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

Gyaplung DoringRgyab lung rdo ring

Basic site data

  • Site name: Gyaplung DoringRgyab lung rdo ring
  • English equivalent: Back Valley Long-stones
  • Site number: C-13
  • Site typology: II.1a, II.2a
  • Elevation: 4850 m
  • Administrative location (township): HorHor
  • Administrative location (county): PurangSpu rang
  • Survey expedition: UTAE
  • Survey date: April 22, 2001
  • Contemporary usage: Light grazing.
  • Identifiable Buddhist constructions: None.
  • Maps: UTRS X
  • View Place Dictionary Entry
  • View Sites Images

General site characteristics

Gyaplung DoringRgyab lung rdo ring is located on the eastern edge of the Gonggyü TsoGong rgyud mtsho basin. The sandy, gently sloping ground has only scant grass cover. The site has very open vistas in the west overlooking the sacred BönBon holy lake, Gunggyü TsoGung rgyud mtsho/Gongkhyung Ngül TsoGong khyung dngul mtsho. The views north and south are partly open but in the east, they are constrained by mountains. The main focus of the site is two tall in situ pillars. There are no signs of an enclosure (thus the site’s inclusion in the II.1a typology), but it may have completely disappeared in the sandy terrain. The area around the pillars is level and slightly elevated above the surrounding ground level, morphological qualities often associated with the pillars erected in an enclosure typology (II.1b). There are also outlying funerary superstructures at Gyaplung DoringRgyab lung rdo ring.

Oral tradition

None was collected.

Site elements

Pillar complex

The tallest pillar is a slim, well-cut, four-sided pillar (2.2 m [height] by 80 cm [(basal girth]). This graceful pillar is only 20 cm to 30 cm wide on each of its four sides. Next to it there is a tabular pillar (1.6 m by 1 m) with stones piled against it. In close proximity to the two standing stones there are three dislodged specimens, one of which is 2 m in length. As they are partially submerged, the length of the other two uprooted ones could not be determined. Visible portions of them are 1.9 m and 1.8 m in length. Sixteen meters west of the tallest stele there is a 75 cm long rock slab fixed in the ground, which appears to be the sole surviving appurtenance of a superstructure. There are other stones scattered about, in the proximity, that may have been part of integral constructions as well, but not enough is extant to discern their character.

There is also a group of eight unbroken prostrate pillars situated 36 m southeast of the two standing examples. These pillars are four-sided and tabular. They have the same slim form and are made of the same dark-colored rock as their in situ counterparts. These collapsed stelae form a row of stones with a north-south orientation. From west to east these pillars measure 1.3 m (partly buried), 1.9 m, 2.4 m, 2 m, 2m (partly buried), 1.7 m, and 2 m (partly buried) in length. The most easterly unbroken specimen is still rooted in the ground despite its radical tilt. It sticks 1.9 m out of the ground and has a basal girth of 1.9 m.

Funerary superstructures

Some distance away from the pillars, at slightly lower elevation, there are two dispersions of single-course rectangular stone enclosures. They were erected on open sandy ground and are not well aligned in the cardinal directions. These enclosures are funerary in character but it could not be determined if they had a burial or non-burial function. The enclosures are made from stones up to 80 cm in length, the regular faces of which suggest that some of them may have been partially cut into shape. These stones are flush with the ground surface or raised a maximum of 20 cm above it. Most integrated stones appear to have been laid flat but some may have been installed in the ground edgewise as well. Rocks of different colors and types were used in the construction of the enclosures.

A row of at least five enclosures begins 78 m north of funerary structure FS6. This group of enclosures extends in a northwest line for 70 m. There is evidence indicating that there were more than five specimens in the row, but these additional enclosures are now either too heavily degraded or obscured by the sandy ground to make a positive assessment. From the northwest (lower) end of the row, the five distinct enclosures have the following dimensions:

  1. Funerary structure FS1 (3 m by 7.5 m): at this structure there are two slabs (around 1.3 m long) lying on the ground. These were either part of the superstructure or extracted from the substructure.
  2. Funerary structure FS2 (4.2 m by 8 m). There are the probable remains of another enclosure 18 m north of FS2
  3. Funerary structure FS3 (3.8 m by 8.2 m).
  4. Funerary structure FS4 (4 m by ?): this enclosure is very heavily deteriorated. The probable traces of another specimen are located 11 m to the north.
  5. Funerary structure FS5 (3.8 m by 9 m).
  6. Funerary structure FS6 (12 m by 7 m) is located 90 m northwest of the tallest in situ pillar. This fragmentary enclosure seems to stand off on its own.

Note Citation for Page

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

Bibliographic Citation

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