Tibetan Line breaking options

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cfynn
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Tibetan Line breaking options

Post by cfynn » Sun Jul 15, 2007 5:27 am

I've recently been coming across quite a number of very carefully calligraphed Tibetan (chos skad) manuscripts in Bhutan where tsheg is never used at the end of lines (and of course never used to pad lines to achieve justification). I guess the line break itself was considered enough to delimit the end of a "syllable" - and it may be that a tsheg at the end of a line was considered inauspicious by the calligraphers concerned.

These are all manuscripts clearly written by "professionals" - and include an entire bka' 'gyur and two rnyig ma rgyud 'bum manuscripts as well as individual large sutras written in gold ink - so they are fairly significant. Dropping the tsheg at the end of lines in these texts was certainly deliberate - and I think it goes to show that there was not a single set of rules for formatting Tibetan - but that different conventions were followed by different traditions of calligraphy

Anyway, if it is not too difficult to implement, an option to hide the tsheg at the end of lines might be another nice feature to add to PechaMaker since this would enable users to reproduce the formatting conventions followed in these particular manuscript examples.

(Of course this is nothing urgent - just a suggestion for an enhancement.)

- Chris
Christopher J Fynn
Dzongkha Development Commission
Thimphu, Bhutan

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FWJ
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Tibetan Line breaking options

Post by FWJ » Sun Jul 15, 2007 11:28 am

cfynn wrote:Dropping the tsheg at the end of lines in these texts was certainly deliberate - and I think it goes to show that there was not a single set of rules for formatting Tibetan - but that different conventions were followed by different traditions of calligraphy
Thanks Chris for pointing this out; that last bit has been my contention all along, that there is no standard.

On the examples of dropped tsheg that you have seen, did they use "full justification" on the text? And if they did use full justification, was the text spread out so the last character on the line was aligned to the box? Or did they leave the space that a tsheg would have occupied and just not draw the tsheg mark?

Could you send me a scan file of a couple pages so I can see how it was done? Maybe pick pages with graphically complex line endings.

Thanks Chris.

cfynn
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Joined: Mon Dec 26, 2005 8:33 am
Location: Thimphu, Bhutan
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Re: Tibetan Line breaking options

Post by cfynn » Sun Jul 15, 2007 12:24 pm

FWJ wrote: ... that last bit has been my contention all along, that there is no standard.
One could also say that there are several "standards" which some of the people who follow each of them will insist is the correct standard.
FWJ wrote: On the examples of dropped tsheg that you have seen, did they use "full justification" on the text? And if they did use full justification, was the text spread out so the last character on the line was aligned to the box? Or did they leave the space that a tsheg would have occupied and just not draw the tsheg mark?
In all cases but one they seem to be trying to achieve something like full justification - but obviously there are limitations when you are writing by hand unless you pencil in everything first, make adjustments and only write in ink once you have it right. Most Tibetans and Bhutanese I've talked to seem to prefer full justification without padding with tsheg - Fortunately given the right instructions computers are good at things requiring calculation such as adjusting space widths and inter-character spacing - so this is achievable.

To maintain something like padding with tsheg - which it seems to me is an artefact of the practical limitations of calligraphy and xylography - is how things should continue to be done strikes me as a little silly unless one is deliberately trying to create an antiquated look.
FWJ wrote: Could you send me a scan file of a couple pages so I can see how it was done? Maybe pick pages with graphically complex line endings.
Done.

best regards

- Chris
Christopher J Fynn
Dzongkha Development Commission
Thimphu, Bhutan

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