A Note on the Rock Art of Lake Namtso, Tibet

South Asian Studies 6 - 1990

Page 1/2


Robert A. Hefner III Tibet Bradshaw Foundation
Robert A. Hefner III
After a long and interesting day of travel by jeep from Lhasa with a Chinese driver, with stops at Yangbajing (a town comprised of steam, geysers, hot springs, a few drilling rigs, and a thermal electric plant that supplies Lhasa) and Damxung (a 'boardwalk' village with the distinct look of the American wild west), we arrived through a series of steep switchbacks at the 5,132 metre crest of the Lar-geh La Pass in Tibet.

As we jumped from the jeep to take photographs, we were confronted by one of the most spectacular views of a lifetime, while at the same time feeling we were standing on top of the world! The deep blue Tibetan sky encompassed barren, craggy, rocky peaks, full of spectacular geological structures typical of the Tibetan plateau. Beside the road was a pile of carved religious rocks and a pole with many fluttering prayer flags. Only 300 metres below was a sapphire lake enclosed by snowy peaks: the great valley of Lake Namtso.
Lar-geh La Pass Tibet
Lar-geh La Pass
Damxung Village Tibet
Damxung Village
Located some 200 kilometres north-northwest of Lhasa, at 4,600 metres, Lake Namtso is one of two principal holy lakes in Tibet, and forms the centre of the great high plains (4,600 metres) valley floor, surrounded by mountains (5,400 to 6,600 metres in height) of the Nyanchen Tanglha range. At one point during our trip, while sitting campside with our nomad friends, with a literally indescribable fantastic twilight glowing over those magnificent snow-covered peaks, I thought that whoever first coined the word 'vast' must surely have had this spectacular place in mind.

Lake Namtso Tibet
Lake Namtso
It was mid-summer and the otherwise totally barren plain was covered with the grassy vegetation of a bog, the valley and surrounding mountains seemed to be glacially carved and wind eroded, the rocky remnants now and then surrounding the lake appeared to be water carved, and the water was salty and brackish; Lake Namtso was apparently drying up. Before this great drying period, features such as a pair of great pillars were cut by the water's action during a geological period when the lake was 30/40m higher than it is today.

According to local nomads, the lake requires about 20 days to circumnavigate on horseback. The lake is surrounded by a number of holy places (equivalent to American Indian 'power places') and small 'gompas', i.e., Buddhist shrines or small temples built mostly within small caves approximately 15 to 20 metres deep and 5 to10 metres high in limestone remnants surrounding the lake. Near one such gompa we encountered over 100,000 beautifully carved Tibetan stones forming a wall over one metre tall by one metre wide and stretching at least 300 metres along the shore of Lake Namtso.
tibetan local nomads
Local nomads
great pillars tibet
A pair of great pillars


Go to Page 2
Tibet - A Photographic Journey
The China Rock Art Archive
bradshaw foundation donate help
Mailing List

Email Sign-Up
website updates

Email

First Name

Last Name

Country

Prints
Homepage About the Foundation Contact Us Facebook News Articles Twitter Travel Index About the Expeditions Forthcoming Expeditions Bespoke Expeditions Enquire Practical Information History of Exploration Welcome to the iShop Film Downloads DVD's Sculpture Prints Clothing Messenger Bag eBooks INORA Downloads About iLecture Films Shipping & Handling iLectures In Conversation Video Stories Travel Films Read the reviews Join the free Mailing List Bradshaw Foundation Facebook Friends of the Foundation Archive Index World's Oldest Rock Art Africa Documentary Films South Africa RARI Giraffe Carvings Niger Namibia Western Central Africa Africa Paintings Gallery Tanzania The Tuareg People Tuareg Salt Caravans Gilf Kebir Archive Index San Rock Art Paintings San Bushman San Rock Art Film Origins Centre Johannesburg Archive Index Arizona Baja California Coso Range Nevada Oregon Territory Australia Archive Index Introduction Bradshaw Paintings Kimberley Region The Unambal Hugh Brown Leif Thiele Gallery Dan Clark Grahame Walsh Ian Wilson Bradshaws / Gwion Gwion Archive Index Introduction Origins of the British Stonehenge Sounds of Stonehenge The British Museum British Isles Megaliths Gower Peninsula Rock Art Mendip Hills Prehistory Northumberland Rock Art Red Lady of Paviland Stone Age Mammoth Abattoir Archive Index Yinchuan Museum Rock Art Festival Field Trip Gallery Itinerant Creeds Inner Mongolia & Ningxia Vanishing Civilization Life in Rock Art (PDF) Tibet Tibet Photographs Dazu Rock Carvings Tiger Motif Archive Index Chauvet Cave Lascaux Cave Niaux Cave Cosquer Cave Portable Art Research Paper Tuc d'Audoubert Bison Dr. Jean Clottes Index UNESCO World Heritage Introduction Cave Paintings Gallery Visiting the Chauvet Cave Return to Chauvet Cave Investigating the Cave Venus & Sorcerer Werner Herzog Film Chauvet Publications India Archive Index Rock Art Central India Pachmarhi Hills India Rock Art Gallery Middle East Archive Index Middle East Inroduction Rock Art of Iran Rock Art of Saudi Arabia United Arab Emirates Rock Art Ancient Geometry Middle East Colonisation Tanum Rock Art Museum Thor Heyerdahl Archive Index Introduction America's Oldest Art? Pedra Furada Bolivian Rock Art Campeche Island - Brazil Checta Petroglyphs - Peru Cueva de las Manos Santa Catarina Island - Brazil Rock Art in Britain Campeche Rock Art Petroglyphs El Salvador - Corinto Cave Hand Rock Art Paintings Tibetan Rock Art United Arab Emirates Uzbekistan Yinchuan Rock Art Museum Introduction Ice Age Art Gallery Claire Artemyz Jill Cook Interview Cycladic Introduction Cycladic Gallery Introduction Geometric Signs Chart Research Methodology Geometric Signs in France Sign Types/Countries/Regions Bibliography Ancient Symbols in Rock Art Newsletter Archive Download Issues Introduction Genetic Map Professor Stephen Oppenheimer Further Reading Origins of the British BBC Documentary Origins Index Origins Overview 13 Big Questions Stanley Ambrose Homo Floresiensis Herto Skulls Homo Dmanisi Liujiang Skull Introduction Sentinels in Stone Easter Island Rock Art Birdman Cult / Motif Sea & Marine Creatures Design & Motifs Dr Georgia Lee Easter Island Map Contemporary Art Glossary Conclusion Thor Heyerdahl Introduction When & Who Built It? How Was It Built? The Area Sounds of Stonehenge Meaning of a Pyramid Pyramid Studies Pyramid Superstructure Pyramid Substructure Pyramid Preparations Pyramid Building Saqqara Nabil Swelim Temples of Malta and Gozo Research in the Caucasus The Keselo Foundation Homo Dmanisi Ancient Toolmakers Index Introduction Descent into the Cave The Decorated Caves Shamanistic Experience Spring Initiation Rites Summary Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Professor John P. Miller Motif: Eternal Index Han Meilin Bruce Radke Christian Tuki Gordon Ellis-Brown Site Map Search the Website Glossary of Terms & Definition Podcast on iTunes List of Research Papers Other Websites Contact the Foundation