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

SangkharBsang mkhar

Basic site data

  • Site name: SangkharBsang mkhar
  • English equivalent: Incense Brazier
  • Site number: D-86
  • Site typology: II.2b
  • Elevation: 4720 m and 4730 m
  • Administrative location (township):
  • Administrative location (county): PelgönDpal mgon
  • Survey expedition: HTCE
  • Survey date: September 29, 2002
  • Contemporary usage: Light grazing.
  • Identifiable Buddhist constructions: None.
  • Maps: UTRS IX
  • View Place Dictionary Entry
  • View Sites Images

General site characteristics

SangkharBsang mkhar is located in the proximity of Sangkhar LaBsang mkhar la, a saddle on the north side of a valley that runs into the east side of Gomang TsoSgo mang mtsho.209 The Sangkhar LaBsang mkhar la forms a more direct route along the valley to and from Gomang TsoSgo mang mtsho. The seven funerary enclosures of SangkharBsang mkhar are quite widely dispersed across a gently sloping grassy flat, in an east-west line. Although they do not appear to have been tampered with in recent times, these structures have suffered much degradation. They appear to have had both crudely built, double-course perimeter walls and those without any particular design or arrangement. All of these structures are built of uncut pieces of white granite of variable length.

Oral tradition

None was collected.

Site elements

Funerary Structure FS1

Funerary structure FS1 (8.8 m by 8.5 m) is a somewhat irregularly shaped enclosure with highly degraded perimeter walls. These walls (60 cm to 1 m thick) are of indeterminate design and construction. Variable length pieces of granite (15 cm to 85 cm) went into the construction of FS1. The stones of the enclosure are generally flush with the surface or project above it to a height of 15 cm. There is one large stone in the east side of the enclosure that protrudes 40 cm from the ground surface. FS1 is partially subdivided into two cells by the traces of a wall.

Funerary Structure FS2

Funerary structure FS2 (4.5 m by 5 m) is an ovoid enclosure built on a sandy slope with around a 10° gradient. The perimeter walls are composed of stones 15 cm to 85 cm in length with no set order.

Funerary Structure FS3

Funerary structure FS3 (8.9 m by 6.5 m) is situated 22 m southwest of FS2. This ovoid enclosure is missing the east wall. Its perimeter walls do not exhibit a coherent design or arrangement. These walls are composed of stones (15 cm to 65 cm long) that are flush with the surface or which project above it to a maximum height of 40 cm.

Funerary Structure FS4

Funerary structure FS4 is situated 46 m southwest of FS3. Only a small downhill/south portion of this enclosure has survived. The extant portion includes a wall of indeterminate construction 13 m in length.

Funerary Structure FS5

Funerary structure FS5 is situated 127 m west of FS4. This fragmentary quadrate enclosure includes a double-course wall (60 cm thick) segment, 4 m in length. This wall is composed of stones up to 80 cm in length flush with the ground surface or elevated above it to a maximum height of 30 cm.

Funerary Structure FS6

Funerary structure FS6 (13 m by 17 m) is situated 30 m west of FS5. This large rectangular enclosure was built in three tiers, each of which is partially demarcated by walls. There is an approximately 3 m vertical difference between the high and low ends of FS6. The entire structure is elevated about 1 m above the surrounding slopes. Small double-course wall (around 60 cm thick) fragments are still in situ. Other wall sections may possibly have only consisted of heaped stones. The perimeter walls of FS6 are comprised of stones 20 cm to 80 cm in length.

Funerary Structure FS7

Funerary structure FS7 (7.5 m by 4 m) is situated 40 m west of FS6. This ovoid enclosure is not entirely complete. The perimeter walls do not exhibit a coherent form and were constructed with many larger stones, which protrude as much as 40 cm above the ground surface.


[209] SangkharBsang mkhar was discovered by the Roerich Central Asian Expedition (RCAE) on March 23, 1928. George Roerich (Roerich, Trails to Inmost Asia, 416, 417) reports that his father Nicholas found several graves near their camp, which was in a side glen known as Ratri. These graves are described as being enclosed by stones arranged in a square. The graves are said to be laid out east-west. The Roerich account also states that a large boulder stood on the eastern extremity of these graves. He hypothesized that the heads of the corpse pointed east. Roerich believed that these graves probably date to the Neolithic, and that they were chronologically related to the megalithic monuments of the region. Ratri is stated to be 22 miles southwest of the megalithic site of Do-ring. On March 24, the RCAE traveled around the north side of Gomang TsoSgo mang mtsho (Roerich, Trails to Inmost Asia, 418). Ratri is described by Roerich as a locale with granite slopes. Ratri can be confidentially identified with ratraRa gra (sp.?) (31° 19.1΄ N. long. / 89° 15.1΄ E. long. / 4680 m), a location approximately 2 km downstream of SangkharBsang mkhar (this general area is dominated by granite formations). Inquiries with local drokpa’brog pa revealed that there is no other place in the Gomang TsoSgo mang mtsho basin with a name that is phonetically similar to “Ratri.” It was also determined that there were no funerary structures in ratraRa gra proper. Roerich’s Do-ring has been pinpointed as DoringRdo ring South (31° 22.7 N. lat. / 89° 26.0 E. long.), situated 25 km (as the crow flies) northeast of ratraRa gra (see C-162). It should be noted that the distance given by Roerich between these two points represents the ground covered by the RCAE overland through rugged mountainous terrain. While the funerary structures (they also could have ritual functions aside from burial) of ratraRa gra do not securely date to the Neolithic, they do certainly belong to the archaic cultural horizon of Upper Tibet. It should also be observed that only FS1 possibly has a large headstone on the east side of the structure. For more details about Roerich’s archaeological discoveries, see C-37.

Note Citation for Page

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

Bibliographic Citation

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