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

Gyatengbur DoringRgya steng ’bur rdo ring

Basic site data

  • Site name: Gyatengbur DoringRgya steng ’bur rdo ring
  • English equivalent: Wide High Rise Long-stones
  • Site number: C-111
  • Site typology: II.1b
  • Elevation: 4630 m and 4640 m
  • Administrative location (township): BargaBar ga
  • Administrative location (county): PurangSpu rang
  • Survey expedition: HTCE
  • Survey date: May 7, 2002
  • Contemporary usage: Light grazing.
  • Identifiable Buddhist constructions: None.
  • Maps: UTRS X, HAS C4
  • View Place Dictionary Entry
  • View Sites Images

General site characteristics

Gyatengbur DoringRgya steng ’bur rdo ring is located in the middle of a large basin that abuts the west side of Langa TsoLa lnga mtsho. At this location there are two enclosed pillar complexes separated by approximately 1 km. The red mountain with a fierce reputation, Jomo RirangJo mo ri rang (see A-54, B-23, B-24), is visible 15 km to the northwest. The sandy and grassy terrain at both complexes is almost level. The large highly weathered pillars are mostly tan in color, but also grayish and reddish. There are no suitable rocks to use as pillars in the vicinity of Gyatengbur DoringRgya steng ’bur rdo ring.

Oral tradition

According to local drokpa’brog pa of ZhungsaGzhung sa, the pillars of Gyatengbur DoringRgya steng ’bur rdo ring magically sprang up in primordial times. Some local sources believe that the stones used for the pillars must have come from the mountain Rübel MukpoRus sbal smug po, located about 10 km to the northeast (see C-124, E-27). This is where the parent rock is supposed to be located. It would have required significant manpower and organization to transport the large pillars to their present location.

Site elements

Gyatengbur DoringRgya steng ’bur rdo ring West

Gyatengbur DoringRgya steng ’bur rdo ring West has a far-reaching eastern vista, while the views west are completely cut off by a low-lying ridge (30° 43.065΄ N. lat. / 81° 01.045΄ E. long. / 4630 m). The south and east walls of the enclosure are partly intact, but no coherent wall segments remain. The north and west walls of the enclosure are now completely absent. The enclosure appears to have been aligned in the cardinal directions and appears to measure 12 m (east-west) by 14 m (north-south). An enclosure with longer north-south dimensions also occurs at Chupuk DoringChu phug rdo ring (C-62). This appears to be a regional variation in the proportions of enclosures limited almost exclusively to far western Tibet. The walls of the enclosure are composed of unhewn stones primarily 10 cm to 25 cm in length, which are flush with the ground surface.


There are four in situ pillars and two dislodged specimens in Gyatengbur DoringRgya steng ’bur rdo ring West. They were erected near what must have been the west wall of the enclosure. From south to north, they have the following dimensions and characteristics:

  1. Long-stone DR1: four-sided, well formed (1.7 m [height] by 1.4 m [basal girth]).
  2. Long-stone DR2: tabular, severely inclined (2.4 m by 1.6 m). The broad sides of this pillar face north and south. There is a counterclockwise swastika (5 cm high) carved on the south face of DR2, 70 cm above ground level. There are also nondescript motifs carved on the south face of DR2. These carvings are of considerable age as evidenced by the degree of repatination they have undergone.
  3. Long-stone DR3: four-sided (1.4 m by 1.1 m).
  4. Long-stone DR4: four-sided, broken (40 cm by 80 cm). There are also two fallen and partly submerged specimens, 1.3 m and 1.2 m long.
  5. The faint remains of what may be a funerary enclosure are situated 80 m west of the pillars on a moderately inclined slope. Given the sandy terrain, it is certainly possible that other superficial funerary structures at the site have either disappeared from view or have completely disintegrated.
Gyatengbur DoringRgya steng ’bur rdo ring East

Gyatengbur DoringRgya steng ’bur rdo ring East has long views in both the east and west directions (42. 964΄ / 01.367΄ / 4640 m). The enclosure is not well aligned in the cardinal directions and measures approximately 10 m (east-west) by 11 m (north-south). The east wall of the enclosure has been entirely destroyed. The longest surviving coherent wall fragment (2.4 m long, 50 cm thick) is found in the north wall of the enclosure. This double-course wall segment is composed of variable-length (15 cm to 40 cm long) blocky stones, which are mostly flush with the ground surface. There are tiny coherent wall fragments in the west and south walls of the enclosure as well. Different types of rocks (white, gray and tan) were used to build the enclosures.


Five inclined pillars of Gyatengbur DoringRgya steng ’bur rdo ring East are clustered near the southwest side of the enclosure. The broad sides of the pillars are roughly oriented south and north. A sixth pillar was planted near the northwest side of the enclosure. From south to north, the dimensions and characteristics of the pillars are as follows:

  1. Long-stone DR1: tabular (1.9 m by 1.2 m). The Tibetan letters mama and chacha were carved several times on the broad north side of DR1. The erosion and repatination of these letters indicates that they are of substantial age.
  2. Long-stone DR2: tabular (1.7 m by 70 cm).
  3. Long-stone DR3: tabular (2.3 m by 1.3 m).
  4. Long-stone DR4: irregularly shaped (1.6 m by 1.3 m).
  5. Long-stone DR5: irregularly shaped (2 m by 1.1 m).
  6. Long-stone DR6: irregularly shaped, an isolated (northwest) specimen (1.6 m by 1.5 m). There is also a dislodged broken specimen a total of 1 m in length.

Affiliated sites

There are also two pillars at a summer encampment (yarsadbyar sa) known as Mamogya DoringMa mo rgya lhas rdo ring (30° 42.052΄ N. lat. / 81° 02.415΄ E. long. / 4650 m). These pillars are found on a gravel bench situated between two tent enclosures (nangranang ra). The local oral tradition affirming that the two standing stones of Mamogya DoringMa mo rgya lhas rdo ring are ancient is corroborated by their highly eroded appearance. The pillars are spaced 2.3 m apart. The tabular east specimen measures 1.7 m (height) by 1.6 m (basal girth). The west specimen is irregularly shaped and measures 1.5 m by 1.1 m. On the east side of the east pillar the six syllable manima ṇi mantra was carved a long time ago. It is reported that many stones used to be found in the vicinity of the pillars, but in the last 25 or 35 years they were removed in order to build pastoral facilities. It must be questioned whether the pillars of Mamogya DoringMa mo rgya lhas rdo ring were originally installed at this location. Their aspect and the local topography seem somewhat out of place with the creation of such monuments.


Note Citation for Page

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

Bibliographic Citation

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