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

Garsöl DrakpukSgar gsol brag phug

Basic site data

  • Site name: Garsöl DrakpukSgar gsol brag phug130
  • Site number: B-119
  • Site typology: I.2c
  • Elevation: 4780 m
  • Administrative location (township): MayoMa g.yo
  • Administrative location (county): ShentsaShan rtsa
  • Survey expedition: HTCE
  • Survey date: September 30, 2002
  • Contemporary usage: None.
  • Identifiable Buddhist constructions: None.
  • Maps: UTRS VIII, HAS D4
  • View Place Dictionary Entry
  • View Site Images

General site characteristics

The large cave sanctuary of Garsöl DrakpukSgar gsol brag phug is perched in a limestone escarpment, which overlooks an extensive marshy basin spread out some 80 m below it. This is the site of extremely important BönBon pictographs (J-16). The south-facing cave consists of one large chamber, 48 m long and 4.5 m to 9 m in width. The mouth of the cave is roughly 10 m in height and above the entrance there is a natural skylight. The floor gradually rises towards the rear of the cave and the ceiling tapers downwards but this grotto remains spacious in all places. The structural remnants found in and around Garsöl DrakpukSgar gsol brag phug appear to be just a small portion of what once stood in this cave. These various walls and footings seem to have had both residential and ceremonial functions. The large size of the cave and its substantial anthropogenic modification point to the existence of a significant archaic cultural installation. Most of the rock paintings are found on the right wall of the cave. The lofty location and the presence of BönBon pictographs probably identify Garsöl DrakpukSgar gsol brag phug as an early BönBon religious center.

Oral tradition

Some local drokpa’brog pa maintain that Guru RinpochéGu ru rin po che visited Garsöl DrakpukSgar gsol brag phug.

Site elements


Outside the mouth of the cave grotto there are the remains of stone steps flanked by masonry walls, which line each side of the entrance. These walls extend for 8 m and join the vestiges of an elaborate façade that spanned the mouth of the cave. The 50 cm to 70 cm thick cave façade that barricaded the mouth of the grotto is partially intact along its east and west extremities. The façade was skillfully built with a random-rubble texture, and contains stones that average 20 cm to 30 cm in length (full range: 15 cm to 50 cm long). Copious amounts of mud-mortar were applied to the wall joints. The east segment of the façade is 5.5 m in length and up to 5 m in height. The west fragment of the façade is 7.5 m in length and a maximum of 4 m in height. The base of a room (2.1 m by 1.5 m) elevated above the cave floor is ensconced in the west portion of the façade.

Internal cave structures

Behind the cave front, wall-footings line each side of the narrowest portion of Garsöl DrakpukSgar gsol brag phug. These walls are 5 m in length, a maximum of 1.5 m in width and 30 cm to 40 cm in height. What kind of structure they contributed towards is not known. Farther back, on the right side of the cave, there is an enclosure (13 m by 5 m), which is also composed of masonry footings. These wall remains are about 60 cm wide and elevated around 50 cm above the floor of the cave.


[130] This site was documented by Pel Riwa Lozang TrashiDpal ri ba blo bzang bkra shis in 2001.

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.