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

Dowa SumpaRdo ba gsum pa

Basic site data

  • Site name: Dowa SumpaRdo ba gsum pa
  • English equivalent: The Three Stones
  • Site number: C-40
  • Site typology: II.1a
  • Elevation: 3890 m
  • Administrative location (township): TridéKhri sde
  • Administrative location (county): PurangSpu rang
  • Survey expedition: HTAE
  • Survey date: October 20, 2003
  • Contemporary usage: Light grazing.
  • Identifiable Buddhist constructions: None.
  • Maps: UTRS X, HAS C4
  • View Place Dictionary Entry
  • View Sites Images

General site characteristics

Dowa SumpaRdo ba gsum pa is located near the border of the village amalgamations of TridéKhri sde and ZhidéZhi bde. This uninhabited area is known as Burtsé Dok’Bur rtse dog (Hill Peak Earth). The three standing pillars of Dowa SumpaRdo ba gsum pa are found on a shelf that rises above the right bank of the Maja TsangpoRma bya gtsang po. The pillars are firmly planted, not far from the foot of the ridgeline that encloses the west side of the Purang MéSpu rang smad valley. The views from the site are quite open in all directions. The terrain slopes gently down towards the river and is covered in cobbles, which is consistent with the aftermath of a flood event. If there ever was an enclosure around the pillars, it was destroyed by such flooding. The three pillars form an uneven north-south row and are nearly equidistant to one another. All three pillars are made of a soft gray calcareous stone. The pillars are covered in a red encrustation, the result of geochemical processes.187

Oral tradition

Local villagers consider Dowa Sumpardo ba gsum pa to be an ancient monument. According to a local myth, the three standing pillars are the sons of the prostrate pillar, their mother. They are said to have sprung up after her death.

Site elements

From north to south, the three pillars have the following dimensions and characteristics:

  1. Long-stone DR1: four-sided (1.4 m [height] by 1 m [basal girth]).
  2. Long-stone DR2: four-sided (1 m by 1.1 m). DR2 is situated 3.2 m south of DR1.
  3. Long-stone DR3: tabular, its broad sides face east and west (1.3 m by 1.3 m). DR3 is situated 3.5 m south of DR2. Next to DR3 there is a collapsed specimen 1.6 m in length (a portion of this pillar is submerged in the ground so it could be somewhat longer than the figure provided here).


[187] Perhaps the Dowa SumpaRdo ba gsum pa pillars acted as inspiration for the creation of the famous tabular stele in ZhidéZhi bde. This stele has a lovely bas relief image of Pakpa Chenrezik’Phags pa spyan ras gzigs on one of its broad sides, and on its two narrow sides there are inscriptions celebrating the cult of this deity. This stele was probably made in the 10th century CE as part of the definitive conversion of the region to Buddhism.

Note Citation for Page

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

Bibliographic Citation

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