In times gone by, musk was the most popular Tibetan product in the whole world. Now that the musk deer is considered endangered it’s been replaced by synthetics, so much so that now Tibet’s biggest money maker is Buddhism, which seems to be facing the same fate. The Mongolian is kuderi, and the Tibetan borrowing of it gives it Tibetanizing spellings that make it seem to mean family of healthy bodies, but using very honorable language. Why would Tibetans ever think to borrow yet another word when they already had such a perfect one of their own for it, gla-ba? I have no idea.
Gang-zag is a tricky word, since its usual meaning is person (Sanskrit pudgala), not pipe.
I know I once claimed that sbe-ka had something to do with the Sanskrit word for frog, and now all of a sudden I’m contradicting myself finding an Old Mongolian origin for it in a word for wrestler. I admit I was probably wrong, although come to think of it I could have been right. More on the frog below.
You may well wonder what metal ingots might have to do with whole animal pelts. Well, even if you weren’t wondering: In ancient times in the Middle East and elsewhere, there was a practice of pouring molten metal into whole animal skins immersed in water. The result would be an ingot with four short legs that made the very heavy objects a lot easier to for two people to handle.
Emchi is nowadays a most common Tibetan word for physician, entirely suitable for addressing your doctor in person. Goldstein's dictionary even records the spelling em-rje, one of those cute Tibetanizing spellings since the 2nd syllable means lord, making it all that much more respectful.
I imagine all, or at least most, of these loanwords from Mongolian entered Tibetan during the time of the Mongolian Empire and not before. I doubt you will find any of them in the Dunhuang documents or other pre-Mongol period sources, but you can test this for yourself at the OTDO.
Here is a photo of a horse-hair thug, a traumatic symbol of Mongolian terror in the late 12th-13th centuries that we mentioned in an earlier blog. Still today, Tibetans use it to mark the location of gönkhang chapels where fear is (ideally) taken onto the Path.
|The Tibetan words here are, to transcribe them into Wylie, in order: khol-po, cog, chu-ba (or phyu-ba), 'cham, thug, sbal-kha, yol, gshang, and sag-ri.|
Many of these words are not commonly encountered in Tibetan and a few are extremely rare (the names of Turkic gods, cog and yol only occur in long-forgotten Old Tibetan documents), although others such as chu-ba and 'cham are everyday words.
The gshang bell, used primarily by followers of Bön, but also by some Kagyü Lamas and spirit mediums, looks like this:
For the Tibetan word for that shagreen that helps keep a tight grip on knives and swords, have a look at this March 2009 blog entry of Sitahu where C.C. and I had a lot of fun discussing it. I must say, I have nothing more to say about it, much to my chagrin.
I’ve found that you can find a lot more Tibetan words taken from Mongolian in a convenient list — with discussion — in the 2008 doctoral dissertation of Tóth Erzsébet (Elisabeth Toth), Mongol–Tibeti Nyelvi Kölcsönhatások (found online here), pp. 13-34. It’s interesting that the Tibetan word used in recent times for Russia, ཨུ་རུ་སུ་, was taken from Mongolian. It would appear that Rgya-ser/ རྒྱ་སེར་ ['Yellow Expanse'?] is the more genuinely Tibetan name for it, but it too doesn’t seem to date back more than a few centuries, so I very much doubt it could have anything to do with the Khazars.
All these vocabulary connections are provisional and merit prolonged study, reflection and discussion.