Tibetan and Himalayan Library - THL

THL Title Text
Antiquities of Zhang Zhung
by John Vincent Bellezza
Edited by Geoffrey Barstow, Mickey Stockwell and Michael White
Tibetan & Himalayan Library
Published under the THL Digital Text License.

I.1. Residential Structures Occupying Summits: Fortresses, breastworks, religious buildings, palaces, and related edifices

Tang KhartséStang mkhar rtse

Basic site data

  • Site name: Tang KhartséStang mkhar rtse
  • Site number: A-99
  • Site typology: I.1x
  • Elevation: 4100 m to 4140 m
  • Administrative location (township): ZarangZa rang
  • Administrative location (county): TsamdaRtsa mda’
  • Survey expedition: HTCE
  • Survey date: October 19, 2002
  • Contemporary usage: None.
  • Identifiable Buddhist constructions: A partially rebuilt monastery.
  • Maps: UTRS V, HAS C2
  • View Place Dictionary Entry
  • View Site Images

General site characteristics

On the summit of a ridge suspended above the agricultural village of TangStang stand the highly deteriorated remains of Tang KhartséStang mkhar rtse. The physical evidence seems to corroborate local claims that a castle once stood here. It would appear that, before the establishment of Buddhist monasteries on such hilltops in the RongchungRong chung and LhoméLho smad regions of GugéGu ge, a network of archaic strongholds protected the agrarian settlements. On the south side of the lower west summit of Tang KhartséStang mkhar rtse there are dissolving wall footings covering an area of 40 m by 7 m. Local pieces of limestone, up to 1 m in length, were employed in their construction. A small ruined retreat house is situated 30 m west of these ruins. In between the footings and house, at the base of a pinnacle known as Dorjé ChenmoRdo rje chen mo, there is another area of wall footings (30 m by 5 m) that may have once been part of cliff dwellings. On the east end of the west summit there is what looks to be the base of defensive walls, 10 m to 15 m in length.

Oral tradition

According to local villagers, Tang KhartséStang mkhar rtse was an ancient fortress.

Affiliated sites

Tang PakpaStang ’phags pa

On the flanks of the Tang KhartséStang mkhar rtse formation there is the partially rebuilt Tang PakpaStang ’phags pa monastery.74 At one time, the buildings of this Buddhist monastery extended to the east summit. The upper facility was destroyed long ago, say local residents. It is also reported that, at the lower monastery, an approximately 1.5 m high pillar engraved with the triple gems (Könchok Sumdkon mchog gsum) motif and Om A Humoṃ a hum mantra was destroyed in the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Among the inscribed plaques salvaged from the site are highly worn lentsalan tsha script manima ṇi mantras, which could potentially date to the tenpa chidarbstan pa phyi dar.


[74] For information on this monastery (called Tang PakpaStang ’phags pa/Teng Pakpa Tongwa Dönden GönSteng ’phags pa mthong ba don ldan dgon) see Gugé Tsering GyelpoGu ge tshe ring rgyal po, Ngari ChöjungMnga’ ris chos ’byung, 326-329.

Note Citation for Page

John Vincent Bellezza, Antiquities of Zhang Zhung: A Comprehensive Inventory of Pre-Buddhist Archaeological Monuments on the Tibetan Upland (Charlottesville, VA: Tibetan & Himalayan Library, 2010), .

Bibliographic Citation

John Vincent Bellezza. Antiquities of Zhang Zhung: A Comprehensive Inventory of Pre-Buddhist Archaeological Monuments on the Tibetan Upland. Charlottesville, VA: Tibetan & Himalayan Library, 2010.