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

Name unknown

Basic site data

  • Site name: Name unknown
  • Site number: D-67
  • Site typology: II.2b, II.2d
  • Elevation: 4570 m and 4580 m
  • Administrative location (township): RawangRa bang
  • Administrative location (county): RutokRu thog
  • Survey expedition: HTCE
  • Survey date: June 5, 2002
  • Contemporary usage: Light grazing.
  • Identifiable Buddhist constructions: manima ṇi walls.
  • Maps: UTRS I
  • View Place Dictionary Entry
  • View Sites Images

General site characteristics

Three or more funerary structures are located in the middle of a valley at a locale called ChushikChu shig (sp.?). The terrain is level, gravelly and sandy and with some turf. On either side of the main valley there are small side valleys, creating a four-way vista. This crossroads placement is liable to have had ritual and conceptual value for the builders of the site. Perhaps this kind of location facilitated the unencumbered release of the consciousness principles (soul and mind) during burial rites. The freeing of the consciousness principles from obstacles, which are often depicted in geographic terms, is a cornerstone of Tibetan archaic funerary practices.203 In the northwest sector of the unnamed site there are two mounds of the bangsobang so type. These structures have been very heavily impacted by human activity. Stones are scattered all around the vicinity in contrast to the surrounding clear ground. This suggests that the stones used to build the funerary structure were transported to their present location from the adjoining mountains.

Just off the road that runs through ChushikChu shig there are three manima ṇi walls hosting pre-modern inscribed plaques. Almost certainly they were constructed with stones pilfered from the nearby funerary structures. The erection of the manima ṇi walls is likely to be related to the Buddhist ritual subjugation of the old funerary site. The manima ṇi walls measure (not including the inscribed plaques) 4.6 m by 1.8 m by 70 cm, 3.4 m by 1.4 m by 90 cm, and 5.2 m by 1.6 m by 1.2 m. These dimensions provide an idea of the cubic volume of stones that was potentially removed from the funerary structures. A blue-gray metamorphic stone was used to build the bangsobang so and manima ṇi walls.

Oral tradition

None was collected.

Site elements

Funerary Structure FS1

Funerary structure FS1 (12 m by 14 m) is elevated 1 m to 2 m above the surrounding terrain. This highly eroded funerary mound does not appear to have been aligned in the cardinal directions. A shallow concavity has formed on the surface. A single line of variable-length (30 cm to 80 cm long) stones along the northeast rim of the structure are still in situ. There are also two small fragments of what are now single-course walls on the southwest rim. These various wall segments are primarily made of slabs that appear to have been laid flat. The three manima ṇi walls of the site are located 17.5 m northeast of FS1.

Funerary Structure FS2

Funerary structure FS2 (10.5 m by 6.5 m) is situated 18 m southwest of FS1. This structure is elevated 50 cm to 1 m above the surrounding terrain and is covered in loose stones. Small coherent wall fragments have survived on the southeast side of the mound. The slabs of the walls appear to have been laid flat. The three manima ṇi walls and FS1 and FS2 form a northwest-southeast oriented line of culturally disparate structures.

Funerary Structure FS3

Funerary structure FS3 is situated 150 m southeast of FS1 and FS2. It has been reduced to faint structural traces flush with the ground surface. Tiny fragments of double-course walls (around 60 cm thick) composed of stones laid flat have survived. The highly obscured vestiges of smaller walls are found 12 m west and northwest of FS3. There also may be structural traces to the north and northeast of FS3. A few meters away from FS3 and associated remains there are two more old manima ṇi walls (5.6 m by 2 m by 60 cm and 4.7 m by 1.6 m by 50 cm).204


[203] Bellezza, Zhang Zhung.
[204] Some kilometers further down the main valley, the entire valley floor was mined for gold. Around a 5 km length of the valley was completely destroyed. Needless to say, in this delicate high-altitude environment it will take centuries before the ecological integrity and pastoral value of the mined area is fully restored. This is one of dozens of open pit gold mines observed during the survey work. These mining operations were mainly carried out between 1998 and 2006. The open pit mines have decimated river valleys and pasturelands in areas as large as 30 km².

Note Citation for Page

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

Bibliographic Citation

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