Bhutanese proverbs

From Quotes
We are not to make the ideas of contentment and aspiration quarrel, for God made them fast friends. A man may aspire, and yet be quite content until it is time to raise; and both flying and resting are but parts of one contentment. The very fruit of the gospel is aspiration. It is to the heart what spring is to the earth, making every root, and bud, and bough desire to be more. -
Henry Ward Beecher
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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)