*Tibetan Alphabet In order
*Tibetan Alphabet Scrambled
During the 7th Century AD Songstem Gampo (569-649AD), the 33rd king of the Yarlung Dynasty of southern Tibet and the first Emperor of Tibet, sent Thonmi Sambhota, one of his ministers, to India to gather information on Buddhism. The minister then reputedly devised a script for Tibetan based on the Devanagari model and also wrote a grammar of Tibetan based on Sanskrit grammars.
The new Tibetan alphabet was used to write Tibetan translations of Buddhists texts. The first Sanskrit-Tibetan dictionary, Mahavyutpatti, appeared in the 9th century. Wood block printing, introduced from China, was used in Tibet from an early date and is still used in a few monasteries.
Tibetan literature is mainly concerned with Buddhist themes and includes works translated from Sanskrit and Chinese and original Tibetan works. There are also literary works about the Bon religion, a pre-Buddhist religion indigenous to Tibet. The most unusual genre of Tibetan literature is that of gter-ma or 'rediscovered' texts - reputedly the work of ancient masters which have been hidden in remote caves for many centuries.
- The Tibetan alphabet is syllabic, like many of the alphabets of India and South East Asia. Each letter has an inherent vowel /a/. Other vowels can be indicated using a variety of diacritics which appear above or below the main letter.
- Syllables are separated by a dot.
- Consonant clusters are written with special conjunct letters.
Used to write:
Tibetan, a Sino-Tibetan language spoken by about 6 million people in China (Tibet, Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan), India, Bhutan, Sikkim, Ladakh and Nepal. In Mongolia Tibetan is considered the Classical language of Buddhism and was widely taught until quite recently.
Before 1949-50, Tibet comprised of three provinces: Amdo, now split between the Qinghai, Gansu and Sichuan provinces; Kham, now largely incorporated into the provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan and Qinghai, and U-Tsang, which, together with western Kham, is now known as the Tibet Autonomous Region, which was created in 1965.
The Tibetan alphabet
The form of the alphabet shown below, known as u-chen is used for printing. Cursive versions of the alphabet, such as the gyuk yig or 'flowing script' are used for informal writing.
This table includes the standard consonant combinations used for native Tibetan words. It does not include other combinations found in common loan words or the thousands of combinations used for transliterating Sanskrit words in religious texts.
Punctuation and other symbols
Download a Tibetan alphabet chart in Excel, Word or PDF format
Sample text - Tibetan: u-chen script)
Sample text - Tibetan (རྒྱུག་ཡིག་: gyuk yig script)
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
Useful phrases in Tibetan
Tibetan language courses, dictionaries and other materials
Tibetan script for Sanskrit
These are the Tibetan letters used to write Sanskrit. Some of them are not used in Tibetan.
Information about the Tibetan language and alphabet
Online Tibetan lessons
Currently researching other sites!
Nitartha international - Tibetan software and online dictionary
Languages and dialects of Tibet
The Tibetan language Institute - teaches Tibetan in Hamilton, Montana, USA
Online Tibetan language news and radio
Tibetan fonts and software
Tibetan & Himalayan Digital Library (THDL)
Tibetan Government in Exile's Official Web Site (includes information on Tibetan language and culture): http://www.tibet.com
Khagyun: Stories from the Tibetan Diaspora