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

DopukRdo phug

Basic site data

  • Site name: DopukRdo phug
  • English equivalent: Stone Cave
  • Site number: B-135
  • Site typology: I.2c
  • Elevation: 4520 m
  • Administrative location (township): Götsang MéRgod tshang smad
  • Administrative location (county): GarSgar
  • Survey expedition: THE
  • Survey date: May 26, 2006.
  • Contemporary usage: None.
  • Identifiable Buddhist constructions: None.
  • Maps: UTRS V
  • View Place Dictionary Entry
  • View Site Images

General site characteristics

The large cave of DopukRdo phug is situated in a limestone gorge, a tributary of the Tritso TsangpoKhri tsho gtsang po. The cave is well hidden from the Tritso TsangpoKhri tsho gtsang po, a relatively low elevation valley with rich pasturelands. This residence was well sheltered from the elements and perhaps from enemies as well. DopukRdo phug has a southern exposure making it especially attractive for habitation. There is much rubble in the mouth of the cave and the traces of various masonry structures inside. From the outermost footings (probably the highly obscured roots of a façade) it is 30 m to the rear of DopukRdo phug. The cave is 8 m to 12 m wide and has a ceiling more than 3 m in height. The structural remains suggest that this cave once accommodated a fairly large group of residents. The gorge in which DopukRdo phug is located is now devoid of permanent sources of water (the closest perennial source is the Tritso TsangpoKhri tsho gtsang po situated nearly 3 km away). Perhaps the hydrological status of this gorge was different in ancient times.

Oral tradition

According to local sources, DopukRdo phug was a habitation of the ancient MönMon.

Site elements

From the outer-most footings there are probably three more lines of parallel footings extending 13 m into the cave. Each of these wall traces is at a slightly higher elevation (the floor of the cave angles upward from the entrance). These high dissolute remains must have been part of significant forward structures that barricaded the entrance to DopukRdo phug. In the middle of the rear of the cave there is a masonry structure (1.1 m long, 1.2 m high) set on a rock outcrop below a low point in the ceiling. Stones up to 35 cm in length and large amounts of a clay-based mortar were used in its construction. This enigmatic structure resembles a partition wall but may actually have had a ceremonial function. In the rear of DopukRdo phug, on its east side, there is a ledge (4 m long, about 2 m wide) suspended above the cave floor. The west and east sides of this ledge are bounded by walls (1.2 m and 1.3 m long) that are only one vertical course of stones in height. Adjacent to the east side of this ledge there is another ledge that is about 3 m in width. On the forward/south side of the east ledge there are the remains of a wall (3.5 m long, up to 60 cm high), composed of stones up to 50 cm in length. It is not known whether these walled ledges had a utilitarian or ceremonial function. On the west side of the middle portion of DopukRdo phug there appears to be an extremely degraded structure (6 m by 3.5 m) now reduced to a shallow covering of stones.


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.