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.2. Residential Structures in Other Locations: Religious and Elite Residences

Yachü DrakpukG.ya’ bcud brag phug

Basic site data

  • Site name: Yachü DrakpukG.ya’ bcud brag phug
  • Alternative site name: Yachü TsamkhangG.ya’ bcud mtshams khang
  • Site number: B-32
  • Site typology: I.2a
  • Elevation: 4910 m to 4970 m
  • Administrative location (township): BaryangBar yangs
  • Administrative location (county): Drongpa’Brong pa
  • Survey expedition: HTCE
  • Survey date: April 28, 2002
  • Contemporary usage: None.
  • Identifiable Buddhist constructions: None.
  • Maps: UTRS XI, HAS C5
  • View Place Dictionary Entry
  • View Site Images

General site characteristics

Yachü DrakpukG.ya’ bcud brag phug, the site of highly decomposed dokhangrdo khang, is named for a medicinal herb (see C-110). Yachü DrakpukG.ya’ bcud brag phug is located at the head of the YachüG.ya’ bcud valley, near where it joins the NyintröSnying ’khrod valley. This stretch of the YachüG.ya’ bcud valley is endowed with perennial springs and is very isolated. At present it is completely uninhabited. To the west, high ridges hem in the site. Access is from the southeast, a direction in which potential adversaries could be spotted a long way off. Yachü DrakpukG.ya’ bcud brag phug consists of seven southeast-facing all-stone edifices built against cliffs on the left side of the narrow upper valley. The dokhangrdo khang were heavily constructed and possess random-work walls containing variable-sized blocks. The walls tend to be thick (70 cm to 90 cm) and composed of many larger stones (70 cm to 90 cm in length). The wall-joints were mud mortared, most of which has washed away leaving an obdurate lichen-covered residue. Very little of the stone roofs of the structures remain intact.

Oral tradition

Yachü DrakpukG.ya’ bcud brag phug is said by local residents to have been an ancient religious center.

Site elements

DokhangRdo khang complex

Residential structures RS1, RS2 and RS3 are found in the valley bottom.

Residential Structure RS1

Residential structure RS1 (4910 m) is the lowest elevation structure at Yachü DrakpukG.ya’ bcud brag phug. All that remains of this rock shelter is a fragmentary foundation approximately 5 m in length, which overarches a 1 m wide ledge. Just below RS1 there is a cave that does not appear to have been modified for human use, probably because of water seepage.

Lower shrine

On the opposite side of the valley from RS1 there is a ruined shrine that was built on a grassy slope. It consists of a masonry platform aligned in the compass points, which is elevated 50 cm above the ground surface. It measures 5 m (north-south) by 2.5 m (east-west). Upon this platform are the remains of two degraded superstructures, approximately 1 m in height. Little can be said regarding their original design or function. This shrine most resembles a chötenmchod rten or tenkharrten mkhar. In terms of weathering and structural deterioration, the shrine seems to be an integral part of the Yachü DrakpukG.ya’ bcud brag phug complex.

Residential Structure RS2

Residential structure RS2 (4930 m) is located some tens of meters up valley from RS1. RS2 contained around ten rooms and its forward wall is 21 m in length; thus it appears that this was the largest edifice at the site. The structure was probably built in three tiers, the uppermost of which terminates at a cliff face. At the very highest point of the building there is a 3 m deep cave that is divided into two chambers. The masonry walls and stone roof surrounding this cave are partially intact. The best-kept freestanding room in RS2 is the upper tier west specimen (1.9 m by 2.2 m to 3.3 m). The walls of this room are up to 1.5 m in height and 90 cm in thickness, robust enough to have supported a stone roof. The rest of the building is dissolute; only foundations and a few scattered wall segments endure.

Residential Structure RS3

Residential structure RS3 (4930 m) is situated 12 m up valley or west of RS2 at the edge of a cliff. This structure (8 m by 4 m) was probably constructed in two tiers but only highly decayed exterior walls survive. There is also part of the wall dividing the two tiers of the edifice but none of it is freestanding. A forward (southeastern) wall segment is 2 m in height.

Residential structures RS4, RS5 and RS6 were built on dark scree-strewn slopes below the rocky formation that crowns the valley.

Residential Structure RS4

Residential structure RS4 (6 m by 5 m / 4950 m) is situated 63 m west of RS3. The forward section of the building has been largely obliterated. There also appear to have been two upslope or rear rooms. A wall buttress partially separates the two rear rooms. The rear wall was built 1.2 m into the slope. A few corbels and one roofing slab are in situ.

Residential Structure RS5

Residential structure RS5 (4950 m) is located 6.5 m directly upslope of RS4, and was built against a cliff. Mostly destroyed, this structure appears to have been approximately 6 m in length. Supported by the cliff, the rear wall is 1 m to 1.2 m high. A single in situ bridging stone still adheres to the rear wall.

Residential Structure RS6

Residential structure RS6 (5.2 m by 3 m / 4940 m) is situated 14 m southwest and slightly downhill of RS5. Only some pieces of its exterior skeleton are extant. A forward wall fragment attains an elevation of 2.3 m. There is one corbel positioned on the rear wall.

Upper shrine

Eighteen meters down slope from RS6 near the valley bottom there are the remains of another shrine. The base of this structure (4 m by 4 m) is slightly raised above-ground level and is aligned in the cardinal directions. Resting upon it are the remains of a superstructure (2.5 m by 2.5 m by 1 m) that has degraded into an amorphous pile of rubble. Like the lower shrine, the upper shrine appears to have been an integral part of the residential complex.

Residential Structure RS7

Residential structure RS7 (10 m by 4 m / 4970 m) was built on top of a distinctive dark-colored ridge-top. From this vantage point there are excellent views of the surrounding terrain. This structure appears to have had rooms set at two elevations against a cliff. A forward wall section is up to 2.5 m in height. A shallow cave was incorporated into a lower level room. In the upper level of RS7 a round surveillance structure was subsequently constructed with stones extracted from the dokhangrdo khang. Built sometime in the pre-modern period, a portion of its simple slab roof has survived. This rudimentary structure has a small window opening in the east wall.


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.