March 04, 2012

ཤ་སྟག །

sha stag:

“Meat tiger” (sha stag) has nothing to do with “meat” or “tiger” but simply means “only, nothing but.” Is “meat tiger” really its etymology and how can we explain it? Although there is no support whatsoever, could it be that actually sha stag represents an ahistorical orthography and that the right orthography should have been sha dag, where dag is to be interpreted in the same way as in the case of mtha’ dag. That is, so to speak: sha dag = “pure/free/devoid of meat” = “bare bones” = “only.” The speculation is getting too wild.


  1. You've got me thinking strange thoughts again! Would some connection to the me-stag word that means 'sparks' come in here? Do you understand this to mean 'fire tiger' or 'fire [something else]'?

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  3. Dear Dan,

    Thanks. I remember Mi-pham saying (from memory): tshig la ’chel na tshig mtha’ yas || rnam rtog ma zad bar du ’phel ||. A single word often seems to lend wings to our phantasy. As I indicated under our entry me stag, although me stag is said to be called so because of the similarity of burning embers and a tiger (in terms of shapes/stripes and colour), one may have to consider the possibility that stag in me stag does not mean “tiger” at all but mdag (me mdag or mdag ma) “hot ash or charcoal.” But what about the sha stag case? Would it, too, be sha mdag? This makes so sense. Had there been an archaic meaning of mdag, which we no longer know? I am afraid there are more questions than we can answer.

    Take care.