April 01, 2012


phyi mo “master-copy” (upon which new/later copies are directly based)
Often the expression “x gyi phyi mo” (“master-copy of x”) is used, or, “x phyi mor byas/bzung/bcol nas/te/ste,” that is, “by taking x as its master-copy.”  ’Jigs-med-dbang-po, Co ne’i bstan dkar (p. 444).
ma phyi = phyi mo
Bod.rgya (s.vv.).  
ma dpe “master-copy”
Bod.rgya (s.vv. ma dpe, ’dra dpe). 
bu dpe “offspring-copy”
’Jigs-med-dbang-po, Co ne’i bstan dkar (p. 445.14); Bod.rgya (s.v.)
 rgya dpe (usually) “Sanskrit MS”

 bod dpe?

bsdur gzhi “the main version followed when collating several versions/editions” (neologism)
Ngag-dbang-nor-bu, gSer bris bstan ’gyur dkar chag (p. 17).


  1. There's a typo: lha bkros pa “carver of deity figures”

    Switch the 'r' and 'k' around.

    Great list of manuscript/book terms! I'll try to see if I can come up with more some day.

    Doesn't lcags par just mean something printed with metal type?

  2. Dear Dorji,

    This is a very useful list, thank you very much for sharing it!
    Under “Types of Copies” one might add the term rgya dpe which is sometimes used when reference is made to readings/variants from an Indian (manuscript) witness.
    Perhaps one should include the variant spelling of par, namely dpar (“printing block”). dpar, spar and par also leave room for some etymological speculations. While Laufer traced back par to a Chinese form, Robert Shafer rejected this for reasons you can read in his “Words for ‘Printing Block’ and the Origin of Printing,” JAOS, 80(4), 1960, 328-329, and considered dpar to be the older form of the two. Walter Simon has subsequently pointed out (“Tibetan par, dpar, spar, and Cognate Words”, BSOAS, 25, 1962, pp. 72-80) that this is not the case, and that both dpar and spar are derivatives of par as attested in Dunhuang materials. These two articles might be useful additions to your bibliography on etymology. Shafer even speculated whether the term for printing-block might not have reached China from Tibet instead of vice versa! It consequently led him to propose that printing might have been invented in Tibet! It seems that this idea has subsequently attracted very little attention, what a shame….
    In the context of par perhaps add par byang (“printing colophon”) somewhere in your list.

    I think the shing bzo might simply be referred to as the “carpenter”, as that’s what these “wood-workers” are called, aren’t they?

    What exactly do you have in mind for gdong ston at the very end of the list? Do you take it as a meaning the front page of a folio (recto, get rid of the -r- there)? Something like the opposite of rgyab (“verso”) which occurs in marginal pagination abbreviated to ba? My understanding of “recto” would be mdun (abbreviated to na).

    If you ever wanted to add technical terms related to the carving of blocks, e.g. carving tools made by the blacksmith (lcags bzo dbu lags, not an unimportant role in the printing business, I think) and other materials, see Corneille Jest, “A Technical Note on the Tibetan Method of Block-carving,” Man, 61, pp. 83-85.

    There appears to be some sort of hierarchy amongst the carvers similar to Zhu-chen’s classes of scribes, with the par rkos dbu mdzad (“head carver”) coming first, followed by his dbu chung. There are also dedicated “miniature carvers” (dbu lha brko mi).
    I read this in Manfred Taube’s “Zur Herstellung tibetischer Drucke in Peking,” Wissenschaftliche Zeitschrift, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Gesellschafts- und sprachwissenschaftliche Reihe, 22(3), 1973, pp. 67-75, where he refers to a dGa’ ldan phun tshogs gling print of a Vinaya commentary involving more than thirty carvers of different ranks. Taube seems to think (p. 69) that your dbu lha ’bri mi works to assist the dbu lha brko mi. I suppose the former sketches the deities on the wood for the latter to carve them.

    Concerning your section on the different scripts, Dpa’ ris sangs rgyas’ Bod yig ’bri tshul mthong ba kun smon (Beijing: Mi rigs dpe skrun khang, 1997), contains a classification of Tibetan scripts, perhaps you have seen it (“Yig gzugs nang gses kyi dbye ba dang bsdu ba’i re’u mig”):


    I. gzab ma
    1. gzab chen - dbu can - yig dkar
    2. gzab chung - dbu med - dpe tshugs

    II. ’bru ma
    1. ’bru chen - sug ring - a. zlum bris / b. dpe bris / c. dkyus ma
    2. ’bru chung - a. sug thung / b. ’bru tsha

    III. gshar ma
    1. bar bris
    2. dkyus yig - a. rgyugs bris / b. ’khyugs bris
    (dkyus yig = ’phrin yig)

    Everything down from gzab chung (I.2) is classified as yig nag to contrast it from dbu can (=yig dkar).

    Dpa’ ris sangs rgyas’ book also contains a good deal of information on skung yig, the topic of your previous post.

    All the best,


  3. Dear Arno,

    Many thanks for taking a look at my chaos and sandbox and for making many suggestions. Yes, I am aware of dPa'-ris's and other similar works but simply did not have the time to proceed in a orderly fashion. But let us see how I sort out my mess here.