25 February 2010

Tibetan Cymbal Symbols

A friend recently wrote to me:
Please could you tell me what my cymbals say?

I've been taking these cymbals into prison for over 15 years, to ding meditation stages. Occasionally, someone asks me what the symbols mean. I confidently reply that it is the Avalokiteshvara mantra.

Only, last week a bright spark asked if it says "om mani padme hum" how come there are seven symbols rather than six?
The answer is quite simple. It is the Avalokiteśvara mantra written in a Tibetan script called dbu-can (pronounced uchen) - the main formal script they use for texts and printing. The extra symbol is a paragraph marker, known as a 'shed' in Tibetan. It's more often a simple vertical stroke, but sometimes a colon-like thing as you have here.

oṃ ma ṇi pad me hūṃ :

I've added the letters onto your image so you can see which is which. While we're on the subject there is no word break in maṇipadme - it is a single compound word meaning, most likely "in the jewelled lotus" (but clearly not "the jewel in the lotus" as Sanskrit grammar does not allow this meaning, despite it's popularity). I've written about this on my blog post "The Meaning of oṃ maṇipadme hūṃ".

Note the Tibetans write "pa dme" as "pad me" because it looks more Tibetan. In the image below the top line is what is on your bells, and the bottom line is the proper Sanskrit, but still using the same script.

One also sees the mantra on these kinds of bells written in the Lantsa script (below).

My compliments to the bright spark who spotted that there were seven symbols!

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14 August 2008

White Tārā in Tibetan?

Christine wrote in to ask about a Tibetan version of the White Tārā mantra. I had left this off the White Tārā page and so I got to work and did some uchen calligraphy of the mantra. I have also added some of the other variants of the Tārā mantra that ask for help with specific problems or hindrances. Thanks Christine!

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18 July 2008

Calligraphy Requests

I often get requests for calligraphy of names or words. Here is "Devi Tārā" in the Tibetan dbu-can script which I did for Sandra.

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27 October 2007

Milarepa & White Tārā

Added the Milarepa mantra in Uchen and Siddhaṃ, and the Long-Life mantra for Sangharakshita on the White Tārā page. Also some time back I added my notes on White Tārā and her iconographic relationship to the Five Buddha Mandala and the Siddhaṃ version of taṃ.

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25 September 2007

Excellent Tibetan Mantra Calligraphy

Tashi Mannox recently dropped me a line, and I am very happy to direct people to his mantra calligraphy website: www.tashimannox.co.uk. His work is of a very high standard as you can see (right). He is fluent in many styles of Tibetan script, and also designs seals.

He also designs tattoos and has a second website devoted to this: Inkessential.

Title: Mani Mantra, Chinese Ink on paper. Size: 71x54cm
(this work is for sale, contact Tashi via his website)

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09 August 2007

Indian scripts in Tibet

The Indian Scripts in Tibet website is very useful and attractive. I hadn't realized that there is a difference between Lansta and Ranjana for instance - although it is subtle. Plus several scripts such as Vartu, Smar-script, and Zhang-zhung, which I have not heard of before. Some wonderful examples of Lantsa calligraphy, especially of the Vajrasattva mantra.

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29 July 2007

Tibetan stuff

One blog leads to another... found Jinajik today which lead to...

It's a bit peripheral to Visible Mantra but Early Tibet blog, by Sam Van Schaik, is quite interesting, and has an essay in multiple parts on the Avalokiteśvara mantra.

It has a link to Reading Tibetan Manuscripts which is by the same person and is much more on-topic. A bit of a gold mine for people interested in Tibetan orthography. Which lead to...

In texts, through thoughts, with pleasure which looks intriguing, especially if you like Buddhist logic and epistemology.

What was I looking for again?


26 July 2007

Outstanding Tibetan Calligraphy

compassion 2
Originally uploaded by Nathanael.Archer
I stumbled on this amazing collection of Tibetan calligraphy some time back. What I'm trying to do is present the basics, but Nathanael gives you some idea of what where you can take this art if you want to. Innovative and creative, combining calligraphy and stamps or seals.

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