Taste the thriller of 100 ancient tombs in Lhasa

12 September 2018, 11:37 PM
Take a walk among 100 ancient tombs in Lhasa
Take a walk among 100 ancient tombs in Lhasa

Over 100 ancient tombs were discovered in Lhasa, capital of Tibet, some months ago. Archaeologists found the tombs late last year during the excavation of a graveyard that spread over 200,000 square metres in Quxu County, according to Norbu Tashi, a researcher at the regional cultural protection institute. When excavating two of the tombs, archaeologists found pieces of human bone and ceramic relics, which radiocarbon tests showed were 1,180 to 1,286 years old, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. Here are nine more fascinating facts about the tombs in Lhasa.

  1. At the southern bank of the Yarlung Zangbo river, southwest of the Zongsam Mountain on the Mure Mountains are located the largest group of known tombs. Located in an open ground and bestowed with favourable natural conditions such as moderate weather, rich soil, and beautiful landscape, it is also the birthplace of the ancient Tibetan nationality and the old home of founding King Songtsen Gambo. He is believed to be buried in the Mure Mountains.
  2. Nine recognisable mausoleums in the Mure Mountain, covering an area of three-square kilometres believed to be the tomb of Tibetan kings. They are all similarly shaped, with almost the same height, square earth heaps with flat tops of piled stone and pecked earth. These tombs are replica of the early tomb styles of Central China. However, years of exposure to wind and weather have changed their features.
  3. An inscription found at one of the tombs reads that the tomb of Songtsen Gambo, the founder of Lhasa, was situated at the mouth of the Qingpu Ravine. The tomb which has now changed in form is believed to have been square. The interior had nine chambers, the main one a Buddhist hall, at the centre of which stood a seven or eight metre tall coral lamp that burned day and night. Like many of the royal tombs, the four corner chambers stored treasure for the afterlife. The inner tomb wall was made of square stone slabs covered by a thick layer of earth, which in turn was covered with broken stones, forming an earth hillock. 
  4. Like the Mayans and the Aztecs, the ancient Tibetans also had sacrificial temples. On the tomb of Songtsen Gambo, a sacrificial temple atop was believed to have existed. It consisted of 20-odd soul towers and four small-sized halls on the four sides. Within the temple were statues of royal households, Songtsen Garnbo, Princess Wen Cheng, Princess Chi Zun, Minister Ludongzan and the creator of the Tibetan language, Tunmi Sangpuquan. 
  5. Although the original buildings have deteriorated, efforts have been made to restore the temple and statues. Continuous stream of visitors and worshipers coming to pay tribute to this outstanding Tibetan King who devoted himself to the development of Tibetans and unity between the Han and Tibetan people.
  6. In 1984, the Tibet Committee for Management of Cultural Relics confirmed the discovery of yet another tomb of their king, King Chide Songzan along with his tomb's Stele. He is believed to have reigned from 793-815 and is also believed to have been buried in Qongyai County much like their founder. This was confirmed by a Tibetan script called King Chide Songzan. The script mentions that he was a righteous king, known far and wide to be powerful and prosperous and kept his people happy and virtuous. 
  7. King Chide Songzan tomb Stele is till date the best preserved in Lhasa. At 7.2 meters high, it consists of the crown, the shaft and the plinth. The crown capped by tiers of carved gems is a rectangle with a four-faceted bevel, the edge of which turns upward. The stele is meticulously placed and designed with four facets displaying carved designs of floating clouds. With flying celestials, carved sun and moon, an ancient Tibetan script, dragons mingling in relief with floating clouds on the shaft sides with a skilfully carved stone-tortoise plinth makes the tomb Stele not only a great historical value, but also an excellent art work of sculpture. The tomb Stele of King Chide is a rare treasure among Tibetan Tang Dynasty tomb tablets. 
  8. In the Mure Mountains stands yet another large elevated platform of earth and stone believed to be the tomb of Dusong Mangbujie. A pair of stone lions each 1.5 metres high placed in a rectangular pedestal in front of the tomb stands as the most valuable surface artifacts. They stand for power and protection. Their decisive carving and smooth lines make them stand out among the best carving works of the Tang Dynasty in China, and are even more precious in Tibet.
  9. There are, however, many other tombs according to Tibetan chronicles, including Mangsong Mangzan, Jiangca Lamu, Chide Zuzan, Mou Ru and Mou Ni. This goes to show that Tibetan kings gathered massive amounts of wealth and built magnificent palaces, monasteries and large-scale tombs. Although many of the tomb’s whereabouts remain unknown, many historical relics and treasures were buried in each tomb. A large amount of cultural treasure, remains unfounded which when it does will be a tremendous addition Tibetan history and culture, archaeologists say.

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First Published: Wednesday, September 12, 2018 07:03 PM
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