Do any of you know what the symbol below is?

Mysterious symbol

The person who sent it in thinks it’s Sanskrit, but I can’t find any Sanskrit letters that look like this.

This entry was posted in Puzzles, Writing.

12 Responses to Puzzle

  1. Faldone says:

    Is it upside down?

  2. MBM says:

    Or swideways? Or makey-uppy? 🙂

  3. Dennis King says:

    Possibly “nū” in Gurmukhi, or something closely related? But it looks almost a little too “artistic”.

  4. I would guess this is a syllable in Dakini Script. In Tibetan Buddhism some teachings are supposed to be “hidden” in the past by enlightened teachers for later rediscovery by so called Tertöns (Treasure Finders). In many cases the teachings a rediscovered as scraps of paper (Shogser, or “Golden Scrolls”) with letterlike symbols which somehow trigger the Tertön to remember the teachings which they received in a past life. This Dakini script (called that after the female guardian deities of the buddhist teachings) often looks like
    this: Uchen-y, but not quite.

    In some cases the Dakini Script itself is preserved to serve some kind of purpose. See http://www.palyulproductions.org/Liberation_Upon_Sight_Notecard_-_Front.jpg for an example. Just seeing this is supposed to bring liberation from the cycle of birth and death. So there, as they say, you go.

    See for background Tulku Thondup, Hidden Teachings of Tibet: An Explanation of the Terma Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism

  5. Dennis King says:

    By the way, strictly speaking there is no such thing as “Sanskrit letters”. The language has been written in any number of Asian scripts (all the national scripts of India and Sri Lanka, Tibetan, Thai, Burmese, Siddham, etc.), and there’s the standard Roman version, too, which is just as functional as any of those.

  6. Arakun says:

    Could be one of the syllables da, na or ra with a vowel diacritic u, ū or r̥ in some northern Brahmic script. Tibetan, Siddham, Limbu or Bengali seem like good guesses though I’m far from an expert on the subject. 🙂

  7. Wolfgang Kandagawa says:

    Myself, I’d wager that it’s a corruption of the long vocalic ‘l’ glyph (ॡ).

  8. Lina says:

    I´m the one who asked for help with this 🙂 Someone has this tattoed and thinks that it is sanskrit and that it means “happines and harmony”
    I have always liked this sign but after having this picture on my computer for so many years I started to take a closer look at sanskrit and quickly got suspicious that it probably did not mean anything 😀
    Thank you for all the help, i really appriciate it 🙂 It´s sad enough that one person has this tattoed.

  9. Christopher Miller says:

    My guess is that it’s probably the Om (Aum) symbol on one of the Indian or perhaps southeast Asian scripts. Go take a look at the Wikipedia English article at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Om for a number of versions, and while you’re at it click on the French version (click on the “Français” link on the left hand side) for more illustrations. The Kannada version at http://kn.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E0%B2%93%E0%B2%82 looks *very* close. My suspicion is that the tattoo is probably of a version from one of the Indian scripts, most likely a south Indian one, distorted by someone who doesn’t know the script perhaps working from a somewhat poorly drawn model. The Chinese article at http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/唵 shows a ratther similar version in Siddham script as the first illustration.

  10. Christopher Miller says:

    To add a further note: there is a particular calligraphic version of the Devanagari Om (the most familiar one) where the initial A of the ligature (the part that looks like a 3) has an extra long swash at its bottom that curves left, down and backward, plus the curl attached on the right that represents the u in Aum curves down and ends in a rightward swash rather than curling back toward the ‘3’ part. As well, the chandrabindhu (the crescent plus dot) that represents the nasalisation of the vowel is not placed directly above the ‘3’ (i.e. A) portion, but slightly to the right. You can see versions of this here:


    I suspect the tattoo artist — or whoever first drew the model — did the main body (the ‘3’ part) upside down, then added the ‘u’ and the chandrabindhu in a slightly haphazard way, as close as possible to where they would sit had s/he put the ‘3’ right side up, but only adding the crescent missing the dot at the top of the chandrabindhu. The way the Devanagari glyphs were executed can be compared (if we imagine the symbol were its Latin alphabetic equivalent Aum) to tattooing something that ends up looking like Vun, instead of the model Aum…

  11. James says:

    My instinct was an OM that has gone awry. I have spent a lot of time around people in the yoga community and it´s not the first one I´ve seen 😉

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