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

Kekar MöndurRked dkar mon dur

Basic site data

  • Site name: Kekar MöndurRked dkar mon dur
  • Site number: C-154
  • Site typology: II.1c
  • Elevation: 4370 m
  • Administrative location (township): TsakhaTshwa kha
  • Administrative location (county): GegyéDge rgyas
  • Survey expedition: UTAE
  • Survey date: June 4, 2001
  • Contemporary usage: The site has been destroyed to make way for a road.
  • Identifiable Buddhist constructions: None.
  • Maps: UTRS II
  • View Place Dictionary Entry
  • View Sites Images

General site characteristics

Kekar MöndurRked dkar mon dur was situated 5 km west of the town of TsakhaTshwa kha in the midst of the TsakhaTshwa kha basin. By 2001, this rare and highly valuable site had been heavily impacted by construction crews improving an east-west link road to GegyéDge rgyas. It is reported that explosives were used on the archaeological site in order to dislodge its stone elements. Kekar MöndurRked dkar mon dur stood next to one of the many parallel tracks traversing the TsakhaTshwa kha basin. By 2002, the site had been utterly destroyed by the road building effort, the stones ripped from the ground to build the new road bed. Clearly, in the wide open stable terrain of the TsakhaTshwa kha basin, the new road could have been easily diverted around the site. The availability of stones in the monument and old superstitions, however, proved too much for the poorly advised road workers. Kekar MöndurRked dkar mon dur stood on gravelly and sandy well-drained terrain. The site consisted of a concourse of standing stones and an appended edifice. The small unhewn pillars were of two or three types of rock red or white in color. The same white calcareous rock used for some of the standing stones was employed in the construction of the appended edifice.

Oral tradition

Local sources report that Kekar MöndurRked dkar mon dur was considered inauspicious and would disorient drivers and even cause accidents on the main road. It is said to have been blown up for this reason. In the region such sites are generally associated with the ancient MönMon. In TsakhaTshwa kha and northern GegyéDge rgyas, however, oral traditions around archaic archaeological sites are not well developed. This may be the case because the present pastoral residents of these regions are of relatively recent origin (they began to arrive less than 350 years ago).

Site elements

Appended edifice

By 2001, the temple-tomb had been reduced to a flattened tumulus 50 cm to 60 cm in height. This structure approximately measured 4 m (north-south) by 3.6 m (east-west). The temple-tomb was built on a natural 1.5 m rise in the plain. No coherent wall fragments were visible. In a 15 m radius around the temple-tomb there were scattered stones that must have once been part of it. In the middle of the tumulus there was a shallow depression corresponding to the location of the central chamber.

Pillar array

The field of standing stones was aligned in the cardinal directions. Around 100 mostly broken pillars were still in situ in 2001, no more than 25 percent of the total number that once stood at the site. The rectangular array measured at least 31 m (east-west) by 8 m (north-south). There was a gap of 8 m between the most westerly standing stones and the appended edifice, indicating that the array was originally longer east to west (the pillars in this typology usually come close to the appended edifice). The ground of the west half of the array slightly inclines towards the erstwhile remains of the appended temple-tomb. Most of the intact pillars were found on the east side of the array. The tallest specimens reached 40 cm to 50 cm in height. These uncut stones tended to have four irregular faces. The rows of pillars were spaced 55 cm to 1 m apart, and the individual pillars in a row 65 cm to 1 m apart. This spacing, however, may not have reflected the original distribution of standing stones (it could have been somewhat denser).

The array was enclosed on its three outer sides by a double-course slab wall. These walls were composed of light-colored calcareous stones (15 cm to 20 cm long) laid 15 cm to 20 cm apart in parallel courses. The upright stones of the enclosing walls were flush with the ground surface or rose above it slightly. In 2001, the south perimeter wall was largely intact, less than 50 percent of the north wall was extant, and the east wall was highly fragmentary. The dissolute east wall contained one standing stone within its courses. Running parallel to the east wall of the array there appears to have been four more slab walls extending a maximum of 4 m to its east. Only small portions of these double-course slab walls were still intact in 2001. The western-most of the four slab walls contained three standing stones within its courses. This wall was around 30 cm in thickness. The two outermost slab walls on the east side of the pillar array appear to have consisted of just a single-line of stones, but by the time of the survey there was little structural evidence left to go by.

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Note Citation for Page

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

Bibliographic Citation

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