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. Archaic Ceremonial Monuments

II.1. Stelae and accompanying structures: Funerary and non-funerary structures

One of the most captivating types of archaic archaeological site in Upper Tibet consists of stelae, pillars or menhirs either in a solitary aspect or in groups forming special kinds of arrays. In this work, descriptions of 110 sites featuring pillars are presented. The Tibetan generic term doringrdo ring is applied to pillars of all species in Upper Tibet. These standing stones vary greatly in size (15 cm to 2.4 m in height) number and layout, which is indicative of a fairly broad variety of ritual applications and cultural contexts. As with the dokhangrdo khang residential monument, pillars without inscriptions reached their highest level of development on the Plateau in Upper Tibet. Pillars exhibiting different morphological characteristics were erected hewn or unhewn, and were made from a diverse assortment of rocks (including igneous, volcanic, metamorphic, and sedimentary). Pillars, whatever their function, were planted firmly in the ground by first excavating a hole to accommodate 30% to 50% of the total length of the stone. Over the centuries, through the agency of gravity and geomorphologic change, it is common for pillars to have collapsed or to tilt in a downhill direction. Gently and even radically inclined pillars are encountered at many sites. Pillars in the Upper Tibetan archaic archaeological context appear to have functioned as political monuments for clans and chieftains, cultic sites for the worship of deities, good fortune enhancement and harm reduction instruments, and as memorials and ritual dispensation sites marking cemeteries.


Note Citation for Page

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

Bibliographic Citation

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