Bhutanese proverbs

From Quotes
Yet each man kills the thing he loves from all let this be heard some does it with a bitter look some with a flattering word the coward does it with a kiss the brave man with the sword.
Oscar Wilde
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Bhutanese proverbs organised by topic:


  • Kha deu gu chey deu ma kay.
    Don't put an easy tongue in an easy mouth. (said to an overly talkative person)


  • Sampa zang na sa dang lam yang zang; sampa nyen na sa dang lam yang nyen.
    If the thought is good, (your) place and path are good; if the thought is bad, (your) place and path are bad.
  • Sem chen tag gi re-mo chey dang; gu nag mi ge re-mo nang ing.
    The stripes of a tiger are on the outside; the stripes (character) of a person are on the inside. (character is not directly visible)
  • Lo teypi mi gi nha-ing ku.
    A trustworthy person steals one's heart.
  • Zig then ma che; dam choe ma ha.
    Do not start your worldly life too late; do not start your religious life too early.
  • A girl with a dedicated heart and good behaviour is more precious than your own heart.
  • Mi chi gawi sem Lamchen chi giya ba methey.
    To give happiness to another person gives such a great merit; it cannot even be carried by an elephant.

The human condition

  • Chu yoe sa chab chap; sa droe sa nim sha.
    Where there is plenty of water, it rains; where there is abundant heat, the sun shines.
  • Gawa rang gi zon go zo; choem rang gi choen go choel.
    Whatever joy you seek, it can be achieved by yourself; whatever misery you seek, it can be found by yourself.

Human relations

  • Chap phar kah chap jil pa chu kha ray.
    The rain falls yonder, but the drops strike here. (indirect remarks hit the target).
  • Cheyda chap sa goem peon yoeg mey.
    On the battlefield, there is no distinction between upper and lower class.
  • Chig mein neow cham.
    If there is no financial involvement between relatives, the relationship is harmonious.
  • Da chab lu mi tso, thi lu tso; Loe lab lu mi tso, nen lu tso.
    The way the arrow hits the target is more essential than the way it is shot; the way you listen is more essential than the way you talk. (anyone can talk but understanding takes skill).
  • Nam gawa the wei woe lu yoe; phung dang si yang they nang yoe.
    Fun and pleasure are located below the navel; dispute and trouble are also located there.
  • Sha tshaye khala tham nhen mi thoen.
    Flattering words will not be spoken from the mouth of an affectionate person.
  • She chey mi lu mathoen: Khapa roe ki ba wong.
    Never reveal all that you know to others: They might become shrewder than you.
  • Tham chi sum da len ma gel na, pha dang bu yang noe mi chey.
    If they don't exchange a few words, father and son will never know one another.
  • Thrang lapna me mi ga; te tha dung na khi mi ga eg.
    If you tell the truth, people are not happy; if beaten with a stick, dogs are not happy.
  • Zo mangna go lhong mi tshu.
    When there are too many carpenters, the door cannot be erected.


  • Fa yul la ta ja tham pa yoe, nga rang jo na kang tha.
    In my homeland I possess one hundred horses, yet if I go, I go on foot.
  • Tsham choe shain khaybe tag.
    To know your limitations is the hallmark of a wise person.
  • If heat is applied to iron long enough it will melt; if cold is applied to water long enough it will freeze.
  • Walking slowly, even the donkey will reach Lhasa. (given determination, even a dolt will eventually reach the goal)


  • Ge ru-wa nhagi mo choe.
    The nose didn't smell the rotting head. (one can't see one's own faults)
  • Rang chapi zam lay rang ma thai.
    One could not cross a bridge constructed by oneself. (whatever you do, do it properly, so it is of use).
  • Ye shey pi da chap sar mi thoeng; phog sar thoeng.
    The arrow of the accomplished master will not be seen when it is released; only when it hits the target. (you don't see the process; only the result can be seen)
  • A fire should be extinguished when it is small; an enemy should be subdued while young.
  • Consider the tune, not the voice; consider the words, not the tune; consider the meaning, not the words.
  • No death without reason.
  • Words coming from far away are always half true, half false.
  • You must first walk around a bit before you can understand the distance from the valley to the mountain.
  • Chu ma wom ley yue wa sey....
    Clear the drain before it rains.... (Be prepared)