Indigenous Monpa clans established settlements in the eastern Himalayas by around 2000 BC. Buddhism was brought to Bhutan in the 7th century AD when Tibetan lamas (monks) founded monasteries at Bumthang and Kyichi, although animist beliefs persisted among the scattered villages. It was the arrival in 1616 of a monk, Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyal, fleeing persecution in Tibet, which led to the foundation of the kingdom of Bhutan. Over a period of 35 years Zhabdrung and his followers built fortresses and monasteries and established the Drukpa sect of Buddhism as well as a dual system of governance known as the Chhoesid. Power was split between the Deb Raja, the head of secular affairs (responsible for four regional governors) and the Dharma Raja, the spiritual head who was charged with enacting laws. In 1720 the Ch’ing dynasty took control of Tibet, claiming suzerainty of it and neighbouring Bhutan.
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