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

Nara MöndurSna ra mon dur

Basic site data

  • Site name: Nara MöndurSna ra mon dur
  • English equivalent: Prow Expanse MönMon Tombs
  • Site number: D-72
  • Site typology: II.2a, II.2b, II.2c, II.2d
  • Elevation: 4670 m
  • Administrative location (township): DazhungZla gzhung
  • Administrative location (county): TsochenMtsho chen
  • Survey expedition: HTCE
  • Survey date: June 19 and June 20, 2002
  • Contemporary usage: Light grazing.
  • Identifiable Buddhist constructions: None.
  • Maps: UTRS VII
  • View Place Dictionary Entry
  • View Sites Images

General site characteristics

Nara MöndurSna ra mon dur is located east of Kyidbuk DoSkyid sbug do (sp.?), a small lake in the Dawa TsoZla ba mtsho (Moon Lake) basin. The site is situated on the east margin of the Dawa TsoZla ba mtsho basin. Views to the south and east are open, less so in other directions. The terrain is level, well drained, sandy, and studded with many boulders and rocks. There is a drokpa’brog pa permanent settlement (zhimagzhi ma) in the proximity. There are more than 20 widely distributed funerary structures at Nara MöndurSna ra mon dur. They are well camouflaged among naturally occurring rocks and boulders, which has probably contributed to the site being untouched in recent years. The structures are made of uncut pieces of white granite and a dark gray metamorphic rock. They represent a rich variety of designs and methods of construction. Among the most unusual funerary structures at Nara MöndurSna ra mon dur are those with a pillar erected inside the perimeter walls (Funerary structures FS3 and FS4). The sandy substrate of the site has significantly contributed to the deterioration of the funerary structures. Given the nature of the terrain, some funerary structures may have been overlooked during the survey.

Oral tradition

According to local sources, Nara MöndurSna ra mon dur was constructed by the ancient MönMon.

Site elements

Funerary Structure FS1

Funerary structure FS1 (7 m across) is a highly degraded tumulus elevated about 70 cm above the surrounding terrain. No coherent wall fragments in this structure have survived.

Funerary Structure FS2

Funerary structure FS2 (10.8 m by 5.6 m) is a sub-rectangular double-course enclosure. The perimeter walls (50 cm to 70 cm thick) are composed of stones up to 50 cm in length. Many of these upright stones project as much as 25 cm above ground level. The enclosure is divided into two parts: a smaller east cell and the larger west cell. Inside the west cell, near its west end, there is a single-course inner enclosure or cist marker (60 cm by 1.1 m). The upright stones of this structure prominently protrude from the ground. The largest stone in the inner enclosure is located in the east wall; 50 cm long and rising 30 cm above the ground surface.

Funerary Structure FS3

Funerary structure FS3 (3.5 m by 5 m) appears to be an ovoid enclosure but there are no coherent in situ wall fragments remaining (16.548΄ / 07.107΄). The entire structure is somewhat elevated above the surrounding terrain. The stones along the perimeter reach 50 cm in length. Near the west side of FS3 there is a four-sided gray pillar (45 cm [height] by 70 cm [basal girth]). The relative placement of the pillar mimics those belonging to the enclosed pillar typology (II.2b). The erection of a pillar on such a structure is extremely notable and highly unusual. The functional and temporal features of this design trait have yet to be determined.

Funerary Structure FS4

Funerary structure FS4 (6.4 m by 4.4 m) is of the same design and construction as FS3 (16.740΄ / 07.283΄). The entire structure is somewhat elevated above the surrounding terrain. No coherent wall segments have survived. Near the west end of FS4 there is an irregularly shaped dark gray pillar (55 cm by 60 cm). Beside this pillar there is what appears to be an uprooted specimen 90 cm in length.

Funerary Structure FS5

Funerary structure FS5 (1.3 m by 1.7 m) is situated 13.7 m northwest of FS4 (16.750΄ / 07.277΄). This small rectangular, single-course enclosure is composed of large stones (up to 65 cm long), which protrude prominently from the ground (up to a height of 25 cm).

Funerary Structure FS6

Funerary structure FS6 (4.3 m by 4 m) is situated 30 m west of FS5 (16.751΄ / 07.259΄). This highly fragmentary enclosure is slightly elevated above the surrounding ground level. It does not exhibit any coherent wall segments.

Funerary Structure FS7

Funerary structure FS7 (4.7 m by 4.8 m) is in close proximity to FS6 and is the same type of structure (16.763΄ / 07.257΄). FS7 is also in very poor condition.

Funerary Structure FS8

Funerary structure FS8 (24 m by 15 m) belongs to the heaped-stone wall enclosure typology (16.014΄ 07.175΄). The walls of this sub-rectangular structure consist of amorphous swaths of stones up to 2 m in thickness and 50 cm in height. FS8 is subdivided into two cells.

Funerary Structure FS9

Funerary structure FS9 (10 m by 12.4 m) is situated 13 m southeast of FS8 (16.003΄ / 07.192΄). This heaped-stone wall enclosure is of the same design and construction as FS8. In the proximity there appear to be the vestiges of analogous structures.

Funerary Structure FS10

Funerary structure FS10 (5.6 m by 5.7 m) is situated 29 m north of FS8 (16.036΄ / 07.182΄). Small segments of double-course walls of this enclosure are in situ. These walls are 50 cm to 60 cm thick and composed of upright stones that project as much as 35 cm above ground level.

Funerary Structure FS11

Funerary structure FS11 (8.2 m by 5.6 m) is a sub-rectangular enclosure with amorphous perimeter walls (16.078΄ / 07.121΄). The stones of the enclosing walls stand upright or are flush with the surface. These stones project as much as 20 cm above the ground surface. In the east wall there are two stones (40 cm and 50 cm long) that are set perpendicular to the wall course, creating a kind of portal (as is found in certain enclosures of the II.1b typology). In the vicinity there are other analogous structures that were not individually surveyed. While these structures appear to be funerary in function, the high level of structural degradation (hastened by the sandy substrate) makes their identification difficult.

Funerary Structure FS12

Funerary structure FS12 (11.3 m by 7.3 m) is another enclosure with a distinct perimeter but without clearly defined walls (16.065΄ / 07.064΄).

Funerary Structure FS13

Funerary structure FS13 (9.8 m by 15.4 m) is a highly degraded enclosure divided into two cells (16.042΄ / 07.060΄). It is elevated a maximum of 70 cm on its down slope/west side in order to maintain a level interior.

Funerary Structure FS14

Funerary structure FS14 (7 m by 6 m) is an incomplete enclosure similar in design to FS13 (16.035΄ / 07. 058΄).

Funerary Structure FS15

Funerary structure FS15 (5.1 m by 5.7 m) is double-course enclosure (16.031΄ / 07.058΄). A small wall remnant has endured. It is composed of stones up to 60 cm in length that project as much as 40 cm above ground level.

Funerary Structure FS16

Funerary structure FS16 (11.5 m by 10.6 m) is another sub-rectangular enclosure with amorphous walls up to 1 m thick (16.072΄ / 07.056΄).

Funerary Structure FS17

Funerary structure FS17 (4.5 m by 2.2 m) is a slightly elevated sub-rectangular enclosure, which appears to have been generally aligned in the cardinal directions (16.380΄ / 07.089΄). Loose stones are scattered across this highly degraded structure.

Funerary Structure FS18

Funerary structure FS18 consists of 3 double-course slab-wall segments (16.389΄ / 07.102΄). These walls (2.5 m to 3.5 m long) are around 15 cm thick and are composed of upright slabs 10 cm to 25 cm in length. It is not clear what type of funerary structure they comprised.

Funerary Structure FS19

Funerary structure FS19 (4.8 m by 4.8 m) is a relatively intact, double-course enclosure (16.667΄ / 07.096΄). The walls (around 50 cm thick) are composed of upright variable-length (up to 50 cm long) stones, which project as much as 35 cm above the ground surface.

Funerary Structure FS20

Funerary structure FS20 (3 m across) is a highly deteriorated enclosure (07.279΄ / 16.679΄).


Note Citation for Page

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

Bibliographic Citation

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