April 04, 2012

x + དྭགས།

x + dwags:

I am just wondering about the etymology of dwags. In addition to Dwags-po, name of a place in Tibet, we have not many words ending in dwags. Here are a few examples:
1. ri dwags
2. lung dwags (dGe.chos-2: 101)
3. g.yung dwags
4. yi dwags
5. bla dwags
6. la dwags

Could it be that “x + dwags” means “that which abides in x”?


  1. But D, Isn't that wa-corner there because it needs to be kept distinct from an identically spelled word? (Like for distinguishing the words for veins and grass.) Well, I hear what you're saying... Maybe not, since it may just be there to disambiguate the ming-gzhi. I mean we might want to read dgas instead of dags, which we surely could if we were inclined to do that. But the wa stops us.

    I was always thinking that there is some kind of 'purified' meaning in it, relating it to 'dag-pa and dag-pa. Maybe it's related to the word for orphan? Maybe connected to some form of the verb 'dogs-pa (this could work for bla-dwags, I suppose). Really, I give up completely. For now.

    Didn't someone ever speculate about the meaning of the name of Ladakh? It's hard to imagine this hasn't been done (I mean, much speculation has gone into explaining the name of Amdo! Why not do the same for Ladakh?).

    Time to go buy bread for the holidays!


  2. At this juncture I am open to any speculation. The idea that dwags could be related to dags and dag seems appealing. But still when we think of the compounds such as ri dwags the meaning of “purified” does not seem quite convincing. It seems to suggest that “(herbivorous) wild animal” is a creature that dwags (“?”) or is dwags in the highland (ri).” So what could dwags here mean?

    The speculation of the name la dwags is unknown to me. dGe-chos, by the way, spells it bla dwags (if I am not mistaken). But it may also be a scribal error.

    We will have to keep pondering over it.



  3. I have seen popular speculation that la dwags as something like "land of the passes (la)"
    that which abides in passes works.

    But what about yi dvags? Could it be yid dvags? But that doesn't seem very convincing to me.

    Mike Essex

  4. Dear Mike,

    Thank you for your comment and thoughts.

    One would assume that yi in yid dwags had once been yid. Cf. also yi rang/s. But about the etymology of yi dwags? Perhaps “a being which exists/abides/dwells [only in the form of] mind.” We shall have to recall that Tibetans rendered the Sanskrit preta as yi dwags and it, in Sanskrit, is said to mean “the spirit of a dead person (especially before obsequial rites are performed), a ghost” (MW, s.v.). People thus often translate yi dwags as “hungry ghost” and it is not at all bad.