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

AwangA dbang

Basic site data

  • Site name: AwangA dbang
  • Site number: B-42
  • Site typology: I.2a
  • Elevation: 5170 m to 5210 m
  • Administrative location (township): BargaBar ga
  • Administrative location (county): PurangSpu rang
  • Survey expedition: HTCE
  • Survey date: October 30, 2002
  • Contemporary usage: None.
  • Identifiable Buddhist constructions: None.
  • Maps: UTRS VI, UTRS X, HAS C4
  • View Place Dictionary Entry
  • View Site Images

General site characteristics

AwangA dbang,125 a settlement of all-stone corbelled edifices, is located in the eponymous valley east of the TiséTi se pilgrim’s circuit. The site occupies the north rim of an amphitheatre in the upper portion of the AwangA dbang Valley. Below this amphitheatre, the many rivulets of the Awang ChuA dbang chu converge. The nine poorly preserved dokhangrdo khang of the site were built on a series of rocky and turf-covered shelves. The shifting sandy soil appears to have hastened their disintegration. Although the structures are quite widely spaced, they are all in view of one another. A pass called NangchulaNang chu la connects AwangA dbang with Dzong ChuRdzong chu on the TiséTi se circumambulatory trail. The edifices of AwangA dbang have a southern or southwestern aspect and are in eyeshot of Langa TsoLa lnga mtsho. From vantage points just above the site Mapam YutsoMa pham g.yu mtsho can also be seen. Although all the dokhangRdo khang are extremely degraded, it appears that they were constructed in the typical fashion. All structures have been leveled below the roofline. Rather than being oriented in the cardinal directions, these buildings were aligned in conformance with local topographic conditions. There are no signs of mortar in the random-rubble walls (50 cm to 60 cm thick). Gray slabs of variable length (primarily 20 cm to 60 cm long) were used in the construction of these walls. Scattered among the debris of the dokhangRdo khang are corbels and roof sheathing (up to 1.5 m long).

AwangA dbang was an integral community occupying an exclusive geographic zone. It probably catered to the religious and perhaps political elite of the region, who physically removed themselves from the main centers of economic production (pastoral and agricultural) located in lower elevation areas. Unlike some of the archaic residential sites around TiséTi se, there are no signs that the Buddhists reoccupied AwangA dbang. Its location outside the confines of the TiséTi se circumambulatory path appears to have made this site of marginal importance to the Buddhists of the area. Given the extent of the ruins, several dozen people may have once resided at any given time at AwangA dbang. There would be little use for a single individual to occupy the eight or nine rooms that seem to have comprised most buildings. As such, these dokhangrdo khang may have housed family units or groups of religious practitioners.

Oral tradition

None appears to exist.

Site elements

Residential complex
Residential Structure RS1

Residential structure RS1 (9.3 m by 4.3 m)126 is located on the edge of a grassy prow (30° 58.04΄ N. lat. / 81° 22.98΄ E. long. / 5170 m). It is possible that there was also a forward tier of rooms in this building (adding about 4 m to its width) but the structural evidence is inconclusive. Most of RS1 has been reduced to fragmentary foundations but small standing wall segments (up to 60 cm high) also exist.

Residential Structure RS2

Residential structure RS2 (13 m by 5.1 m) is located directly above RS1 on a small rocky shelf (58.08΄ / 23.04΄ / 5210 m). A forward wall fragment (1.5 m long, 1 m high) has survived but the rest of the structure has been leveled. It appears to have had two rows of rooms oriented laterally with the slope. These rows are at the same elevation and each probably contained four rooms. The rear wall of RS2 is built into the uphill slope to a depth of 50 cm.

Residential Structure RS3

Residential structure RS3 (7.2 m by 4.6 m) has been reduced to a dissolute foundation overgrown with turf (58.12΄ / 22.97΄ / 5210 m).

Residential Structure RS4

Residential structure RS4 (14 m by 8 m) is situated 10 m northwest of RS3. This relatively large structure had two or three rows of rooms all built at the same elevation. Most walls have been leveled but in spots they reach up to 80 cm in height. Most partition walls have been destroyed so the ground plan of RS4 is ambiguous. The rear wall of RS4 is built about 50 cm into the uphill slope.

Residential Structure RS5

Residential structure RS5 (approximately 7.2 m by 7.2 m) is situated 35 m northwest of RS4. RS5 sits on its own turf-covered shelf. Only the tiniest bits of coherent footings have survived.

Residential Structure RS6

Residential structure RS6 (11.2 m by 12.2 m) is the largest structure at AwangA dbang, and occupies its own grassy shelf (58.16΄ / 22.90΄ / 52 10 m). It contained three rows of rooms, probably with three rooms in each. The rear row of rooms is situated about 70 cm higher than the two forward rows. Only small coherent wall segments remain in RS6; these reach a maximum height of 60 cm. An east wall fragment is built 90 cm into the slope.

Residential Structure RS7

Residential structure RS7 (10 m by 8.4 m) is located directly below RS6 at the foot of a slope (58.13΄ / 22.90΄ / 5190 m). This edifice has been reduced to heaps of stones except for its rear wall, which was built 50 cm to 90 cm into the uphill slope.

Residential Structure RS8

Residential structure RS8 (9 m by 8.5 m) is situated 20 m west of RS7 on the same shelf (58.13΄ / 22.88 ΄ / 5190 m). This structure is so deteriorated that even little of its foundation is coherent. There is a small lharélhas ra (corral) amid rubble on the edge of a shelf 53 m southwest of RS8. This corral and stones dispersed around it could possibly have been part of another dokhangrdo khang or a shrine complex.

Residential Structure RS9

Residential structure RS9 was built on the same shelf as RS7 and RS8 (58.10΄ / 22.89΄ / 5190 m). RS9 is so fragmentary that even its overall dimensions are unclear.


[125] Possibly the spelling of this toponym should be AwangA wang, reflecting a Zhang ZhungZhang zhung language orthography. A place called AwangA wang that appears to be located in GugéGu ge is noted in conjunction with medieval military campaigns (Vitali, The Kingdoms of Gu.ge Pu.hrang, 827, n. 357).
[126] The first dimension given for the various dokhangrdo khang conforms to the tranverse plane of the slope.

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.