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

Tangra DoringThang ra rdo ring

Basic site data

  • Site name: Tangra DoringThang ra rdo ring
  • Site number: C-94
  • Site typology: II.1b
  • Elevation: 4350 m
  • Administrative location (township): RisumRi gsum
  • Administrative location (county): RutokRu thog
  • Survey expedition: UTAE
  • Survey date: May 25, 2001
  • Contemporary usage: As a shrine for the worship of a local divinity.
  • Identifiable Buddhist constructions: Prayer flags and at least one manima ṇi plaque.
  • Maps: UTRS I, HAS A1
  • View Place Dictionary Entry
  • View Sites Images

General site characteristics

Tangra DoringThang ra rdo ring is located on the east side of the Maga TsangpoMa ga gtsang po, near the mouth of a small side valley. The terrain is sandy and gently sloping. The main road between RutokRu thog and the NgariMnga’ ris prefectural headquarters runs within 100 m of the archaeological site. Road construction and the building of corrals has disturbed the area around the site. Tangra DoringThang ra rdo ring was vandalized during the Chinese Cultural Revolution; not one pillar remains whole. The site constitutes one of the most westerly examples of the stelae erected inside an enclosure typology (II.1b) in Upper Tibet (also see C-95 and C-112). The border of LadakLa dwags is only about 30 km to the west.

Oral tradition

According to area residents, Tangra DoringThang ra rdo ring is a sacred site of ancient times.

Site elements


Fortunately most parts of the four walls of the enclosure have survived. These walls are oriented almost to the intermediate points. The enclosure measures 12 m (southwest-northeast) by 5.7 m (southeast-northwest). The double-course enclosure walls (50 cm to 70 cm thick) were constructed with variable-length (25 cm to 60 cm long) stones. Some of these stones are level with the ground surface while others project as much as 40 cm above it.


All the pillars were erected near the inner edge of the southwest wall (they are mostly concentrated near the north corner) of the enclosure. Originally, there were at least eight pillars. These include seven tabular specimens, all of which are now 50 cm or less in height. At least three types of rocks were used as pillars, including a grayish grained type (igneous?) that was also used to construct the enclosure. Another type of rock is black in color. The main pillar of the site was broken about 40 cm above ground level. The broken upper section is 1.25 m long and has been propped back into position with the help of a pile of stones. This was part of an attempt by local residents to rehabilitate the site. The main pillar is irregularly shaped and has a girth of about 1 m. It is covered in butter and red ochre. This pillar is seasonally propitiated in invocation and offering rituals (sölwagsol ba) by the local drokpa’brog pa, who regard it as the sanctuary of a local divinity.170 There are poles, with prayer flags attached, in the pile of rocks supporting the pillar. There is also at least one plaque inscribed with the manima ṇi mantra. Next to the cairn there are ashes from incense offerings.


[170] A local territorial deity is Ama MentsiA ma sman rtsis (sp.?), whose home is a mountain to the west. The RisumRi gsum township official who accompanied the survey team to the site did not know whether this is the deity propitiated at the archaeological site.

Note Citation for Page

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

Bibliographic Citation

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