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

Riwa MönkharRi ba mon mkhar

Basic site data

  • Site name: Riwa MönkharRi ba mon mkhar
  • Site number: A-131
  • Site typology: I.1x
  • Elevation: 4330 m
  • Administrative location (township): ZarangZa rang
  • Administrative location (county): TsamdaRtsa mda’
  • Survey expedition: HTWE
  • Survey date: July 18, 2004
  • Contemporary usage: None.
  • Identifiable Buddhist constructions: None.
  • Maps: UTRS V, HAS C2
  • View Place Dictionary Entry
  • View Site Images

General site characteristics

The ruins of Riwa MönkharRi ba mon mkhar are located upstream of RiwaRi ba village, on the top of a prominence that rises above the left bank of the Riwa ChuRi ba chu. This conspicuous site, 40 m above the stream, is not particularly well protected; higher ground flanks its south side. Very little of the sandstone ruins that once stood here remain – only small fragments of revetments. Most of the structures have long since poured down the steep slopes. There has also been a major slope failure engulfing the north side of the summit, carrying away an unknown portion of the facility. Given its location, Riwa MönkharRi ba mon mkhar is likely to have been a palace and/or fortification. The summit is 21 m in length (southeast-northwest) but is now only 2 m to 3 m wide (clearly, at one time it was somewhat wider). While never a large installation, small structures extended at least 5 m below the summit along the south side of the hill. On this south flank two revetment fragments have survived (7 m in length and up to 70 cm in height, 2.5 m in length). On the west side of the summit a revetment segment 8 m in length is still in place, as well as a smaller wall fragment on the north rim of the summit. Stones in these walls reach a maximum length of 70 cm. Little else at the site remains in situ. Just south of Riwa MönkharRi ba mon mkhar there is an abandoned field.

Oral tradition

According to local lore, Riwa MönkharRi ba mon mkhar was an ancient MönMon castle.

Affiliated sites

Ri Jowa KhangpaRi jo ba khang pa

On the east edge of RiwaRi ba there is an old house that reportedly belonged to the Ri Jowari jo ba, the foremost members of a special class of religious practitioners who were influential during the time of the Buddhist GugéGu ge kings.92 It is also locally reported that this house was once owned by relatives of the third KarmapaKarma pa, Rangjung DorjéRang byung rdo rje (born in Mangyül GungtangMang yul gung thang in 1284 CE). This residence, which miraculously escaped destruction during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, has a random-rubble base and adobe block upper walls. There are both newer and older windows in the two- to three-story tall structure. The Ri Jowa KhangpaRi jo ba khang pa is now occupied by an elderly woman.


[92] For information on the Ri Jowari jo ba see Gugé Tsering GyelpoGu ge tshe ring rgyal po, Gugé Tsering Gyelpö Chetsom ChoktrikGu ge tshe ring rgyal po’i ched rtsom phyogs bsgrigs (Lhasa: Trunggö Bö Rikpa Petrün KhangKrung go’i bod rig pa dpe skrun khang, 2005), 159-170.

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.