སྔོན་པོ། Tibetan 'Grue'

Did you ever notice that the colors in Tibetan pretty standard-ly end in 'po:'

མར་པོ།  སེར་པོ།  དཀར་པོ།  ནག་པོ།  སྔོན་པོ། ་་་་་་  

Except for one: ལྗང་ཁུ། ? Why the odd ending for the color "green"?

There are two curious entries in the བོད་རྒྱ་ཚིག་མཛོད་ཆེན་མོ། related to this:

  • ལྗང་བུ། གྲོ་ནས་ཀྱི་མྱུ་གུ་སྔོན་པོ།
  • སྔོན་པོ། ནམ་མཁའི་དོག རྩྭ་སྔོན་པོ། རས་སྔོན་པོ།

Both entries suggest that the natural color of grass, or barley sprouts, in the Tibetan color scheme is not "green" but "blue." If so, it would make sense that "green"—ལྗང་ཁུ—was coined with the import of Buddhist color schemes from India.

And that སྔོན་པོ is not "blue," but "grue."

This theory gains even more weight when we count the number of hits we get when searching for color terms (note that the frequency of all terms, across English and Tibetan, are %-wise comparable, with one exception—green):

TBRC (Tibetan Corpus):

  1. WHITE - dkar po - 52,623
  2. BLACK - nag po - 38,938
  3. RED - dmar po - 36,848
  4. BLUE - sngon po - 25,870
  5. YELLOW - ser po - 18,225
  6. GREEN - ljang gu - 7,402 + ljang khu - 3,708 = 11,110

COCA (English Corpus):

  1. WHITE - 208,113
  2. BLACK - 176,735
  3. RED - 90,798
  4. GREEN - 71,948
  5. BLUE - 59,997
  6. YELLOW - 26,990
grue.jpg