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

Belmo MöndurBal mo mon dur

Basic site data

  • Site name: Belmo MöndurBal mo mon dur (sp?)
  • Site number: D-106
  • Site typology: II.2b
  • Elevation: 4900 m
  • Administrative location (township): MamikMa mig
  • Administrative location (county): GertséSger rtse
  • Survey expedition: HTWE
  • Survey date: June 18, 2004
  • Contemporary usage: Light grazing.
  • Identifiable Buddhist constructions: manima ṇi plaques and walls.
  • Maps: UTRS VII
  • View Place Dictionary Entry
  • View Sites Images

General site characteristics

Belmo MöndurBal mo mon dur is located on the east side of the BelmoBal mo basin in the PenchéPhan che region (now known as NachenNa chen). The views to the north and south are fairly open, while those to the east and west are constrained by ridges bounding the basin. The shelf upon which Belmo MöndurBal mo mon dur was built is turf-covered and strewn with shards from broken manima ṇi plaques. The site was completely altered by the construction of manima ṇi walls. In the Chinese Cultural Revolution, these manima ṇi walls were in turn destroyed and now lie in two heaps. The mostly broken plaques are primarily inscribed with the manima ṇi mantra. These plaques are significantly worn and must be centuries old. Evidently, the manima ṇi walls were built with stones extracted from local funerary structures. These Buddhist shrines are likely to have been constructed to rid the locale of negative influences thought to emanate from the funerary structures, or perhaps to make amends after their desecration. Interestingly, despite its wholesale modification, Belmo MöndurBal mo mon dur never lost its MönMon associations. The continued presence of the original structures has probably conspired to help it retain its older cultural connotations. It appears that substantial funerary structures once stood at Belmo MöndurBal mo mon dur. Recently, stones removed from the site were used to build a small enclosure for yak dung storage.

Oral tradition

According to drokpa’brog pa of BelmoBal mo, Belmo MöndurBal mo mon dur is an ancient MönMon burial ground.

Site elements

Belmo MöndurBal mo mon dur was primarily constructed from larger bluish metamorphic blocky rocks (30 cm to 1.2 m long). These stones appear to have been transported from an adjacent rocky slope. The largest of the old manima ṇi walls now forms a pile about 4.5 m in length and 1.5 m in height. This pile of sacred rubble may obscure older wall traces. There is also a smaller pile of broken plaques and rubble, the remains of another manima ṇi wall. A double-course wall fragment (5 m long, 65 cm thick) from a funerary structure is situated to the west of the manima ṇi wall rubble. The blocks in this east-west running wall are flush with the ground level. On either side of this structure there are concavities in the ground, the probable vestiges of two funerary enclosures or cells. The long masonry fragment appears to have been part of a wall common to both cells. The depression on the north side of this east-west oriented wall fragment is surrounded by other wall traces. These structural remains once formed a quadrate enclosure, approximately 3.7 m in length (east-west). No traces of walls remain around the south depression as well. Wall vestiges are also found north of the manima ṇi rubble, and there is a wall fragment (2.5 m long) to the east. It is not clear if these walls were part of funerary structures, the manima ṇi walls, or both genres of structures.

Affiliated sites

Jangma LangshaByang ma glang sha

Recently, while drokpa’Brog pa were excavating in the settlement of Jangma LangshaByang ma glang sha, in JangmaByang ma township, Drongpa’Brong pa county (31° 34.86΄ N. lat. / 84° 22.99΄ E. long. / 4600 m), human skeletal remains were discovered. A femur from a fairly tall individual was available for inspection.

Am NakkhaAm nag kha

Am NakkhaAm nag kha (Black Plain Rock Formation) is the name of a ridge that parallels the south side of a valley in the PenchéPhan che region (MamikMa mig township, GertséSger rtse county). On this ridge there is a distinctive line of stones that runs between two spurs (31° 45.4΄ N. lat. / 84° 05.8΄ E. long. / 4730 m). This sinuous stone structure is nearly 100 m in length and is located about 20 m above the valley floor. It runs in a northeast-southwest direction and is possibly a natural geological feature. A sloping terrace, 3 m to 10 m wide, forms behind this rock structure. A little farther up valley there are the remains of a manmade stone wall, which circumscribes the base of the southern ridge. This wall is around 200 m in length and 20 cm to 40 cm in height. In between these two linear stone structures is a third example bounding a terrace about 30 m above the valley floor. There are several dozen small stone mounds dispersed around the rocky valley bottom just north of the 200 m long wall. These mounds are 1 m to 2 m in diameter and 20 cm to 30 cm in height. They are impacted with soil and have moss growing on them, indicating that they have stood undisturbed for quite awhile. The mounds and the adjoining stone walls appear to have a funerary function. This is the only site of this particular morphological configuration surveyed to date. According to the local elder, Ngülchu YöntenDngul chu yon tan (Ox Year, born circa 1937), these walls and mounds are associated with the ancient MönMon.

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Note Citation for Page

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

Bibliographic Citation

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