Tibetan calligraphy is an art of giving expressive form to script, through the strokes and configurations of horizontal and vertical lines. It is also an artistic impression of the spirit and style presented in the overall composition of a written piece.
Tibetan written language is an alphabetic system with 30 consonants and 4 vowels. The earliest form of calligraphy is believed to be Tagzik Pungyik (a Persian-influenced writing) from the Zhang Zhung era 3,000 years ago. In the 7th century, the great scholar Thönmi Sambhota standardized Tibetan language and writing, which evolved into different styles. The major styles developed and popularized were Üchen, Ümed, Tsugyik, Druma, and Khyugyik. Chronologically, during the early Zhang Zhung period, the main calligraphic styles were Tagzik Pungyik, Marchen, and Marchung. During the Tsanpo period, there were eight different calligraphic styles in Üchen, and two styles (Dan and Lu) in Ümed. In the 10th century, the well-known calligrapher, Khyungpo Yutri, standardized the Üchen style, according to the metrics of a mandala. The Ümed style was further developed during the reigns of the fifth and thirteenth Dalai Lamas, while Druma and Khyugyik also flourished.