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

Dziden Chungwa MöndurBrdzi gdan chung ba mon dur

Basic site data

  • Site name: Dziden Chungwa MöndurBrdzi gdan chung ba mon dur
  • English equivalent: Lesser Scent Block MönMon Tombs
  • Site number: D-43
  • Site typology: II.2a, II2b
  • Elevation: 4500 m to 4630 m.
  • Administrative location (township): Götsang MéRgod tshang smad
  • Administrative location (county): GarSgar
  • Survey expedition: UTAE and THE
  • Survey date: May 17, 2001 and May 25, 2006
  • Contemporary usage: Light grazing. Stones have been recently extracted from the monuments to use in local building projects.
  • Identifiable Buddhist constructions: None.
  • Maps: UTRS V
  • View Place Dictionary Entry
  • View Sites Images

General site characteristics

The funerary superstructures of Dziden Chungwa MöndurBrdzi gdan chung ba mon dur are widely scattered across a large flat above the left bank of the Tritso TsangpoKhri tsho gtsang po (a tributary of the Senggé TsangpoSeng ge gtsang po). These plain and adjoining elevated areas are known as DzidenBrdzi gdan. Funerary structures FS1 to FS8 are located near a ridge that encloses the west side of DzidenBrdzi gdan. The structures of Dziden Chungwa MöndurBrdzi gdan chung ba mon dur were constructed from variable-length (15 cm to 80 cm) blocks and slabs of a tan, dark-grained rock. There are also other superstructures in more outlying locations (Dopo TagaRdo po rta sga and Mönnak DzongMon nag rdzong) that are subsumed under this catalogue entry. The enclosures of this composite site have quadrate and sub-rectangular forms. As a monumental counterpoint to these various funerary structures, there are a number of archaic residential loci in the TritsoKhri tsho basin and the adjoining Pangar ZhungDpa’ ngar gzhung basin (see A-31, A-32, A-137, A-138, B-135).

Oral tradition

It is understood by local shepherds that the structures of Dziden Chungwa MöndurBrdzi gdan chung ba mon dur are tombs. It is reported that human remains have been unearthed here during excavations. The tombs are believed to hold the remains of the MönMon, an ancient tribe of Upper Tibet.

Site elements

Dziden Chungwa MöndurBrdzi gdan chung ba mon dur
Funerary Structure FS1

Funerary structure FS1 has been reduced to a 1 m deep pit that is 8.5 m in diameter. In recent years local drokpa’brog pa have removed most stones from the monument for local building projects and in the search for valuable artifacts. Only one coherent wall fragment (3.5 m long by 60 cm thick) remains. It is situated on the east side of the pit and was built with smaller stones. This wall fragment indicates that the superstructure of FS1 consisted of a quadrate enclosure.

Funerary Structure FS2

Funerary structure FS2 is situated approximately 2 km north of FS1. It was built on level, sandy ground near the foot of a range of hills. FS2 measures 14.2 m (north-south) by 9.1 m (east-west), but it is not very well aligned in the cardinal directions. The structure is slightly elevated above the surrounding plain, on its downhill flank. The walls of the quadrate enclosure are double-course (60 cm to 1 m thick) and built mostly with larger blocks and slabs (50 cm to 1.1 m long). Some of the stones of the walls are flush with the ground surface, but many project prominently above it to a maximum height of 40 cm. The enclosure appears to have been divided into two unequal parts by an east-west running wall. There may have been other walls further subdividing the enclosure but not enough is intact to know for certain. Parts of all four perimeter walls are missing due to the predations of the local population. Stones have been recently extracted in order to build a corral.

Funerary Structure FS3

Funerary structure FS3 is located south of FS2 in close proximity. Only poorly preserved vestiges of the enclosure (approximately 13 m by 4.7 m) are left. An integral wall fragment (4.7 m long by 80 cm thick) of the enclosure has endured. This double-course wall fragment is primarily made up of blocky stones around 20 cm in length, which are flush with the ground surface or protrude above it to a height of 30 cm. On the west side of the structure there are the remains of a smaller enclosure (1.8 m by 1.1 m) that is liable to have had a funerary ritual function. It is also made of smaller stones that are flush with the ground surface or that are slightly raised above it. This ancillary structure appears to have had double-course perimeter walls.

Funerary Structure FS4

Funerary structure FS4 appears to have been roughly aligned in the compass points. This highly fragmentary structure may have been around 9 m long (north-south). An east-west wall fragment (5.8 m long) connects to a lesser wall fragment (3.2 m long) to create an L-shaped remnant. These double-course walls are around 60 cm thick. The stones of the walls are flush with the ground level or rise above it to a maximum height of 30 cm.

Funerary Structures FS5, FS6 and FS7

Funerary structures FS5, FS6 and FS7 (4610 m) form a compact northwest-southwest running row of structures situated at slightly lower elevation than their counterparts to the north. They are likely to represent an integrated funerary unit. The three enclosures were built with stones (20 cm to 50 cm long) that project 10 cm to 30 cm above the ground surface.

Funerary structure FS5 is a small quadrate structure (2.1 m by 2.2 m), which is generally aligned in the cardinal directions. The perimeter of the structure is elevated about 20 cm above the surrounding plain. Many small pieces of blue-gray limestone are found strewn on top. This limestone residuum must have formed a structural element of FS5. Funerary structure FS6 (4 m by 4 m) does not appear to be aligned in the cardinal directions. The entire structure is elevated about 50 cm above the surrounding terrain. It is mostly composed of smaller stones, however, its perimeter walls have been largely destroyed. Funerary structure FS7 is roughly aligned in the compass points and measures 5 m (east-west) by 6.9 m (north-south). These dimensions represent what may have been just the west cell of the structure. There may also have been a contiguous east cell but the structural evidence is inconclusive. The three partially intact perimeter walls are 80 cm to 90 cm in thickness, and contain mostly blocky stones (20 cm to 50 cm long). In the north wall there are sections made up of two vertical courses of blocks laid flat. These walls reach a maximum height of 30 cm above ground level.

Funerary Structure FS8

Funerary structure FS8 (1.7 m by 1.1 m / 4610 m) is the smallest structure surveyed at Dziden Chungwa MöndurBrdzi gdan chung ba mon dur. It is roughly aligned in the cardinal directions and is mostly composed of smaller stones. The perimeter walls are only partly intact. FS8 is elevated about 20 cm above the circumjacent plain.

Funerary Structure FS9

Funerary structure FS9 (approximately 11.5 m by 7 m) is found near a hill enclosing the east side of DzidenBrdzi gdan. Situated on a slightly sloping sandy plain, only small coherent wall segments of the enclosure are still intact.

Dopo TagaRdo po rta sga

There are two more enclosures at a location known as Dopo TagaRdo po rta sga (Rocky Horse Saddle). The more intact specimen (approximately 8 m by 6.5 m) was recently excavated. This structure is elevated 70 cm above the surrounding terrain, giving it the appearance of a funerary mound (bangsobang so). Its enclosing walls were constructed from smaller blocky stones. In close proximity there is another highly fragmentary möndurmon dur with little evidence remaining as to its form of construction.

Mönnak DzongMon nag rdzong

Mönnak DzongMon nag rdzong (Black MönMon Fortress) is comprised of two enclosures that integrate large boulders in their walls. They were built on hard, gently sloping ground east of Dziden ChungwaBrdzi gdan chung ba. Funerary structure FS1 has been reduced to a 3.5 m line of five boulders and dispersed stones of the superstructure. Funerary structure FS2 (approximately 6 m by 6 m) is situated 45 m north of FS1. Along its perimeter (which is quite closely aligned in the cardinal directions) there are now 14 boulders, less than half the amount needed to fully enclose the space. It would appear that smaller stones dispersed around the vicinity were also originally part of the perimeter walls. The largest boulder has a cubic form, and measures 60 cm across and projects 75 cm above ground level.


Note Citation for Page

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

Bibliographic Citation

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