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

Sinmo DzongSrin mo rdzong

Basic site data

  • Site name: Sinmo DzongSrin mo rdzong
  • English equivalent: Fortress of the Sinmo
  • Alternative site name: Sokcham KhangSog lcam khang
  • English equivalent: House of the sog po Lady
  • Site number: B-76
  • Site typology: I.2x
  • Elevation: 4650 m
  • Administrative location (county): Drongpa’Brong pa
  • Survey expedition: UTAE
  • Survey date: April 13, 2001
  • Contemporary usage: None.
  • Identifiable Buddhist constructions: Plaques with the manima ṇi mantra and chötenmchod rten.
  • Maps: UTRS XI, HAS C6
  • View Place Dictionary Entry
  • View Site Images

General site characteristics

The remains of what is reported to have been a residential structure called Sinmo DzongSrin mo rdzong are found on a sandy plain in the midst of SokSog village. The fragmentary foundations of the single structure are aligned in the cardinal directions, and are elevated about 1.5 m above the surrounding plain. The main foundation measures 13 m (north-south) by 10 m (east-west) and contains stones predominantly 70 cm to 1.2 m in length. On this foundation, a chötenmchod rten and wall with manima ṇi plaques were built with stones extracted from the ruins. Traces of wall-footings are also found 6 m east of the main foundation. A smaller building is said to have once stood here. The oral traditions associated with the site suggest that it has an ancient origin. Its local identification as a fortress is suspect, however, because it is not located on high, protected ground.

Oral tradition

According to villagers of SokSog, a six-sided building attributed to the ancient SokpoSog po (a Turco-Mongolian or Indo-European group) was founded at Sinmo DzongSrin mo rdzong. The SokpoSog po are thought to have colonized the locale in the distant past. It is said that the ruins resembled those at Beltsa GyangtrokBal tshwa gyang khrog near Dargyé LingDar rgyas gling, SagaSa dga’ county. Local elders report that this windowless edifice had an east-facing entrance around 1 m in height. The structure stood in a fairly good state of preservation until it was gradually demolished beginning in the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Elders report, however, that the edifice did not have a roof during their lifetimes. In the pre-modern period the walls of the so-called fortress were taller than the present day chötenmchod rten (they were probably around 4 m in height). The stones removed from the monument were used to build corrals around SokSog village. Some drokpa’brog pa claim that a stone with an inscription somewhat resembling Chinese was found in the foundation of the structure. According to Arus MenlaA rus sman bla (born circa 1920), a recognized expert on local history, Sinmo DzongSrin mo rdzong was founded around the same time as Beltsa GyangtrokBal tshwa gyang khrog (there are very impressive ruins at this site).127 He believes that it was in use until the LhasaLha sa government period (mid-17th century to 1959 CE), and was once occupied by a Singpasing pa (invaders from the northwest Subcontinent) army.

According to local folklore, seven sinmosrin mo (a man-eating demoness) sisters once occupied the site. One night the sinmosrin mo decided to build themselves a house (sinmosrin mo only work at night, say local elders). These evil beings had already built the foundation and walls when Guru RinpochéGu ru rin po che, the 8th century CE Vajrayāna hero, arrived to stop them. Had the sinmosrin mo been able to complete their dwelling it would have had very deleterious consequences for the entire countryside. Guru RinpochéGu ru rin po che magically made the sun appear early. The sunrays caught the sinmosrin mo unaware and they perished in the light of the day. Guru RinpochéGu ru rin po che left his hat (wuzhadbu zhwa) behind in order to subdue the locale. His hat became the supporting mountain (Gyaprirgyab ri) of SokSog village known as Sokgyap RiSog rgyab ri.

Affiliated sites

Tomb

Approximately 200 m southwest of Sinmo DzongSrin mo rdzong there are the vestiges of an enclosure that may have measured around 7 m by 7 m. All that is left are two stones protruding about 30 cm above the surface. Reportedly, when local residents dismantled this enclosure several years ago the bones of at least two humans were unearthed. These skeletal remains are said to have represented an adult and juvenile. Minute traces of what appear to be bleached human bones are found in the vicinity.

Fortifications

On the lower summit of Sokgyap RiSog rgyab ri (4830 m) there are two small superficial structures that local sources say are ancient fortifications (makradmag ra). Called Guru Wuzha MakraGu ru dbu zhwa dmag ra, these minor structures were built on level, rocky ground. They have been reduced to 60 cm or less in height and measure approximately 2 m by 2.5 m. Stones up to 90 cm in length went into the construction of these so-called makradmag ra.


Notes

[127] According to Loppön Tendzin NamdakSlob dpon bstan ’dzin rnam dag (in personal communication), this location is probably the same as Taktsé JaniStag rtse bya ni, which is associated with the YangelYa ngal clan of shengshen practitioners. Yangel Yangtön Chenpo Sherap GyeltsenYa ngal yang ston chen po shes rab rgyal mtshan is recorded as migrating from taktséStag rtse to LowoGlo bo in the 12th century CE (Guntram Hazod, “The Yul Lha Gsol of Mtsho Yul. On the relation between the mountain and lake in the context of the “land god ritual” of Phoksumdo (Northwestern Nepal),” in Reflections of the Mountain. Essays on the History and Social Meaning of the Mountain Cult in Tibet and the Himalaya, edited by Anne-Marie Blondeau and Ernst Steinkellner, 91-112 [Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1996]: 92).
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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.