Friday, June 7, 2024

Tiru’s Morphology

We must be among the only human race who choose to call our paper currency: Ngultrum/Ngueltang or, in plain English, Silver Coin. For a while I attempted to find out how such a bizarre thing could have come to pass - but after a while I gave up - it was simply beyond me. I decided that it must be because of our penchant for wanting to be unique.

But for those of us with a conscience, problems do not go away because we choose to side-step the issues - it will continue to haunt us to the end of our time. So, I decided to shift focus - instead of trying to find out WHY, I decided to find out WHAT?

WHAT should be the correct nomenclature?

While I was racking my brains between why and what, I am made aware of a German Tibetologist and coin collector - David Hollar - writing about a misspelling that he discovered in our Nu.10 banknote of 1981. I am hugely intrigued - thus I decide to run through the entire gamut of our banknotes - from the earliest ones issued in 1974 to the present day. That is when my attention was drawn to something that I had never before noticed - the use of the term “Rup” on the obverse of four of our earliest banknotes: Nu.1, Nu.5, Nu.10 and Nu.100.00. The scripting of the PROMISE TO PAY is worded as follows:

I am referring to our following earliest four banknotes issued in 1974 and 1975:

What the dang hell is "Rup"? Is it Rupee like the term used on our Nickel Tikchang of 1966? I consulted a Bhutanese scholar but he totally disagreed …. he opined that it could very well mean “Tikrup”. I asked another respected scholar and he told me the same - that the term “Rup” is short for “Tikrup” - that the term "Tikrup" or "Tiru" has been in use in Bhutan from ancient times - to mean: money. He went on to say that the oldest written record of the term he has come across so far appears in the Namthar (biography) of Yoenten Thaye who was our 13th Je Khenpo - from the year 1771 to 1775.

This was most revealing! How could I have missed it? When I think of it, even today the use of the term "Tikrup" or "Tiru" is more common, while “Ngueltang” is only occasionally used, if at all. For instance, if one were to listen to a conversation between a seller and a buyer in the market place, in all probability one will most likely hear the use of the term "Tiru", rather than "Ngueltang". In all likelihood, they are more likely to exchange the value of a merchandize in the amount of "Tiru" - rather than Ngueltang.

Listen carefully and in 90% of the cases you will hear it said:

Tiru Nga - instead of Ngueltang Nga!

I can bet that a Khengpa will most likely say: “Tiru khai thek bi-yai”

On the other hand a Ngalong is unlikely to say: “Ngueltang khae nga gobey"

A Sharchop will most assuredly say: "Sharchokpa baka bu tiru cha na om la"

1 comment:

  1. Insightful la Sir, but Sharchokpa baka bu tiru cha na om la 😂😂😂