Illuminated Iconographic Tibetan Calligraphy

Terma Motif

Chinese ink and mineral paint on Bhutanese tsasho bark fiber paper soaked in vermilion orange Japanese ink, 35 x 52 cm, 2017

According to the vision of Terton Taksham Nuden Dorje, the two circles of the Terma Motif symbolise ‘means’ ཐབས་ and ‘wisdom’ or ‘knowledge’ ཤེས་རབ་. The crescent moon between them represents their indivisible unity ཟུང་དུ་འཇུག་པ།. The ter-tseg used as a punctuation mark can also be written as just two ཿ circles without the crescent moon, such as in Terma manuscripts from Mindrol Ling.

The image of two small circles and a crescent moon shape ༔ is known in Tibetan as a ter-tseg གཏེར་ཚེག་. When used as a punctuation mark at the end of a line of text or mantra, it tells us that the origin of the mantra or manuscript is a spiritual treasure called a Terma གཏེར་མ. Such treasure were hidden by Guru Rinpoche or Yeshe Tsogyal for the benefit of future generations.

This particular art-piece is currently on show at a solo exhibition with Amankora, Bhutan.


Terma Motif - Tibetan Calligraphy