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

Ribong KharruRi bong mkhar ru

Basic site data

  • Site name: Ribong KharruRi bong mkhar ru
  • English equivalent: Rabbit Castle District
  • Site number: A-105
  • Site typology: I.1x
  • Elevation: 4310 m
  • Administrative location (township): O JangO byang
  • Administrative location (county): RutokRu thog
  • Survey expedition: HTAE
  • Survey date: October 1, 2003
  • Contemporary usage: None.
  • Identifiable Buddhist constructions: None.
  • Maps: UTRS I, HAS A1
  • View Place Dictionary Entry
  • View Site Images

General site characteristics

The residential complex of Ribong KharruRi bong mkhar ru sits on a small bluish limestone outcrop, situated on the north side of Tsomo Ngangla RingtsoMtsho mo ngang la ring mtsho. It is located right on the lakeshore, 2 km east of the opening to the BarBar basin. Only a single rocky ridge separates it from Bargyi KharBar gyi mkhar (A-104). The Ribong KharruRi bong mkhar ru outcrop directly rises approximately 15 m above the lake, but is only around 10 m high on its inner side. The accessibility of the site and the lack of breastworks or other signs of fortifications indicate that this installation was not a safehold. Like ruins found on many other shorelines in Upper Tibet, Ribong KharruRi bong mkhar ru may have been an archaic religious center. Such facilities were often built on southern exposure outcrops, headlands and islands in the great lakes, which spread across the entire breadth of Upper Tibet. Typological identification of Ribong KharruRi bong mkhar ru is hampered by the very poor state of the ruins.

The axis of the Ribong KharruRi bong mkhar ru complex is oriented north-south along the spine of the outcrop. This orientation is parallel to this particular stretch of the lakeshore. The so-called kharmkhar is comprised of the foundations and fragmentary walls of four small buildings. These structures were made with 55 cm to 80 cm thick dry-stone, random-work walls. These walls contain unhewn stones 15 cm to 60 cm in length. Mostly limestone blocks were employed in construction, but some conglomerate and metamorphic stones were also used. If such walls supported roofs they are likely to have been made of wood.

Oral tradition

According to local residents, Ribong KharruRi bong mkhar ru was an ancient fortress.

Site elements

Residential complex
Residential Structure RS1

Residential structure RS1 (5.9 m by 8.6 m), the most northerly building, appears to have contained three rooms, two small ones flanking a larger central hall. B-1 is situated on the summit of the outcrop. It has wall segments that reach a maximum height of 1 m on the exterior side and 50 cm inside the structure. Outer wall segments up to 70 cm in height have survived in the highly deteriorated east room.

Residential Structure RS2

Residential structure RS2 (4.6 m by 3.5 m) is located 4.8 m south of RS1. It appears to have consisted of a single room, but most of this structure has been leveled to the foundations.

Residential Structure RS3

Residential structure RS3 (7.3 m by 5.1 m) is situated 11 m south of RS2. It consists of two nearly leveled rooms. What remains of the plan shows that the south room is considerably smaller than the north room.

Residential Structure RS4

Residential structure RS4 (6.2 m by 5.2 m) is located 14 m south of RS3. It probably contained two rooms. Exterior wall fragments reach a maximum height of 1.2 m. In the proximity there appear to be two tiny wall fragments on the rim of the formation, overlooking Tsomo Ngangla RingtsoMtsho mo ngang la ring mtsho. These may be vestiges of a wall that enclosed this flank of the site.


On a shelf, between the summit of the outcrop and the lakeshore, there is also evidence of minor structural dispersions. These appear to have constituted terracing. On the lower northern flanks of the outcrop there are the remains of four walled terraces, covering an area of approximately 17 m by 12m. The enclosed areas are more or less level. The upper two walls are highly damaged. The lower-middle terrace wall is 6.5 m in length and was built of stones up to 80 cm in length. It has a maximum height of 80 cm on its down-slope side, while its upper side is flush with the ground surface. The lower terrace wall appears to have incorporated naturally occurring boulders up to 2 m in length into its construction. The function of these terraces is enigmatic. They could either have had economic (campsites, work area, etc.) or ritual uses. Between the lakeshore and the north end of the summit of the outcrop, two wall remnants, 3.7 m and 5 m in length, create a level area against a cliff. This may well have been another building site.


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.