Zhang-zhung-Tibetan-English Contextual Dictionary, Dagkar Namgyal Nyima, 2003

Zhang-zhung-Tibetan-English Contextual Dictionary, Dagkar Namgyal Nyima, 2003.

   Bon and Buddhism are by far the two most important religions of Tibet. The followers of Bon, known as Bonpos, claim that Zhang-zhung (both the country and its language) was the immediate source of the Bon religion that was subsequently transmitted to Tibet. Hence, the study of Zhang-zhung must be considered a prerequisite for tracing back the history of Bon religion, which for Bonpo scholars is a very crucial subject. At the same time this study might also be beneficial for other scholars working in the fields of Indian, Tibetan and Himalayan studies. There are various lines of reasoning that could demonstrate how the study of Zhang-zhung is connected with all three of these fields of study. Although not very well known, over many centuries important connections have been maintained between Indian religious leaders and the region of Zhang-zhung. Figuring very highly in this connection are certain geographic features of Upper Zhang-zhung, namely, the mountain called Kailash (or Ti-se) and Lake Manasarowar.

Zhang-zhung-Tibetan-English Contextual Dictionary, Dagkar Namgyal Nyima, 2003

Zhang-zhung: the clan, the country, the language and the script.
More and more people are aware these days that the name Zhang-zhung belongs not only to a country of considerable size and significance in the history of the Tibetan Plateau, but also to the language that was spoken there and to a number of scripts that are sometimes used for writing that language. In this introduction we will begin by looking in some detail at the meaning of the language name, followed by a discussion of the internal geography of the country along with some words about the dialects of Zhang-zhung language. Then we will make a comparison of Zhang-zhung language vocabulary with both Sanskrit and Tibetan vocabulary in an attempt to come to conclusions about the nature of the historical relationships between these languages.

Although this is not widely known, the language name Zhang-zhung is itself a meaningful term in the Zhang-zhung language. It is not Tibetan. However, if one were to translate its two syllables from Zhang-zhung into Tibetan, the zhang would correspond to Tibetan lung-pa (“land” or “country”), while the zhung is Zhang-zhung for the Tibetan khyung (which may stand either for the mythical khyung bird or for the dan named Khyung). Hence, Zhang-zhung means “Land of Khyung”.

The Drang-don mun-sel sgron-ma (p. 540.3) says, “Zhang-zhung, the land of the Khyung-po” (zhang zhung gis [gi] yul khyung po'i lung pa). This quotation suggests that the zhung, Tibetan khyung, in the name Zhang-zhung ought to be understood as the clan Khyung, since members of the Khyung clan would be called Khyung-po. Since this is a very important point, I would like to bring forward more evidence and arguments for this interpretation.

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