New Publication: The Origin of the Headless Script (dbu med) in Tibet

A new collection of articles, Tibeto-Burman Languages IV, edited by Nathan Hill, is just out. Here you will find studies of fascinating languages such as Mon, Nam, Lepcha, Pyu, Tangut, and of course Tibetan. The collection also contains my study of the development of the “headless” script in Tibet. Traditionally it has been said that the headed (dbu med) and headless (dbu can) scripts were invented during the seventh century based on two different Indian scripts. In this article I argue, based on an extensive survery of the earliest examples of Tibetan writing, on rock, wood and paper, that the headless script was a later development from the headed script. This can be shown to have happened through principles of “cursivization” seen in scripts all over the world. Click here to download the article.