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

Drarong MöndurGra rong mon 'dur

Basic site data

  • Site name: Drarong MöndurGra rong mon 'dur
  • English equivalent: Dragra Gorge MönMon Tombs
  • Site number: C-168
  • Site typology: II.1c
  • Elevation: 4670 m
  • Administrative location (township): JangmaByang ma
  • Administrative location (county): Drongpa’Brong pa
  • Survey expedition: TUE
  • Survey date: September 29, 2005
  • Contemporary usage: Light grazing.
  • Identifiable Buddhist constructions: None.
  • Maps: UTRS VII
  • View Place Dictionary Entry
  • View Sites Images

General site characteristics

Drarong MöndurGra rong mon 'dur is located within 200 m of the southeast foot of the limestone mount upon which Drarong Mön DzongGra rong mon rdzong (A-21) sits. It is named for dramagra ma, a woody shrub that grows in many places in Upper Tibet. The site occupies a well-drained gravelly plain that is bound in the north by the valley’s watercourse. The site has fairly constrained views in most directions. Drarong MöndurGra rong mon 'dur is comprised of a highly deteriorated array of pillars appended to an edifice. These structures were of middling size for this type of site. The rows of pillars and edifice appear to have been aligned in the cardinal directions, a common feature in this monument typology. Reportedly, the site was dismantled during the Chinese Cultural Revolution in order to build corrals and other structures. Two such corrals stand abandoned near the foot of the Drarong Mön DzongGra rong mon rdzong formation. The structures of Drarong MöndurGra rong mon 'dur were constructed using uncut pieces of local blue limestone and a greenish stone. The chronological and functional links between Drarong MöndurGra rong mon 'dur and Drarong Mön DzongGra rong mon rdzong are still unclear. It is certainly possible that they formed interrelated parts of the monumental infrastructure of the area, reflecting the lifecycle of the ancient builders.

Oral tradition

According to local drokpa’brog pa, Drarong MöndurGra rong mon 'dur is associated with the ancient MönMon.

Site elements

Appended edifice

It is reported that, until the Chinese Cultural Revolution, the edifice (temple-tomb) had standing walls around 1 m in height. This structure is now leveled and most of its stones having been carted off. It was primarily built of unshaped blue limestone blocks. The edifice roughly measures 5 m by 5.5 m, and has been reduced to 70 cm or less in height. There are no surviving coherent wall fragments. The structure now presents itself as nothing more than a stony mound.

Array of pillars

Only around 40 in situ pillars remain in the array, most of which are broken. Originally, there must have been at least 500 pillars, erected in rows, in this array. Those few surviving pillars and broken stubs are concentrated in what was the central portion of the array. Most of the pillars are made of a greenish stone. There is a distance of 11.6 m from the east edge of the edifice to the most easterly pillar. The width (north-south) of the array is conjectural (it appears to have been at least 8 m wide). The largest in situ pillar is irregularly shaped (30 cm [height] by 55 cm [basal girth]). The second largest in situ specimen is only 15 cm in height. The other unbroken pillars are even shorter. Some of the broken examples are tabular in form with their broad side oriented north and south.

Beyond the most easterly standing pillar in the array there is a network of double-course slab-wall fragments, extending 9 m further east. As would be expected, these slabs walls are also aligned in the cardinal directions. They are composed of lines of parallel slabs, spaced about 20 cm apart. The slabs (10 cm to 45 cm long) were placed in the ground edgewise, and are level with the ground surface or project above it slightly. Three of the slab-wall fragments are oriented north-south. The first of these north-south segments (1.6 m long) is found 60 cm east of the last pillar in the array. This wall segment connects with an analogous east-west slab-wall fragment that extends 8.6 m to the east. This east-west slab wall seems to coincide with the southern delimits of the pillars array. The second north-south running slab-wall fragment, a highly dissolute structure, is located 2.6 m east of the one described above. The third north-south oriented slab-wall fragment (5.2 m long) is found 2.3 m east of the second example. It runs between the east-west running slab wall to the south and another east-west aligned slab-wall fragment (3.6 m long) to the north.


Note Citation for Page

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

Bibliographic Citation

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