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

Dorjé DzongRdo rje rdzong

Basic site data

  • Site name: Dorjé DzongRdo rje rdzong
  • English equivalent: Adamantine Fortress
  • Site number: D-93
  • Site typology: II.2a, II.2b
  • Elevation: 4650 m
  • Administrative location (township): RecoRe co
  • Administrative location (county): RutokRu thog
  • Survey expedition: HTAE
  • Survey date: October 4, 2003
  • Contemporary usage: Light grazing.
  • Identifiable Buddhist constructions: None.
  • Maps: UTRS I, HAS A1
  • View Place Dictionary Entry
  • View Sites Images

General site characteristics

Dorjé DzongRdo rje rdzong is located in an eponymous northern tributary valley of RecoRe co. The site is found on a bench on the east/left side of the valley, several kilometers up from the main RecoRe co valley. The funerary structures are in close proximity to a ravine in which runoff from seasonal rains flows. The foot of the enclosing east ridge forms the backdrop of the site. The well-drained terrain is level and sandy. Dorjé DzongRdo rje rdzong consists of elaborately built funerary structures, which exhibit unique design and construction traits. The various structures of Dorjé DzongRdo rje rdzong are made of uncut blocks of light-colored granite.

Oral tradition

Dorjé DzongRdo rje rdzong is named for the funerary structures found in the valley, which are thought to be the ruins of an ancient fortress. These remains are considered potentially hazardous (ka nyenpobka’ gnyan po).

Site elements

Funerary Structure FS1

Funerary structure FS1 (2 m by 3.6 m) is a small structure whose surface is covered in stones up to 1 m in length. These stones protrude a maximum of 50 cm above ground level. No pattern to the placement of the stones could be discerned.

Funerary Structure FS2

Funerary structure FS2 is situated 11 m west of FS1. It now appears to have an L-shaped form, but this is probably due to the disintegration of the structure. Originally, it is likely to have had a quadrate form. The two arms of FS3 are 2.4 m and 1.6 m in length and around 80 cm in width. This structure is elevated 20 cm to 50 cm above the surrounding terrain. In close proximity to FS2 there are the faint remains of another small funerary structure.

Funerary Structure FS3

Funerary structure FS3 (11m by 8 m) is situated 40 m north/up valley of FS2. This well-built double-course quadrate enclosure is made up of large stones (up to 1.2 m long), which prominently protrude (as much as 50 cm) above the ground surface. The robust perimeter walls are 80 cm to 1 m thick. The east wall of the enclosure is mostly flush with the ground level, while the other three walls are up to 50 cm in height due to the projection of stones embedded in the ground as well as the stacking of stones on top of one another.

Funerary Structure FS4

Funerary structure FS4, a uniquely designed structure, is situated 40 m north/up valley of FS3. FS4 consists of a line of seven large interconnected quadrate cells (they are not well aligned in the cardinal directions). The overall dimensions of FS4 are 74 m (north-south) by 7 m to 8.5 m (east to west). At 10 m, the seventh or most northerly cell (C1) is wider than the other six. The walls of these cells exhibit three major forms of construction: single-course, superficial double-course and double-course walls composed of as many as five vertical layers of stones (random-rubble texture). Some single-course walls are so heavily built as to be cyclopean in appearance. The single-course walls are one or more stones tall. There is no apparent pattern to the stacking of stones in the single-course walls.

From north to south, the seven cells of FS4 have the following characteristics:

  1. Cell C1 consists mainly of well-built double-course walls with stones set about 90 cm apart. These stones project as much as 60 cm from the surface. C1 is partly subdivided by an east-west running wall.
  2. Cell C2 is mostly made up of embedded stones (up to 1.2 m long) that protrude upwards of 60 cm above the ground surface. The intact segments of the north wall consist of stones stacked on top of one another in neatly laid vertical courses.
  3. Cell C3 has an incoherent perimeter. A boulder 3 m in length is incorporated into it. The stones of the cells project as much as 80 cm above ground level.
  4. Cell C4 has an ambiguous demarcation due to there being three intervening walls between it and C3. These walls are fragmentary and of an irregular design. The middle intervening wall is double-course and 1.2 m in thickness. There are naturally occurring boulders interspersed between the three walls that demarcate C3 and C4. The walls of C4 are double-course and more than one vertical layer of stones in height.
  5. Cell C5 has perimeter walls that are in poor condition. This cell is bisected into east and west sections by the remains of a partition wall.
  6. Cell C6 has double-course stacked perimeter walls but these are no longer in a very integral state.
  7. Cell C7 is largely intact. A large boulder sits in the wall dividing C6 and C7. In some places the perimeter wall consists of a single line of boulders embedded into the ground. Much of the perimeter, however, is made up of double-course walls (50 cm to 1 m in thickness) consisting of more than one layer of stones. These elevated wall sections are up to 70 cm in height and are composed of as many as five vertical courses of variable-length (up to 1 m long) stones.
Funerary Structure FS5

Funerary structure FS5 (7.7 m long) is situated 100 m northwest of FS4. FS5 occupies the northern end of the site and is the farthest from the foot of the enclosing ridge. The perimeter walls of this enclosure are only partially intact. On what appears to be the east side of FS5 there are multiple courses of brown sandstone slabs (around 20 cm long) embedded into the ground edgewise. These courses of slabs cover an area of 2 m by 1.2 m and are oriented in two different directions.


Note Citation for Page

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

Bibliographic Citation

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