Thursday, January 3, 2013

Khyunglung Ngülkhar: The Silver Palace & The Garuda Valley


Click Here to View the Main Index


"Zhang Zhung consisted "of three different regions: sGob-ba, the outer; Phug-pa, the inner; and Bar-ba, the middle. The inner region is said to be sTag-gzig (Tazig) [often identified with Bactria]...some of the ancient texts describing the Zhang Zhung kingdom also claimed the Sutlej valley was Shambhala,"....Karmey, Samten G. (1975). A General Introduction to the History and Doctrines of Bon. Memoirs of the Research Department of the Toyo Bunko, No. 33, pp. 171–218. Tokyo.

Click on the map to enlarge

"The capital city of Zhang Zhung was called Khyunglung (Khyunglung Ngülkhar or Khyung-lung dngul-mkhar), the "Silver Palace of Garuda", southwest of Mount Kailash (Mount Ti-se)....Garuda - valley - silver - castle, "The Silver Castle of Garuda Valley"...30º 04. 0" N. lat. / 80º 32.2" E. long.

"At one point the Zhang Zhung civilization consisted of 18 kingdoms in the west and northwest portion of Tibet. Tibetan accounts say that the Tibetan king and the king of Zhangzhung had married each other's sisters in a political alliance.

"In 1988 Prof. Namkhai Norbu, the founder of the Shang Shung Institute, organized an expedition to Mt. Kailash with some of his students . In that occasion he also visited the ancient cave-city near the modern village of Khyung Lung in Dzamda county. There he identified for the first time the cave-city with the last capital of Shang Shung, Khyung Lung Ngulkar (literally “Silver Castle in the Garuda Valley”). The remains of the three-storey “Palace” of Khyung Lung, probably the King and his family’s residence, are still visible. Beneath the Castle there were other constructions of which we have lost traces on surface. More than 200 caves were probably the dwellings of the ministers and king’s dignitaries, later used by Buddhist practitioners for personal retreats and recently frequented by nomads as shelters. Some caves have external chapels, maybe belonging to the Buddhist period. Some stupas (XIII century A.D.) and the ruins of a Gompa witness that in the cave-city there was a lively Buddhist monk community until recent times (1959).

Click on the map to enlarge

"At one time, Khyunglung Ngülkhar was likely an impressive palace, mythologized as being founded on gold, walled in silver, with its pinnacle reaching up through the "thirteen levels of the sky" (Ramble 1999, p. 10). It was the residence of all forms of deities, who functionally cohabitated with earthly beings, the capital of the Zhang Zhung empire, and the stomping grounds of Drenpa Namkha (dran pa nam mkha’), one of Bön's most famous personalities (Karmay et al. 2003, p. 240). Charles Ramble (1995) calls it "something between an architectural wonder and a sacred mountain" ......

"It has been variously identified as being south-west of Mt. Kailash (, possibly somewhere in the Khyunglung Township of Tsamda (rtsa mda’) County (Bellezza 2005), and most specifically as "…the land of outer Zhang-zhung, in the midst of g.Yung-drung mu-le, in the enclosure of the snow mountains [possibly Welso (dbal so), the snow mountains that allegedly encircle Ölmo Lungring ('ol mo lung ring, Karmay 1972, p. 17)], in a corner of Ma-pang g.yu-mtsho" (Ramble 1999, p. 9). Today, Khyunglung Ngülkhar has become a religious site, a place of holy pilgrimage, and the "-mkhar" ("castle") of its name can be found only in scattered ruins, as described by Giuseppe Tucci in his 1937 Santi e briganti nel Tibet ignoto, though some claim that the palace became Gugé Shartsé (gu ge shar rtse), and still exists in altered form (, while others talk about the region in broad enough terms that it can include the Guru Gyam (gu ru gyam) monastery of Möntser (mon mtsher), Gardzong (sgar rdzong) (Karmay et al. 2003, p. 240).....

"..... it was the capital of Zhang Zhung, that the kingdom's last king, Likmigya (lig my rgya), was the last to reside in the palace, and that it was destroyed by Trisong Detsen (khri srong lde btsan) in his conquest of Zhang Zhung

"In 2005 and 2006 the well know Austrian Tibet explorer Bruno Baumann also went into that area and probably discovered the ancient kingdom of Shung Shung. He is an award-winning writer, photographer, and filmmaker, whose work has earned him international recognition as an authority on the land and culture of Tibet and Central Asia.

"KHYUNG.....All those familiar with Tibetan culture will know the khyung, the mythical horned eagle of Tibet. These fabulous birds come in many forms, painted and sculptural. Horned raptors are also found in the rock art of Upper Tibet, forming a subset of birds of prey with outstretched wings (depicted flying). Carnivorous birds (khyung, eagles, hawks, vultures, falcons, and owls) are important elements in many Tibetan religious traditions, myths and customs. The khyung has pride of place in Tibetan religious art soaring above the thrones of deities. According to certain ritual texts, its horns possess demon destroying properties. There are also textual indications that these so-called horns may actually be feathers such as those that form the crests of some avian species.....

"Its Indian ancestry is the garuda line, flying creatures with the wings and tail of a raptor combined with anthropomorphic qualities..... With the spread of Buddhism northwards, the garuda was also introduced to Tibet (and from there to greater Mongolia at a later date). Reaching Tibet in the early historic period (650–1000 CE), the garuda became assimilated to the khyung, as Buddhism displaced earlier religious traditions of the Plateau....While the Hindu garuda is the mount of the god Vishnu, the khyung is a vehicle for a good number of Buddhist and Bon protective deities....It was elevated to the status of a tantric tutelary god in both Buddhism and Bon. Associated with the fire element and space, the khyung is commonly propitiated to counteract diseases attributed to water spirits (klu). It is also the prime zoomorphic emblem of the profound philosophical and mystic tradition known as the Great Perfection (Rdzogs-chen).......

"The Bon religion has retained numerous accounts of the khyung set in the period before Buddhism swept over Tibet. Often these narratives have a Buddhist ring to them such as those describing the transformation of adepts into khyungs, a sign of their ultimate liberation..the pentad of khyung that reside at Mount Tise (Kailash).....The Bon religion (and Tibetan Buddhism to a lesser degree) has also preserved a native form of the horned eagle. This khyung is a genealogical deity and uranic protective spirit. The most celebrated ancestral khyung is said to have appeared in Zhang Zhung as the divine progenitor of the Khyungpo tribe. Early human representatives of the Khyungpo are credited with founding the first temples (gsas-mkhar) of Zhang Zhung. It is generally believed by Bonpo that the Khyungpo migrated east into Kham (where its various branches are now very common), but when this might have taken place is not clear. The best known defender khyungs are in the form of divine mountains (lha-ri) and warrior spirits (dgra-lha). This type of khyung is thought to have been the ally of ancient adepts and kings. To this day, Tibetan spirit-mediums are said to have khyungs that watch over and aid them during trance ceremonies. The ubiquitous reach of the khyung as an ancestral totem and spirit comrade deeply influenced the material culture of ancient Tibet. The horns of the khyung are recorded as being the paramount symbol of sovereignty for the kings of Zhang Zhung. Ancient Bon priests are reputed to have worn robes and hats of khyung feathers and to have had magical instruments and armaments made from the body parts of these great birds. The khyung also lent its name to numerous toponyms in the Tibetan world. Perhaps the most famous of these is Khyunglung Ngulkhar, Zhang Zhung’s capital. So vital was the khyung that one Bon tradition claims it gave its old name (zhung [-zhag]) to Zhang Zhung. ..


John Hopkins.....Northern New Mexico….January 2013


No comments:

Post a Comment