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

Lungten PukLung bstan phug

Basic site data

  • Site name: Lungten PukLung bstan phug
  • Site number: B-33
  • Site typology: I.2a
  • Elevation: 5010 m to 5320 m
  • Administrative location (township): BargaBar ga
  • Administrative location (county): PurangSpu rang
  • Survey expedition: HTCE
  • Survey date: May 8, 2002
  • Contemporary usage: None.
  • Identifiable Buddhist constructions: manima ṇi walls and gutted shrines.
  • Maps: UTRS V, UTRS X, HAS C4
  • View Place Dictionary Entry
  • View Site Images

General site characteristics

The 15 all-stone structures of Lungten PukLung bstan phug occupy a narrow gully, amphitheatre, cliffs, and ridgelines sandwiched between the LhachuLha chu and SerlungSer lung valleys of Mount TiséTi se. While the Buddhists undoubtedly occupied this site, it appears to have been founded during the archaic cultural horizon. The adequate shelter offered by these residential structures must have been attractive to Kagyüpabka’ brgyud pa ascetics during their 12th and 13th CE century colonization of TiséTi se. The dokhangrdo khang generally face in a southwesterly direction and are of the same construction, size, setting, and elevation as those found in the vicinity of Gyang DrakGyang grags monastery (B-9). Typically, rear walls were set deep into the slope, giving the buildings a semi-subterranean aspect. The larger specimens (around 8 m by 12 m) have three tiers of rooms or a forward courtyard and two upper tiers of rooms. Smaller specimens generally have two tiers of rooms. The dokhangrdo khang were robustly and adeptly constructed from uncut and dressed pieces of brown sandstone, 20 cm to 80 cm in length. The random-rubble walls retain traces of the mud-mortar that once filled the joints.

All dokhangrdo khang from RS5 to RS15 are in view of Langa TsoLa lnga mtsho and the Himalaya beyond. At certain times of the year the availability of drinking water may be a problem at Lungten PukLung bstan phug, but it seems likely that when the facility was active, water resources were more secure.

Oral tradition

According to natives of Mount TiséTi se (gang riwagangs ri ba), Lungten PukLung bstan phug was a Buddhist retreat center. Elderly gang riwagangs ri ba residents assert that Lungten PukLung bstan phug is also known as ShelpukShel phug (Crystal Cave).

Textual tradition

According to Böyül Nekyi Lamyik Selwé MikbuBod yul gnas kyi lam yig gsal ba’i dmig bu by Khyungkar Menriwa Loppön Tendzin NamdakKhyung dkar sman ri ba slob dpon bstan 'dzin rnam dag, Tisé Ganggi ShelpukTi se gangs kyi shel phug was the residence of Anu TraktakA nu phrag thag, a prehistoric Zhang ZhungZhang zhung master, who was a chief recipient of BönBon teachings.121 He is recorded as residing high up on the south side of TiséTi se. This site is likely to be one and the same as Lungten PukLung bstan phug and probably alludes to the archaic residential center located here.

Site elements

DokhangRdo khang complex122
Residential Structure RS1

The dokhangrdo khang RS1 is the lowest elevation specimen at Lungten PukLung bstan phug (5010 m). This south-facing structure is set on the left side of a gully and is in relatively good condition. It has a pronounced semi-subterranean aspect. Below RS1 are two old walls upon which there are plaques inscribed with the manima ṇi mantra.

Residential Structure RS2

Residential structure RS2 (5020 m) is located directly above RS1. This small edifice may only have had two rooms (east and west). In the west wall of the west room there is a large niche and in the south wall there is a window. There are also a couple in situ bridging stones in the west room. Only fragmentary walls survive in the east room.

Residential Structure RS3

Residential structure RS3 is found on the opposite side of the gully from RS1 and RS2, approximately 100 m west of RS2. It was built against a cliff. Only scant structural fragments are left.

Residential Structure RS4

Residential structure RS4 (5060 m) was built upon a ledge on the right side of the same gully that hosts RS1, RS2 and RS3. The remains of a central entranceway connect its forward and rear tiers.

Residential Structure RS5

Residential structure RS5 (5090 m) is situated on a ridgeline above RS4. It overlooks the LhachuLha chu to the west. This structure appears to have had two forward and two rear rooms. Some corbels and bridging stones are in place as are lintels over the entranceways to the various rooms. In close proximity there is an old manima ṇi wall and what appears to be the base of a chötenmchod rten.

Residential Structure RS6

Residential structure RS6 (5080 m) is situated southwest of RS5 on the same ridgeline. Very little of this structure remains intact.

Residential Structure RS7

Residential structure RS7 (5130 m) is located at the bottom of the amphitheatre that opens up above the gully in which the lower altitude dokhangrdo khang were built. This larger structure with three different levels was built on broad slopes. The lower or forward tier may be that of a courtyard.

Residential Structure RS8

Residential structure RS8 (5170) is found on the right or west rim of the amphitheatre. This fairly well-preserved structure was built on a ledge against a cliff, situated just below a ridge-top. The structure appears to have been aligned in the cardinal directions and to have contained three tiers of rooms. The west half of the building has fared much better than the east side. There seems to have been two rear rooms, which still have several in situ bridging stones. The floor-to-ceiling height in these rear rooms was not less than 1.8 m. There is a niche in the rear wall. In between the rear wall and adjoining cliff there is an intervening closed space that may have been used for storage purposes. On the west side of the middle tier there is an interclose and entranceway accessing the rear rooms. The roof over these structures is still intact. A bit of the stone roof has also persisted over the small forward tier west room as well.

Residential Structure RS9

Residential structure RS9 (5180 m) was constructed on the ridge-top above RS8. It overlooks the LhachuLha chu. This edifice has been mostly leveled. Nearby, there is a ruined cubic shrine of the type found at other archaic cultural sites.

Residential Structure RS10

Residential structure RS10 (5160 m) is found on the right rim of the amphitheatre, east of RS9. This small dokhangrdo khang was built on an outcrop. It has been largely destroyed.

Residential Structure RS11

Residential structure RS11 (5160 m) was established in the bowl of the amphitheatre against a small cliff. This larger dokhangrdo khang probably had three tiers of rooms. Exterior walls and interior partitions are around 1 m in height. The rear wall is supported by the cliff and is 1.5 m in height. A few corbels remain in situ.

Residential Structure RS12

Residential structure RS12 (5170 m) was also established in the bowl of the amphitheatre on more open ground. Measuring 8 m by 10 m, it contains three tiers of rooms. Walls up to 1.5 m in height have endured. There is a niche in the rear room and one in the middle room of the west side of the structure.

Residential Structure RS13

Residential structure RS13 is located roughly 200 m north of RS12, on the rim of the amphitheatre. It was not visited during the survey.

Residential Structure RS14

Residential structure RS14 (5320 m) stands well above the amphitheatre on a cliff, just below the summit of the site. This is a smaller dokhangrdo khang with a southeast aspect. A single corbel has survived in place in one of the two rear rooms. Stones were extracted from the structure in order to build a nearby room in the cliff. This probable Buddhist meditation cell exhibits much cruder masonry than the dokhangrdo khang.

Residential Structure RS15

Residential structure RS15 (5320 m) possesses the same aspect as RS14, but it is slightly better preserved. Evidently, there were two tiers of rooms. Walls up to 1.2 m in height and two large corbels have survived in situ.


[121] Khyungkar Menriwa Loppön Tendzin NamdakKhyung dkar sman ri ba slob dpon bstan 'dzin rnam dag, Böyül Nekyi Lamyik Selwé MikbuBod yul gnas kyi lam yig gsal ba’i dmig bu (Dehli: Bökyi Böngön DolenjiBod kyi bon dgon do lan ji, 1983), 40. For biographical information about this prehistoric saint see Bellezza, Zhang Zhung, 211, 214, 284.
[122] Due to time limitations in the field, I am not able to provide the dimensions or more details about the various structures found at Lungten PukLung bstan phug.

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.