Tibetan name

Tibetan names typically consist of two juxtaposed elements.

Family names are rare except among those of aristocratic ancestry and then come before the personal name (but diaspora Tibetans living in societies that expect a surname may adopt one). For example, in Ngapoi Ngawang Jigme, Ngapoi was his family name and Nga-Wang Jigmê his personal name.

Tibetan nomads (drokpa) also use clan names; in farming communities, they are now rare and may be replaced by household name.

Tibetan culture is patrilineal; descent is claimed from the four ancient clans that are said to have originally inhabited Ancient Tibet: Se, Rmu, Stong and Ldong. The ancient clan system of Tibet is called rus-ba (རུས་པ), meaning bone or bone lineage.[1] The four clans were further divided into branches which are Dbra, Vgru, Ldong, Lga, Dbas and Brdav. With inter-clan marriages, the subclans were divided into many sub-branches.

While Tibetans from Kham and Amdo use their clan names as surnames, most farming communities in Central Tibet stopped using their clan names centuries ago and instead use household names.

Traditionally, personal names are bestowed upon a child by lamas, who often incorporate an element of their own name. In the Tibetan diaspora, Tibetans often turn to the for names for their children. As a result, the exile community has an overwhelming population of boys and girls whose first name is "Tenzin", the personal first name of the 14th Dalai Lama.

Personal names are in most cases composed of readily understood Tibetan words. Most personal names may be given to either males or females. Only a few are specifically male or female.

Meanings of some of the common names are listed below:

Tibetan Wylie ZWPY Common
Meaning Reference
བསྟན་འཛིན bstan 'dzin Tenzin holder of the teaching [2]
རྒྱ་མཚོ rgya mtsho Gyatso ocean [3]
སྐལབཟང skal bzang Kelsang good fortune, good luck, golden age, (a flower) [4]
ཉི་མ nyi ma Nyima sun, day [5]
རྡོ་རྗེ rdo rje Dorji indestructable, invincible, Vajra [6]
དབྱངསམཚོ dbyangs mtsho Yangtso harmony + lake/ocean [7][8]
བསམ་གཏན bsam gtan Samten concentration [9]
ལྷ་མོ lha mo Lhamo princess, lady, goddess, Tibetan opera, opera [10]
སྒྲོལ་མ sgrol ma Dolma Tara, goddess
པད་མ pad ma Pema Lotus flower
ཚེ་རིང tshering Tsering Long life
རྒྱལ་མཚན rgyal mtshan Gyemtsen banner of victory, the victory banner, one of the eight auspicious symbols [11]
ཡེ་ཤེས ye shes Yêxê Yeshe wisdom, jnana [12]
བསོད་ནམས bsod nams Soinam Sonam merit [13]
བདེ་སྐྱིད bde skyid Têci Diki happiness
ཟླ་བ zla wa Dawa moon
བཀྲ་ཤིས bkra-shis Zhaxi Tashi auspiciousness
རིན་ཆེན rin chen Rinchen treasure
དབངམོ dbang mo Wangmô Wangmo lady
བདེཆེན bde chen Dêqên Dechen great bliss [14][15]

Other common Tibetan names include Bhuti, Choedon, Choekyi, Chogden, Chokphel, Damchoe, Dasel, Dema, Dhondup, Dolkar, Gyurmey, Jampa, Jangchup, Jungney, Kalden, Khando, Karma, Kunchok, Kunga, Lekhshey, Lhakpa, Lhakyi, Lhami, Lhawang, Lobsang, Metok, Namdak, Namdol, Namgyal, Ngonga, Norbu, Paljor, Pasang, Peldun, Phuntsok, Phurpa, Rabgang, Rabgyal, Rabten, Rangdol, Rigsang, Rigzin, Samdup, Sangyal, Thinley, Tsomo, Tsundue, Wangchuk, Wangyag, Woeser, Woeten, Yangdol, Yangkey, and Yonten.


  1. ^ http://eng.tibet.cn/2010ls/xw/201404/t20140410_1987660.html
  2. ^ "Dictionary: bstan 'dzin". The Tibetan & Himalayan Library. Retrieved 2013-12-29.
  3. ^ "Dictionary: rgya mtsho". The Tibetan & Himalayan Library. Retrieved 2013-12-29.
  4. ^ "Dictionary: skal bzang". The Tibetan & Himalayan Library. Retrieved 2013-12-29.
  5. ^ "Dictionary: nyi ma". The Tibetan & Himalayan Library. Retrieved 2013-12-29.
  6. ^ "Dictionary: rdo rje". The Tibetan & Himalayan Library. Retrieved 2013-12-29.
  7. ^ "Dictionary: dbyangs". The Tibetan & Himalayan Library. Retrieved 2013-12-29.
  8. ^ "Dictionary: mtsho". The Tibetan & Himalayan Library. Retrieved 2013-12-29.
  9. ^ "Dictionary: bsam gtan". The Tibetan & Himalayan Library. Retrieved 2013-12-29.
  10. ^ "Dictionary: lha mo". The Tibetan & Himalayan Library. Retrieved 2013-12-29.
  11. ^ The Tibetan & Himalayan Library. "Dictionary: lha mo". Retrieved 2013-12-29.
  12. ^ The Collected Works of Chögyam Trungpa. 6. Shambhala Publications. 2010. p. 426. ISBN 9780834821552.
  13. ^ Buswell, Robert E., Jr.; Lopez, Donald S., Jr. (2013). The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism. Princeton University Press. p. 1232. ISBN 9780691157863.
  14. ^ 陈观胜 [Chen Guansheng] 安才旦 [An Caidan] (2004). 《汉英藏对照常见藏语人名地名词典》 [Dictionary of Common Tibetan Personal and Place Names]. Beijing: Foreign Languages Press. p. 74. ISBN 7-119-03497-9.
  15. ^ Payne, Richard Karl; Tanaka, Kenneth Kazuo (2004). Approaching the Land of Bliss: Religious Praxis in the Cult of Amitåabha. University of Hawaii Press. p. 49. ISBN 0-824-82578-0.

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