Welcome to

Tibetan Calligraphy, Part 2

A Wisdom Academy Online Course with Tashi Mannox

About this Course

This course builds on our first Tibetan calligraphy course with Tashi Mannox. In this course, Tashi will teach you “combination letters,” where letters are superscribed or joined together. You’ll also learn about punctuation marks, which is helpful if you’re learning to compose words and sentences, or if you’re learning to read Tibetan. Along the way, Tashi will share more of his tips and tricks for improving your penmanship, building on what was covered in part 1. You’ll also learn important principles for correctly forming the letters, including how to have the right proportions, as well as the names of each letter and how to pronounce them correctly. We conclude the course by learning how to write the Mani mantra, as well as the meaning of the letters and the mantra itself.

Photo of Tashi Mannox is © Luke Townsend.



Lesson 1 : Six Reversed Syllables (Logyig) and Five HA-Subscribed Syllables (Hatag)

In this first lesson, we continue the adventure that we started with Tashi Mannox in Tibetan Calligraphy, Part 1. Tashi begins the course by discussing numerous key points around general penmanship and the specifics of Tibetan letter formation. He then covers the various reversed syllables (i.e., ཊ་, ཋ་, ཌ་, ཎ་, ཥ་, ཀྵ་) and syllables formed using a subscribed HA (i.e., གྷ་, ཛྷ་, ཌྷ་, དྷ་, བྷ་). In this first lesson, you’ll already be moving several steps closer to mastery of the Tibetan script.


Lesson 2: Seven YA-Subscribed Syllables (Yatag)

Tashi presents a step-by-step guide on how to form each of the seven Tibetan syllables with a subscribed YA attached (i.e., ཀྱ་, ཁྱ་, གྱ་, པྱ་, ཕྱ་, བྱ་, མྱ་). You’ll learn how to pronounce each syllable with its correct tone and aspiration and how to keep each syllable properly proportioned within its allocated writing space.


Lesson 3: Fourteen RA-Subscribed Syllables (Ratag)

Tashi describes in detail each stroke involved in writing the fourteen Tibetan syllables formed with a subscribed RA (i.e., ཀྲ་, ཁྲ་, གྲ་, ཏྲ་, ཐྲ་, དྲ་, ནྲ་, པྲ་, ཕྲ་, བྲ་, མྲ་, ཤྲ་, སྲ་, ཧྲ་). You’ll learn not only how to pronounce these syllables with the appropriate tone and aspiration but also how to form them with the correct proportions. 


Lesson 4: Twelve RA-Superscribed Syllables (Rango) and Ten LA-Superscribed Syllables (Lango)

Tashi covers the formation and pronunciation of the sets of syllables superscribed with RA (i.e., རྐ་, རྒ་, རྔ་, རྗ་, རྙ་, རྟ་, རྡ་, རྣ་, རྦ་, རྨ་, རྩ་, རྫ་) and LA (i.e., ལྐ་, ལྒ་, ལྔ་, ལྕ་, ལྗ་, ལྟ་, ལྡ་, ལྤ་, ལྦ་, ལྷ་). You’ll learn how to draw each stroke of these syllables as well as how to adjust their dimensions in the context of specific examples, including words with a subscribed YA or the “shabkyu” vowel mark (i.e., ཞབས་ཀྱུ་) below.


Lesson 5: Eleven SA-Superscribed Syllables (Sango)

Tashi gives clear instructions on how to form and pronounce each of the eleven syllables with a superscribed SA (i.e., སྐ་, སྒ་, སྔ་, སྙ་, སྟ་, སྡ་, སྣ་, སྤ་, སྦ་, སྨ་, སྩ་). You’ll learn how to apply these types of syllables to a range of examples including YA-subscribed and RA-subscribed constructions.


Lesson 6: Six LA-Subscribed Syllables (Latag) and Twelve WA-Subscribed Syllables (Watag)

Tashi leads us on a thorough exploration of how to write and pronounce the Tibetan syllables formed with subscribed LA (i.e., ཀླ་, གླ་, བླ་, ཟླ་, རླ་, སླ་) and WA (i.e., ཀྭ་, ཁྭ་, གྭ་, ཉྭ་, དྭ་, ཚྭ་, ཞྭ་, ཟྭ་, རྭ་, ལྭ་, ཤྭ་, ཧྭ་) symbols. You’ll learn how to properly draw such syllables in the presence of the “shabkyu” vowel mark, the superscribed RA, and other additions.


Lesson 7: Key Punctuation and Transliteration Symbols

Tashi steps away from discussing specific syllables to introduce the principal punctuation marks employed in Tibetan, such as syllable delimiters (ཚེག་), sentence/clause breaks (ཤད་), and marks indicating repeated fragments (བསྡུས་རྟགས་). You’ll also learn important symbols used in the transliteration of original Sanskrit into Tibetan, such as in the case of sacred Buddhist mantras.


Lesson 8: Writing the Mani Mantra of Avalokiteshvara

As the culmination of all that he has taught thus far, Tashi summarizes how to form and pronounce each syllable of the “mani” mantra (OM MANI PEME HUNG) as well as which objects of abandonment each syllable of the mantra helps purify. He also introduces the phonetics of the entire Sanskrit alphabet in the context of the speech purification practice. With this concluding lesson, you’ll have advanced significantly on the path of learning Tibetan Calligraphy.

About the Teacher

Born to a Buddhist family in the United Kingdom, Tashi Mannox first took notice of the Tibetan language at about the age of 13, when he spent time with two Tibetan Lamas. At the age of 22, Tashi himself took the precepts of a Buddhist monk. Being artistically inclined, he developed his Tibetan writing skills while working as a scribe. This labor of devotion and discipline honed his skills, not just in the classical Uchen script, but the many other Tibetan script styles. His teachers in Tibetan calligraphy include H.E. Tai Situ Rinpoche and Akong Tulku Rinpoche, and he has studied Lantsa Sanskrit with Lama Pema Lodrup of Dharmsala. Since leaving his monastic lifestyle, Tashi has continued working in the preservation and conservation of the Tibetan writing systems. In response to an ever-growing interest in Tibetan Calligraphy, he teaches master classes and lectures worldwide, including at Oxford University and the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City. In recent years, Tashi was invited to help re-establish the (Tibetan) Bhutanese calligraphy tradition to the kingdom’s educational and monastic institutions. The Khenpo of the central monastic body of Bhutan gave Tashi the honored title of Ambassador of Bhutanese Calligraphy. Tashi is now recognized as one of the world’s foremost contemporary Tibetan calligraphers and dharma artists, exhibiting his masterpieces internationally, including at the Moscow Calligraphy Museum, the Sharjah Calligraphy Museum in the United Arab Emirates, and the World Calligraphy Biennale of Jeollabuk-do in South Korea. Tashi is also the author of Sacred Scripts, which was endorsed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.