March 27, 2012


According to dGe-chos, Thon-mi created the following seven letters: ཙ་ཚ་ཛ་ཝ་ཞ་ཟ་འ།. According to him, all of these seven letters were initially marked with a hook called “tsa-limb” (tsa lag) or “tsa-sign” (tsa rtags), which can be seen even in ཝ་ཞ་ཟ་འ་ in some archaic writings. As for ཝ, it is not a combination of ལ and བ but of འ and བ. Why does the superscript in ཝ look like ལ? Actually it is not ལ at all but འ with a hook (dGe.chos-1: 268.1–271.3).


  1. Shouldn't rtsa lag be spelled tsa lag. Rtsa lag means 'kindred' (Skt. bandhu), relative, supporter. Although I can see that they may have been confused with each other in the past here and there. Does Dge-chos use this spelling?

  2. Oh, sorry, I now realise that you referred to a typo in the text. That is, in one case, I had rtsa lag where it should be tsa lag. Of course. I meant tsa lag.

  3. Yes, dGe-chos does spell it tsa lag and I think it should be so, insofar as it means “hand of the letter tsa (i.e. the first letter with a raised “arm”) and not rtsa lag (genealogical) “root-and-shoot” (rtsa ba dang yan lag). One could say that tsa lag is a genitive tatpuruṣa whereas rtsa lag a dvaṃdva. Anyway I suspect that tsa lag/rtags is an obscure term rarely used that only people like dGe-chos might have known. At least it was not known to me before until I saw dGe-chos’s allusion to it. On the other hand, I would assume that most scholars were aware of rtsa lag.