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Mahayana Buddhists in Tibet believe that eery spoken or written repetition of the prayer "Om mani padme hum" brings enlightenment one step closer. Copies of the mantra are rolled up inside handheld wheels like the one at left, which people whirl while praying. Rows of large wheels outside monasteries, like those shown on page 141, are given a spin by anyone passing by.
Tibetan top strokes are written first, not last, and they do not extend beyond the leyyers. Pen angles vary from 60 to 120 degrees. A flexible brush, held upright, may be used instead of a rigid pen. Review basic Chinese brush technique on pages 66-69. Squared off on top, many letters descend to a sharp point. Consonant-vowel combinations do not merge side to side but stack up vertically.