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The paper puts forward a new interpretation of the problematic word btol that is sparsely attested in Old Tibetan sources. The philological analysis is supported by a lexicological survey of potential cognates; taken together these allow us to sketch the word family of btol, and thus to better understand the underlying semantics of the word. It is argued that the term denoted a rite within a funeral ceremony; to be specific, the rite of exposure of the deceased’s body before it was interred. In order to contextualise the rite and to assess its cultural significance, this paper also discusses certain funeral customs of later periods.

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