Bill Mak bill.m.mak at gmail.com
Fri May 13 15:05:32 UTC 2022

Dear colleagues,

A colleague working on Yunnan Sanskrit inscription showed me an ink rubbing recently (15th century?) and I noted the impossible character āṃḥ (middle of the three bīja letters in the attached image). This character is well known in the Japanese esoteric tradition and there are some scanty references to it in works by Ōna <https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jeb1947/1968/85/1968_85_16/_pdf/-char/ja> and recently Rambelli and Dolce <https://brill.com/view/book/edcoll/9789004306523/B9789004306523_009.xml>. When I asked Prof. Kojima Giryū who specialises in Siddham characters some years ago, I was given the impression that this might have been a Japanese innovation. So it is interesting to find this in the Yunnan corpus as well. I am curious if anyone knows of any discussion about this impossible character in Sanskrit literature, especially in non-Buddhist Indian sources.

I also wonder if anyone knows anything about the “sthrīṃ” letter (first one from left). Someone in China collected a variety of specimens using this character, suggesting that it may have some significance in the Esoteric Buddhist tradition in Yunnan: https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/FIkJktzIBIxXWf7swCL2QA <https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/FIkJktzIBIxXWf7swCL2QA>

Best regards,


Bill M. Mak, PhD

Jao Tsung-I Petite Ecole 饒宗頤學術館
Tang Chi Ngong Building
The University of Hong Kong
Pokfulam, Hong Kong

Tel: +852-39174384
Email: bmpmak at hku.hk <mailto:bmpmak at hku.hk>

Research Associate
Needham Research Institute
8 Sylvester Road
Cambridge, CB3 9AF
United Kingdom

Email: bm574 at cam.ac.uk

copies of my publications may be found at:
http://www.billmak.com <http://www.billmak.com/>

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