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.2. Superficial structures: Primarily funerary superstructure

Nyerma Gyam MöndoGnyer ma gyam mon rdo

Basic site data

  • Site name: Nyerma Gyam MöndoGnyer ma gyam mon rdo
  • English equivalent: Furrowed Cliff Shelter MönMon Stones
  • Site number: D-60
  • Site typology: II.2x
  • Elevation: 5010 m to 5090 m
  • Administrative location (township): HorchuHor chus
  • Administrative location (county): PurangSpu rang
  • Survey expedition: HTCE
  • Survey date: April 30, 2002
  • Contemporary usage: Light grazing.
  • Identifiable Buddhist constructions: Six manima ṇi walls.
  • Maps: UTRS X
  • View Place Dictionary Entry
  • View Sites Images

General site characteristics

Nyerma Gyam MöndoGnyer ma gyam mon rdo, a site of ambiguous identity, is named for various cuts along its slopes, which are said to resemble the wrinkles on a forehead. The Nyerma GyamGnyer ma gyam ridge overlooks the north side of Gunggyü TsoGung rgyud mtsho. The site consists of a series of manima ṇi walls, two of which appear to be modified funerary structures. These six manima ṇi walls sit on three dark-colored rock outcrops situated at different elevations. The inscribed plaques are all of considerable age. Although these structures are included among superficial structures (II.2) for the purposes of this catalogue, they may be better classified under type II.3 monuments (cubic tombs). Positive identification, however, is still pending. Indications that the manima ṇi walls of Nyerma Gyam MöndoGnyer ma gyam mon rdo, may in some cases, be modified cubic tombs include:

  1. Their persistent attribution among local sources to the ancient MönMon.
  2. The resemblance of two of the structures to mountaintop cubic tombs.
  3. Their location on the top of lofty rock outcrops.

Indeed, there seems to be little cause for building manima ṇi walls on ridgelines without compelling circumstances. It may be that they were designed to subdue or recast archaic monuments in a Buddhist light. It must be remembered that the site is within the ambit of the Gangritso SumGangs ri mtsho gsum, a region of exceptional importance to Tibetan Buddhism. This strong Buddhist territorial association may have acted as the motivation for the rebuilding of earlier remains. Cubic mountaintop tombs that were modified into Buddhist manima ṇi monuments are encountered at GomkhorSgom ’khor (E-15).

Oral tradition

According to various drokpa’brog pa of the Gunggyü TsoGung rgyud mtsho region, the remains at Nyerma Gyam MöndoGnyer ma gyam mon rdo were founded by the ancient MönMon.

Site elements

The highest elevation manima ṇi wall at Nyerma Gyam MöndoGnyer ma gyam mon rdo is the specimen that most resembles a cubic tomb (30° 39.971΄ N. lat. / 82° 12.196΄ E. long. / 5090 m). This structure (1.6 m by 1.6 m by 1.2 m) is built in the fashion of tombs with random-rubble walls composed of thin blocks. Plaques inscribed with the manima ṇi mantra have been laid on top of the structure. From this point on the ridge there are long views to the east. On the same outcrop, directly below this structure, there are three other walls with manima ṇi plaques: two small round walls and a small quadrate platform. On a lower outcrop there is another manima ṇi wall. On the lowest outcrop of the site there is another manima ṇi wall that somewhat resembles a cubic tomb (39.776΄ / 12.149΄ / 5010m).


Note Citation for Page

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

Bibliographic Citation

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