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Indian scripts in Tibet

As a matter of fact there are only few people in the world who can read or write Lantsha- and Vartu-script and even fewer who have experience and expert knowledge of the Bon Smar-script and the different kinds of Zhang-zhung scripts.

This web-site is an attempt at a short and well-founded introduction into the exciting and thrilling world of the ancient and divine scripts used by Buddhist monks in India and Tibet in the 11th century .

The charts of fonts displayed as a gallery on the next page explain the nuances:
Common belief is that most Buddhist Sanskrit manuscripts of the 11th century are written in Ranjana. But that is not the case. The importance of the Nepalese Ranjana is well known, but for Buddhist tradition the diversification and development from Ranjana into the Lantsha and Vartu script is more important. Although Ranjana and Lantsha are often described as similar there is a large amount of variation at the detailed script level.

Both scripts, Lantsha and Vartu, became the fundamental vehicle of Buddhist textual tradition. Lantsha script not only acts as a binding force for the Buddhist community, but what is more important these signs are a distinct mark of identification in mantras and Buddhist texts. For example the Buddhist Mahayana text in Lantsha was transferred from India to Tibetan monasteries.

In some monasteries and other traditional places translators developed their own scripts out of the Brahmi scripts similar to Lantsha and Vartu and used these scripts to transcribe Tibetan written thoughts and commentaries to expand the literature at those holy places. Calligraphy of all the developed scripts became a meditating point for the Buddhist monks and spiritual education in Tibetan monasteries. Up to now these scripts have considerable influence on the aesthetic and intellectual achievement of Buddhist society and culture.

In the Nyingma tradition, the oldest Buddhist school, exist some other scripts named "terma scripts" or "dakini scripts". You arre invieted to make a short virtual excursion through this wide range of exciting calligraphy of dakini scripts. Read more and click a new special web-site.


The activity and intention of this website exists in order to visualize these symboli scripts and to open up these treasuries of zhe artistic gifts to the entire public.

Years ago the Quinghai National Press published some pages i n an old Tibetan block styled script. Look at a new web-site.


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Ali-kali bijaharam (Sanskrit) Lantsha has the same 5 types of consonant groups and the same 14 vowels and in addition two "diac...


Vowels Each vowel has two forms, an independent form - when not part of a consonant - and a dependent f...


Conjuncts Consonant clusters are formed by putting two signs or more ( up to 5 ) closely together, forming ...


Gallery of common Conjuncts Click on a consonant picture and see : A list of all the Lantsha conjuncts which are "still in u...


Gallery Conjuncts & Vowels Click on a consonant picture and see : A list of Lantsha conjuncts with vowels attached [PDF Fil...


Mantras (Kutaksyar) Kutaksyar are popular buddhist mantras written in a monogram form. In a very condensed and convol...


Marks, other signs, bijas Move mouse over picture and click, see a list of Lantsha marks, bijas [PDF File, use Adobe Reader...



samples Vartu-clusters please click picture to view sample gallery of vartu-clusters with consonant ka [PDF File, use ...

Vartu clusters Click on a consonant picture and see : A list of all the Vartu conjuncts which are "still in use...

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Gallery of scripts

Lantsha script

Lantsha 2

Vartu script

Vartu 2

Lantsha vice versa Vartu

Ranjana script

Smar script

Monastery scripts



Facts about fonts

Contact us

e-mail: georg.fischer@chello.at

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