Here is yet another expression sna’i bya gshog gi gshongs, particularly the word gshongs, that Yael is pondering about, which again provides me with a chance to speculate. The expression occurs in Mi-la-ras-pa’s biography. Mi-la is here describing the man whom he saw in the field and who turned out to be Mar-pa himself.
In general, shong (also spelt shongs) and gshong (also spelt gshongs) mean, as already recorded by Jäschke, two opposite things, namely, (a) “ridge” (or “bulge”) and (b) “valley” (or “dent/furrow”). Now the question is which of the two possible meanings is meant in this given context? Does gshongs of the “[two] nasal wings (lit. bird-wings)” (sna’i bya gshog) in this given context refer to (a) “nasal ridge or bridge (Dosum),” (b) “nasal wings (Alar)” themselves, (c) “nostrils,” (d) “tip,” or (e) Septum? Let us rule out “tip” and “wings” because if these were meant we would expect the text to specify as sna’i rtse mo or only as sna’i bya gshog. If “nostrils” proper (i.e. nasal holes) have been meant, would we not expect the text to state sna’i bu ga? We may have to follow Jäschke, who, by the way, cites the same expression from Mi-la’s biography, and thus understand sna’i bya gshog gi gshongs as “cavities near the wings of the nose.” So one cannot contribute much to Jäschke, can one? The important point in the context is that the nasal cavities stained with soil must be visible from outside.
Now a speculation on a different level: The two meanings of shong(s) or gshong(s) mentioned above must be somehow related, but how? How come that shong(s)/gshong(s) can be a “ridge or “elevated plain” or “valley or a furrow.” I dare speculate that these words and their meaning have been derived from the verb shong ba (Jäschke 1881: s.v.), which means “to go in” or “to have room in or on.” In my words, shong ba would be “to fit in spatially” and anything, be it a table-land or a valley, that is capable of spatially accommodating something came to be called shong(s)/gshong(s).
Perhaps gshang ba (“to excrete”) and gshang (“excretion” or “feces” as in gshang gci), and gshang lam (“anus”) presuppose the meaning of shong(s)/gshong(s) as a “furrow” or “canal.” Or why not vice versa?