London, Great Britain
Calligrapher, Thangka painter, BA in Visual Arts (Hons)
The Tibetan written language came into existence in the 7th century A.D. under the direction of King Songtsen Gampo. During his reign the enormous task translating the Buddhist Sanskrit texts into Tibetan began. His minister and great scholar Thonmi Sambhota, provided a foundation in the written language and grammar. The different script styles then developed over nine generations, evolving steadily to the 10th century furthering its preservation. By the 19th century, models of Uchen and Umeh script styles were perfected, detailing the exact proportions, which are still in use today.
For Centuries, calligraphy was an important dimension of traditional Tibetan education. Monastic and non-monastic institutions, where the students had to undergo rigorous training in calligraphy for 10 to 15 years, spending at least a couple of years on each style. Listed below are several of the more widely practiced script styles.
The Tibetan written language falls into two main categories:
An important point should be addressed is that of the preservation and practice of the various script styles the Tibetan language offers. The knowledge of understanding Tibetan is a key to a great wealth of wisdom.
As it is a fact that the complete 108 volumes of the Buddha’s teaching ‘Kangur’ and ‘Tengyur’ 224 volume commentaries to both the ‘Sutras’ and ‘Tantras’ are available in Tibetan, where as much of the original Sanskrit volumes have been lost to the dust of time.
Ancient traditions take many generations to develop and mature. However with neglect, such traditions can easily be lost in just one generation.
Documentation and reproduction is essential for their survival.