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.4. Shrines and miscellaneous constructions

Guru BumpaGu ru ’bum pa

Basic site data

  • Site name: Guru BumpaGu ru ’bum pa
  • Site number: F-2
  • Site typology: II.4
  • Elevation: 4020 m
  • Administrative location (township): DöyöSdod yod
  • Administrative location (county): PurangSpu rang
  • Survey expedition: HTCE
  • Survey date: May 4, 2002
  • Contemporary usage: Active ritual use.
  • Identifiable Buddhist constructions: Many stones inscribed with the manima ṇi and other mantras and prayer flags, as well as manima ṇi wheel, chötenmchod rten and tenkharrten mkhar shrines.
  • Maps: UTRS X, HAS C4
  • View Place Dictionary Entry
  • View Sites Images

General site characteristics

Guru BumpaGu ru ’bum pa, a Buddhist religious monument, is located on high ground near the agricultural village of DöyöSdod yod. The site overlooks the Maja TsangpoRma bya gtsang po (Karnali river) valley to the south and east. A sheer drop of as much as 100 m begins near the site in both of these directions. To the north and west there is rolling country with some arable plots situated at about the same elevation as Guru BumpaGu ru ’bum pa. Guru BumpaGu ru ’bum pa consists of two stepped platforms of seven graduated tiers each. These dry-stone structures are aligned in the cardinal directions. They are built of stones (mostly of cobbles), 20 cm to 80 cm long, which have been tinted red with ochre. There are many old manima ṇi stones at Guru BumpaGu ru ’bum pa, as well as simply built chötenmchod rten, tenkharrten mkhar and mani khorloma ṇi ’khor lo shrines. On the top of each stepped bumpa’bum pa there is a prayer flag mast connected to one another by a line of prayer flags.

The twin structures of Guru BumpaGu ru ’bum pa closely resemble numerous rock art (both petroglyphs and pictographs) compositions depicting stepped shrines of the tenkharrten mkhar, lhatenlha rten and sekhargsas mkhar classes. Much of this rock art can be attributed to the early historic period, lending credence to the belief that Guru BumpaGu ru ’bum pa was created in antiquity.229 Nevertheless, the style of construction is rudimentary and easily amenable to modification, which may have led to many instances of reconstruction and refurbishment over the centuries. It may also be worth considering the possibility that Guru BumpaGu ru ’bum pa was originally founded as an archaic religious monument (as was much of the analogous rock art). We must bear in mind that Guru RinpochéGu ru rin po che occupation myths veil or reconfigure the pre-Buddhist origins of many sites in the Tibetan cultural world. Remarkably, Guru BumpaGu ru ’bum pa survived the Chinese Cultural Revolution largely intact, although the site was desecrated. It is reported that stones with Guru RinpochéGu ru rin po che’s footprint (Zhapjézhabs rjes), enshrined at the site, were destroyed at that time.

Oral tradition

According to local myth, the eighth century CE Buddhist master Guru RinpochéGu ru rin po che and a servant (zhapchizhabs phyi) came to the nearby village of DöyöSdod yod. In the time it took his servant to cook a pot of rice, Guru RinpochéGu ru rin po che magically created Guru BumpaGu ru ’bum pa. According to a couple octogenarians of DöyöSdod yod village, including Trashi DöndrupBkra shis don grub, Guru RinpochéGu ru rin po che magically created Guru BumpaGu ru ’bum pa in a single night,

Site elements

North Bumpa’bum pa

The lowest tier or level of the north bumpa’bum pa measures about 19 m on each of its four sides. Each successive tier is smaller until the seventh or top tier measures about 2 m by 2 m. The north bumpa’bum pa has an overall height of about 7.5 m. The lowest tier is 80 cm in height and each of the successive tiers is 1 m to 1.2 m in height. At the corners of each of the seven levels, a single line of stones are stacked to make cairns. On the north side of the second tier, many of the cobbles have been inscribed with the manima ṇi mantra (and other mantras). On the east side of the second tier there are red ochre tinted yak skulls (a common offering to the deities). Adjacent to the east side of the north bumpa’bum pa there is a manima ṇi wall that extends south to the south side of the south bumpa’bum pa. A manima ṇi wall also comes in close proximity to the south and west sides of the north bumpa’bum pa.

South Bumpa’bum pa

The south bumpa’bum pa is situated 12 m south of the north bumpa’bum pa Its east wall is aligned with the west wall of the north bumpa’bum pa. The lowest level of the south bumpa’bum pa measures 14 m to 16 m on each of its four sides. The top or seventh tier is more than 2 m along each of its four sides. The total height of the structure is approximately 6.5m. The graduated tiers are around 80 cm to 1 m in height. At the corners of the seven tiers there is a single line of stones stacked to make cairns. The north side of the south bumpa’bum pa is completely open. The east side of the lowest tier has been widened to create a broad manima ṇi wall. The west and south sides of the lowest level have also been designed as manima ṇi walls. The south side manima ṇi wall extends north and merges with the manima ṇi wall that encloses the west side of the north bumpa’bum pa. Red ochre tinted yak skulls have been enshrined on the west side of the lowest level of the south bumpa’bum pa.

Affiliated sites

Chöten ChenpoMchod rten chen po

Chöten ChenpoMchod rten chen po is a similarly constructed shrine of six or seven graduated tiers surmounted by a cubic structure (30° 19. 2΄ N. lat. / 81° 10.5΄ E. long. / 3970 m). Chöten ChenpoMchod rten chen po is situated in a walled compound, beside the main road leading to the PurangSpu rang county seat. It is smaller and not as well built as Guru BumpaGu ru ’bum pa. Many prayer flags are stuck in the top of Chöten ChenpoMchod rten chen po. The construction of this shrine is also associated with the activities of Guru RinpochéGu ru rin po che in Purang MéSpu rang smad.


Notes

[229] Bellezza, Zhang Zhung, 182-184.
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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.