse - a massive many-storied building that at first makes you think it must be the home of a very wealthy man but then you realise that this isn't just a family home - it's where the animals live, where the crops are stored, where your food is cooked, where your gods are worshiped and where your very large family spend the coldest times of the year.Starting on the ground floor of the house there's a small courtyard with a burner to prepare incense for daily worship. Animals would have been kept in this courtyard which was partially covered. In olden days, the animals would have moved into the house and occupied the ground floor in the freezing winter months but legislation now prevents people from keeping their animals inside the house for health reasons. The courtyard and ground floor had lots of old agricultural implements and storage baskets and bins for keeping crops. Wine was stored in bamboo bottles of similar design to arrow cases used for the national sport of archery.
Heading up the ladder-like stairs, we found a massive grain bin on the first floor for keeping the harvest of grain dry and safe from rats and vermin. Another large room was also given over entirely to food storage.
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