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.

Site elements

Kyi PukSkyid phug

Kyi PukSkyid phug is constructed in the typical fashion of all-stone edifices in Upper Tibet. The roof appurtenances (corbels, bridging stones and sheathing) are 1 m to 1.5 m in length. The stone sheathing of the roof appears to have been covered in a layer of gravel and clay. There is now a sandy deposit covering the roof. There are two small, rebuilt ritual turrets (choklcog) on the west edge of the roofline, which may be an indication that this type of architectural element was known during the archaic cultural horizon, as the BönBon tradition maintains. The outer walls of Kyi PukSkyid phug have a sinuous plan, circumscribing rooms with irregular plans and rounded corners. The walls (around 70 cm thick) are robust and skillfully built. These walls have a random-rubble fabric, and are composed of blocks and slabs, 10 cm to 1 m in length. A blue-gray stone that has oxidized to a reddish brown color was used in construction. The seams in the walls contain traces of a mud-based mortar. There is much orange climax lichen growing on the north side of Kyi PukSkyid phug. The exterior of Kyi PukSkyid phug is around 4 m in height, including its prominent revetment. Some in situ boulders were incorporated in the revetment. There is an exterior wall buttress on the east side of Kyi PukSkyid phug.

On the rim of the summit, in the vicinity of Kyi PukSkyid phug, are the remains of a circumvallation, an architectural feature often associated with strongholds. Between this encircling wall and the edifice there is a circumambulatory passage. Kyi PukSkyid phug can be divided into three sections: southern courtyard, the south/forward wing and the north/rear wing of the edifice. In total, this building is approximately 10 m in length. Access to Kyi PukSkyid phug is via a south-facing entrance in the courtyard that appends the south side of the structure. At one time a couple of stone steps must have led up to this outer entrance. The freestanding walls of the courtyard are up to 2.5 m in height. On the west side of the courtyard there is a sheltered depression under the wall, which appears to be the remains of a latrine pit. A walled landing with a couple steps in the rear of the courtyard leads up to the entrance (approximately 1.8 m high) in the building itself.

The rooms of Kyi PukSkyid phug have a floor-to-ceiling height of 1.5 m to 2 m. There are still traces of the clay plaster that once covered the interior walls. The larger of the two rooms in the forward wing of Kyi PukSkyid phug has lost its stone roof. An attempt was made to rebuild the roof with wooden beams, bamboo, plastic sheeting and mud, but this has proven quite ineffective. The two anterior rooms comprised the living quarters of the meditators who used to reside at Kyi PukSkyid phug. The larger forward room contains a stone sleeping platform, two niches (Wangkhungbang khung) and a low stone shelf. The smaller forward room still has the benefit of its all-stone roof. More recently, this smaller room has been used for fuel storage. A short, buttressed interclose links the main forward room with the main rear room of Kyi PukSkyid phug. The entranceway between these two rooms is approximately 1.8 m in height, a relatively large portal in dokhangrdo khang architecture. There are two rooms inside the rear wing, both of which possess an integral all-stone roof. The ceilings in these two rooms are fire-blackened and covered in heavy white and black organic deposits, indications that Kyi PukSkyid phug has stood for a very long time. The main room of the rear wing functioned as the chapel (lhakanglha khang) of Kyi PukSkyid phug. Inside, there is a stone altar, stone shelves and a niche. Adjoining the chapel is a smaller rear room, the protector chapel (gönkhangmgon khang). The main protective god of Kyi PukSkyid phug is the tsenBtsan, Jakpa MelenJag pa me len. Other protector deities of the site include the tsenBtsan, Atsé GönpoA btse mgon po, and TarkarBrtar dkar, the yüllhayul lha or deity presiding over the locale.

Other structures

On the hilltop just south of Kyi PukSkyid phug there are walls with old plaques inscribed with prayers and mantras, which has been largely restored. Many of these plaques are of red sandstone, highly worn and carved with the manima ṇi mantra. There is also a chötenmchod rten on the summit, built in the 1990s by a visiting lay Buddhist practitioner (ngakpasngags pa). These Buddhists structures obscure foundations, which appear to have belonged to the earlier fortress complex. Stones extracted from these older structures must have been used to construct the Buddhist monuments of the summit. On the east side of DzongserRdzong ser, on a level slope situated halfway between the summit and base of the hill, there are three ruins that have been reduced to their footings. These structures were built in a row, the largest of which is the middle specimen (7 m by 7 m). On the broad, lower north summit of DzongserRdzong ser there are the ruined bases of two chötenmchod rten or tenkharrten mkhar (shrines for indigenous and other types of protective deities) and a tumulus measuring 5 m across. It should be noted that, other than Kyi PukSkyid phug, the various structures of DzongserRdzong ser were not resurveyed in 2006.


Note Citation for Page

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

Bibliographic Citation

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