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Traditional Herbal Walls in Tibet

Time: 19-06-2018 This Article is Composed by BudgetTibetTour

In the Tibetan-inhabited areas, the parapet walls of important halls in monasteries such as large "Zhacang" (group unit name of monasteries. the largest one being "Coqen", followed by "Zhacang" and "Kamnncun" and the smallest "Micun") and sutra hall, are reddish brown, offering a distinct contrast with the white walls. As its materials are made of shrub branches named "Benma" in Tibetan, which are bundled and then dyed, they are called Benma walls.

Traditional Herbal Walls in Tibet

After being peeled off and sun baked, the Benma branches and trunks are chopped into sections 30 centimeters long and, in bundles as thick as an arm, are then piled up to form Benma walls. When building up such walls, a layer of clay stones would be placed on a layer of bundled Benma branches and then tamped down. Then, one after another, the walls would be built up to the top and waterproofed. The reddish brown paint that is used gives the distinctive coloring of the Benma walls.

Traditional Herbal Walls in Tibet

From the view of construction technology, this kind of wall body can reduce the weight of wall, playing a good role in overall weight-reduction of tall Tibetan-style buildings; regarding their appearance. Benma walls play a decorative role by offering a strong color contrast with the dominant white, resulting in a good visual aesthetic feeling. With a reddish brown parapet walls on a white wall body and with the black stripes on the windows edges, the wall color changes from being monotone to colorful and front being light to being dignified, which enhances the seriousness of the whole architecture, just the sort of feeling we get from the Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple and the three major monasteries in Lhasa.

Traditional Herbal Walls in Tibet

In Tibetan history, reddish brown Benma walls were a special treatment given to for particular buildings, and were not just for anyone. In old Tibet, when the system of combining politics with religion was followed, all the religious buildings like monasteries were distinguished by Benma walls, golden trips, and treasure umbrellas and treasure bottles. In fact, apart from religion, the strict class system that prevailed in Tibet was also reflected in architecture. Thus, the ruling and ruled classes were strictly separated by such symbols as building site, height, decoration and more subtle distinctions such as mounting stones before gates. In site and height, noble houses were distinctively different front the buildings of common people, including being able to have Benma walls. In old-style noble’s houses, we can find some with Benina walls, and the most representative being Chongsekang and Nangeshag on Barkor Street North and Sangzhub Phodrang on Barkur Street Sooth, These constructions are old-style noble’s houses occupied by famous noble families of the old regime. Except for them, there are no Benma walls in non-religious Tibetan-style architecture.

Traditional Herbal Walls in Tibet

In the view of this writer, however, Benma walls originated from the architecture created by the common people. In Tibetan farming areas, it can be found that, on the top of farmers’ houses walls there are circles of closed fitted, piled firewood or cow dung cakes, which offer a color contrast to the while walls. Originally, fanners made good use of the spaces on wall tops to pile rip firewood in order to save living space as well as to prevent thieves from climbing over the walls. Clever Tibetan architects got inspiration from this scene, and adopted it in the building of wall bodies.

Traditional Herbal Walls in Tibet

Benma walls occupy an important position in Tibetan-style architecture, but due to rare materials, complex production process and high cost, it is impossible to adopt it on a large scale in modern Tibetan-style architecture. However, as Benma walls are an indispensable part of traditional Tibetan.-style architecture, we should investigate how to preserve the distribution of Benma walls, the processing and wall construction crafts and their role. Then this aspect of national architecture can be preserved for ever md will play a role in maintaining ancient Tibetan constructions.

Other Travelers' Questions

The questions raised by our past customers can help you get a more clear picture about tours to Tibet, read them or tell us your own questions via the form on the right side, our specialists will reply you within 24 hours.

user portrait Ms. Dita from: Available small group tours join in 2018&2019
Hi, I'm coming to Kathmandu at 21th november and staying till 7th december and in between I would like to go to Tibet. I would like to know how much would it cost and what are the posibilities to get there from Kathmandu?
Thank you!
Answered by Helen

Dear Ms. Dita,

Thank you very much for your inquiry and welcome you to join our tour. Entering Tibet from Kathmandu, you need to apply for the Chinese group visa in Kathmandu, which will cost your 3 or 4 working days. If you arrive in Kathmandu on 21st Nov, you can start to apply for the group visa on 22nd Nov, then you’ll get your visa on 26th Nov (24th and 25th are weekend). We currently have departure date on 27th Nov for 4 days Lhasa city tour, 6 days Lhasa – Shigatse tour, 8 days Tibet Mt. Everest tour. You can fly from Kathmandu to Lhasa on 27th and join any tour that you prefer. I will send the detailed itinerary to your email, please check it. Best wishes.

Email to Helen about any question or tell us your own questions via the form on the right side

user portrait Mr. Valentine Thompson from: 7 Days Lhasa to Kathmandu Tour via Everest Base Camp
Please help! I'm interested in this trip: 7-day Lhasa to Kathmandu via EBC.

Kind regards,

Valentine
Answered by Helen

Dear Mr. Valentine Thompson, 

 Thank you very much for your inquiry. Please tell me when you will start your Tibet tour, and how many persons together. Travelling Tibet, you need one Tibet Permit, and we will apply for the permit for you, which requires your passport and Chinese visa (clear scan or photo copy). I will send the detailed itinerary to you, please check your email. Warm regards.

Email to Helen about any question or tell us your own questions via the form on the right side

user portrait Mr. Amal from: Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar
Hi,
Do you arrange flight from Kathmandu to Hilsa. I like to do full Quora and manas Sarovar.
Answered by Helen

Dear Mr. Amal,

Greetings from Helen at Budget Tibet Tour, Thanks for visiting our website and sending your inquiry. Normally it is better for clients to book the international flights on their own as if there is emergency of the flights, the air company can contact you directly. If you are Indian passport holders, sorry we cannot apply Tibet permit for you to Kailash, but you are welcome to visit other places except Kailash and Manasarovar Lake. Best regards to you.

Email to Helen about any question or tell us your own questions via the form on the right side

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