Tibetan Medical Terms

Tibetan medical terminology is not as sufficiently surveyed as one would expect. Publications on Tibetan pharmacology, anatomy or pathology offer differing translations of medical terms found in classical or modern texts. It is the aim of this database to shed light on the plurality of these translations. It is populated by Tibetan materia medica and their available colloquial English and German correlates (the so-called "trivial names") as well as the more precise Latin biomedical or scientific names according to the sources considered. The database is regularly updated as the data expands. The application of Tibetan medicine was widespread in pre-modern times, extending from the southern Himalayan slopes to Buryatia in Russia. Due to the local biodiversity of certain regions, Tibetan materia medica have a variety of biological identifications. In the case of Tibetan anatomical terms the situation is equally ambiguous: it is not always clear which anatomical structure is really meant by a particular Tibetan anatomical term. Also, biomedical anatomical structures are named differently in different publications. The database was initiated within the scope of one of my previous projects, which identified the medical denotations of the “unfolded tree” metaphors depicted on the medical college at Labrang Monastery (P22965-G21). In my current project on Tibetan anatomical terms (P26129-G21), which is also subsidised by the Austrian Science Fund, the database is being improved and extended regularly. For the time being, it offers a comparison of Tibetan materia medica. It is envisaged as making a more comprehensive evaluation of Tibetan anatomical terms available in the near future.

Katharina Sabernig

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