December 20, 2011


me stag:

The Tibetan word for “ember” is “fire tiger,” probably because of ember’s physical appearance. Or can it be that me mdag and me stag are simply phonetic cognates? Cf. “Feuer-Tiger” = “Funke” (Schwieger 2009: 39).


  1. My understanding is that the word me-stag means sparks, while the me-mdag means embers (Goldstein: "hot ash from a fire"). The question whether they may be related or not isn't really answerable, is it?

    I've noted a usage of me-mdag in Kambala's Ālokamālā:

    ri dwags me mdag mi za zhing. The wild deer doesn't eat glowing coals.

    But there are problems with the reading! C. Lindtner's edition reads: ri dwags mes dag me za zhing, "the deer purified by fire eating fire." The Skt. has agniśauca.

    Interesting, isn't it?


  2. Dear Dan,

    Your understanding seems more nuanced than mine. Frankly, I did not take me stag and me mdag to be different at all. Indeed Jäschke calls me stag (by the way, also spelt there as me ltag, which I have never encountered) “spark” and “sparklet,” adding, however, “a bit of live coal in the ashes.” For me mdag, he has “coals glowing underneath the ashes.” At least Jäschke does not seem to see much difference between the two. One thing is clear, me stag or me mdag must be live (glowing hot) pieces of charcoal and how much they lie buried underneath the ashes or how much they glow or spark may depend on the amount of wind and the stage of the fire/ashes, and hence maybe secondary. But maybe a distinction ought to be made.

    If the Sanskrit reading is correct, ri dwags me mdag mi za zhing || seems to be a mis-reading (probably based on a mis-understanding of the idea). By the way, the reading ri dwags mes dag me za zhing || reminds me very much of Rong-zom-pa’s reference to a certain creature called ri dwags me’i gtsang sbra can. Now I think that Kambala’s Ālokamālā (or something similar) might have been a direct or indirect source for Rong-zom-pa’s allusion to that strange creature. In my view, his me’i gtsang sbra can seems to be a much better and closer rendering of the Sanskrit agniśauca, which he, by the way, understood it to be a bahuvrīhi compound. That “animal which is characterised by the purity of fire” is supposed to live in fire and live on fire.

    At any rate, it is highly interesting. I shall have to ask you more on this.

    Thanks again, and best.