Here some additional informations about the many Bön scripts. Remarkable would be that these scripts stem from before the 7th century.
If possible i will illustrate the scripts in the nearby future to make it all more clear how these scripts are written.
The Marchen script.
This is a Brahmic script used in the Tibetan Bön tradition to write the extinct Zhang-zhung language used in some Bön texts. In modern use it is also used to write the Tibetan language. 4 other related Bön scripts are also discussed.
The Marchen script is one of several related scripts that have been used in the Tibetan Bön tradition:
- Marchen or Greater Mar script (Tibetan sMar-chen )
- Marchung or Lesser Mar script (Tibetan sMar-chung )
- Pungchen or Greater Pung script (Tibetan sPungs-chen )
- Pungchung or Lesser Pung script (Tibetan sPungs-chung )
- Drusha script (Tibetan Bru-sha ཤ)
Various other esoteric Bön scripts, known as lha-bab yi-ge "letters of descended gods", are known, but these are not widely used, and are not discussed in this document.
The Marchen and Marchung Script
The Marchen and Marchung scripts reputedly originated from the ancient kingdom of Zhang-zhung that flourished in the western and northern parts of Tibet before the introduction of Buddhism into the country during the 7th century. The word smar means "good", "happy" or "beautiful" in the Zhang-zhung language, and thus the script names mean the Greater and Lesser Beautiful Scripts.
The Marchen script is quite different to both the Tibetan and Lantsa scripts (except for the subjoined forms of the letters Wa, Ya and Ra, which are similar to the corresponding Tibetan letters), and has few similarities with Marchung or the other Bön scripts. One peculiarity of the script is the prominence of the left-facing svasti sign, the symbol of the Bön religion, which occurs in the headmark and the letter Nya.
There are few known examples of the Marchen script used in pre-modern texts, but this script is quite widely used in modern Bön literature and in architectural inscriptions. One of the earliest known examples of the Marchen script is an inscription in the Zhang-zhung language on a bronze seal held at the Menri Monastery / Dolanji
The Marchung script seems to be related to both the standard Tibetan dbu-can script and the Drusha script. Whereas most Marchung letters are quite similar in form to the corresponding Tibetan letter, but dissimilar to the letters of the Drusha script, the 4 vowel signs of the Marchung script are identical to those used in the Drusha script. A further similarity between the Marchung and Drusha scripts is the hook-shaped tsheg sign that joins to the right-hand side of the final letter in a syllable, which is the same in both scripts. These features suggest that the Marchung script is a hybrid, with letterforms based on the Tibetan script, but with
vowel signs and the appended tsheg mark borrowed from the Drusha script.
The Pungchen, Pungchung and Drusha Scripts
The Pungchen and Pungchung scripts reputedly originated from the legendary kingdom of Tagzig (Tibetan sTag gZig(s) to the west of Zhang-zhung (Tagzig is thought to represent Tajik, an ancient name for Persia, known as Dashi 大食 in Chinese), which was said to be the original home of Tönpa Shenrab, the Buddha-like founder of the Bön religion. The word pung means "teacher" in the Zhang-zhung language, refering specifically to the Great Teacher Tönpa Shenrab, and thus the script names mean Greater and Lesser Scripts of the Teacher.
The Drusha script reputedly originated from the country of Drusha (Tibetan Bru-sha or Bru-zha or Bru-tsha ), which is commonly identified with Gilgit in Pakistan.
These 3 scripts are all very similar, and would seem to be closely related. There is a strong similarity between them and the Lantsa script, which is commonly used in Tibet for writing Sanskrit. Several Pungchung letters are virtually identical to the corresponding Lantsa letterform (e.g. Pa, Pha, Ma and La, and note also Pungchen letter Sa which is exactly identical ).
However, there are some interesting differences between the Pung scripts and Lantsa, for example the vowel sign "i" is on the left in Lantsa but on the right in the Pung and Drusha scripts, and the Pungchen and Pungchung scripts (but not Drusha) have a peculiar corkscrew-shaped "o" vowel sign.
The Pungchung letters are basically the same as Pungchen letters, with some minor stylistic differences (for example the stroke that forms the head of the letter is straight in the Pungchen script but bends down to the left in most letters of the Pungchung script; and the final vertical stroke found in many letters joins smoothly to the main body of the letter in the Pungchen script but is joined with an oblique stroke in the Pungchung script). Thus, the Pungchen and Pungchung scripts can be considered variants of the same script. However, there are very few examples of either script, and they do not seem to be in current use.
The letters of the Drusha script are also mostly very similar to those of the Pungchen script, but there are some letters (e.g. the letters Nya, Ya and Sa) that do differ significantly from the corresponding letterform in the Pungchen script. Furthermore, whilst the vowel signs for "i" and "e" are the same as for Pungchen and Pungchung, the vowel signs for "u" and "o" are not : the vowel sign for "o" is the same as the corresponding sign used in the Marchen and Marchung scripts; and the vowel sign for "u" is similar but not quite identical to the corresponding sign used in the Marchen and Marchung scripts. The letters of the Drusha script also have a conjoined hook-shaped tsheg mark, as is the case with the Marchung script.
THOUGH A MAN BE LEARNED
IF HE DOES NOT APPLY HIS KNOWLEDGE
HE RESEMBLES THE BLIND MAN
WHO WITH A LAMP IN THE HAND CANNOT SEE THE ROAD