Tibetan and Himalayan Library - THL

THL Title Text
by John Vincent Bellezza
Edited by Geoffrey Barstow, Mickey Stockwell and Michael White
Tibetan & Himalayan Library
Published under the THL Digital Text License.

II.1. Stelae and accompanying structures: Funerary and non-funerary structures

Jiri BukByi ri sbug

Basic site data

  • Site name: Jiri BukByi ri sbug (sp.?)
  • Site number: C-164
  • Site typology: II.1c
  • Elevation: 4840 m
  • Administrative location (township): RukyokRu skyog
  • Administrative location (county): SagaSa dga’
  • Survey expedition: TUE
  • Survey date: September 2, 2005
  • Contemporary usage: Light grazing.
  • Identifiable Buddhist constructions: None.
  • Maps: UTRS XIII
  • View Place Dictionary Entry
  • View Sites Images

General site characteristics

Jiri BukByi ri sbug is located in the RongRong valley, an effluent of the Rukyok TsangpoRu skyog gtsang po. The site occupies a well-drained, turf-carpeted bench on the south side of the valley. To the north, the valley bottom is swampy. The ridge of Jiri BukByi ri sbug is situated only about 100 m to the south. On the north side of the valley there is the mountain known as GyabukRgya sbug. Both JibukByi sbug and GyabukRgya sbug are local territorial deities (yüllhayul lha). There are long views up (east) and down (west) the RongRong valley. Jiri BukByi ri sbug consists of a medium-sized example of an edifice (temple-tomb) appended to an array of pillars. The pillars, slab walls and edifice are primarily made of a grayish volcanic (?) rock.

Jiri BukByi ri sbug is the most easterly example of its monument typology surveyed south of the Transhimalaya ranges. It is situated 65 km northwest of the sacred mountain, Tsanglha PudarGtsang lha phu dar (and just 40 km west of the meridian that passes through it), the border marker of Tibet and Zhang ZhungZhang zhung, according to the BönBon text Trowo WangchenKhro bo dbang chen.192 Jiri BukByi ri sbug, a sui generis monument of the core Upper Tibetan region, furnishes independent verification of information contained in this text concerning the territorial range of Zhang ZhungZhang zhung.

Oral tradition

According to some local drokpa’brog pa, Jiri BukByi ri sbug is where the invading Gorkhas (late 18th century CE) hitched their horses (tandokrta ’dogs). Other local drokpa’Brog pa contest this tale but were unable to provide an alternative oral tradition.

Site elements

Appended edifice

The temple-tomb edifice is aligned in the cardinal directions, and measures 9 m (north-south) by 6.5 m (east-west). No coherent wall fragments have survived in this highly degraded structure. It has been reduced in appearance to a mound ringed with stones. This structure is elevated 80 cm to 1.5 m above the surrounding terrain. Variable-length (up to 75 cm long) stones were used in its construction.

Pillar array

The concourse of pillars approximately measures 20 m (east-west) by 17 m (north-south). It is in very poor condition: only about 130 specimens are still left standing. There are also a few uprooted pillars strewn around the concourse. These standing and dislodged pillars are but a small fraction of the perhaps 1000 menhirs that originally stood at the site. The individual pillars range between 10 cm to 60 cm in height, with an average height of approximately 20 cm. Most of these unhewn standing stones are irregularly shaped, and some of them support orange climax lichen growth. The majority of the in situ pillars are in the southwest portion of the array. Only the tallest pillar at the site and one other specimen still stand in the northern half of the array (nothing else has survived in this obliterated part of the array). A maximum of three pillars adjacent to one another stand in any one row, providing some idea of how fragmentary the array has become.

Four meters east of the most easterly in situ pillar there is a double-course north-south running slab-wall fragment (approximately 6.5 m long). This wall is composed of parallel courses of upright slabs, (7 cm to 40 cm long) set about 25 cm apart from one another. These slabs are level with the ground surface. The south end of this slab wall seems to coincide with the southeast corner of the pillar array. A single line of upright slabs forms a roughly square enclosure (70 cm by 70 cm), which lies adjacent to the east side of the double-course slab wall, 4.5 m north of its southern end. A zone of tiny slab fragments oriented both east-west and north-south is situated 3.5 m east of the south end of the double-course slab wall. The precise configuration of these wall fragments is no longer discernable. The north-south running, double-course slab wall bounding the east side of the pillar array is connected to an east-west aligned slab wall of the same type (6.3 m long). This east-west wall bounds the south side of the pillar array.


[192] The border of Tibet (Bod) and Zhang ZhungZhang zhung is discussed using textual and archaeological data in Bellezza, “Territorial Characteristics of the Archaic Zhang-zhung Paleocultural Entity.”

Note Citation for Page

John Vincent Bellezza, (Charlottesville, VA: Tibetan & Himalayan Library, 2010), .

Bibliographic Citation

John Vincent Bellezza. . Charlottesville, VA: Tibetan & Himalayan Library, 2010.