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An introduction

Munshi House
before restoration

Survey & documentation
of the existing building


Building Materials

The team on site
in August 2007

The Library and reading







    Building Materials - Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3    

Traditional building construction makes use of the materials which are available locally – stone, earth and wood – and crafts them in ways which change only gradually, sometimes over centuries. The community as well as the craftsman becomes involved in building, and building becomes an essential part of the cultural life of the community. Stone was recovered form fallen walss onteh site and used to build the base of he new library owalls and new foundations in Gayoo and below the Rabsal Room.

Earth bricks for restoration work in the Munshi House were made on site to match the old bricks, using earth from the site, river sand, chopped straw and yak dung from old stables. They were made on the roof and left to dry for two weeks. Bricks fro new building in Gyaoo and the library were smaller modern-sized bricks 6x6x12 inches bought from Shey. Brick and stone were laid in mud mortar.

Yamang (slate) was brought from Chilling, two hours drive away on the Zankar River. Thin pieces were cut to size for the copings of the roof parapets, and larger pieces laid as flooring.

Wood. Historically al the timber used in building was from local sources, but now much is imported from Kashmir: pine for main beams and pillars (mardung, ka, kaju) and round poles of poplar for roof and floor joists (dungma). Willow sticks for ceilings (taloo) are grown locally. All the timber is worked by hand.

Smoke stained and tar encrusted beams and pillars in the lower floors were taken out and washed. Sound sections of wood from broken beams were saved and reused.

The parapets on the south front of the Munshi House and around the courtyard were faced in twigs of burtse, a mountain shrub. This was salvaged and relaid. New burtse could not be found, and so willow stick facings were used for some of the rebuilt parapets.

Click here to view: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3


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