Gönpa Gang—The First Application of Dendrochronological Dating to Study the Traditional Architecture of Upper Mustang (Nepal)

Barbara Gmińska-Nowak, Achyut Tiwari, Tomasz Ważny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Gönpa Gang is an example of the traditional Buddhist architecture of Upper Mustang. It is also the first monument in Upper Mustang to be studied using the dendrochronological dating method. The gönpa is a two-story building of imposing size, made from simple elements of Tibetan architecture, namely masonry walls, timber posts, and beams. A total of 14 samples were collected from elements on both the ground and the first floor. The limited number of samples results from the cultural and religious character of the object under study. Only the elements consistent with the structure and the space arrangement, interpreted as original features, were examined. Microscopic observation and the analysis of the anatomical features of all 14 samples resulted in the identification of Himalayan pine (blue pine), Pinus wallichiana A.B. Jacks. Intra-annual density fluctuation, false rings, and missing rings were detected. From 14 samples collected in Gönpa Gang, 18 series were worked out. Thus, 15 series from 12 samples were synchronized and used for the development of the mean chronology, UMGG_m, with a total length of 160 rings. The chronology covers the period from 1524 to 1683. Examination of the Gang Gönpa wood resulted in the age determination of 13 elements. The results were compared with architectural stratification by Harrison and historical data from written sources. The timber used in the gönpa comes from the Southern Mustang area. The examined wood demonstrates a correlation with the timber used in the Upper Mustang historical buildings further north.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number95
JournalForests
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Buddhist architecture
  • Dendroarchaeology
  • Gönpa
  • Pinus wallichiana A.B. Jacks
  • Upper Mustang

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry

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