Ahom script

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Ahom script
Ahom script.png
Script type
Time period
13th century–19th century
Directionleft-to-right Edit this on Wikidata
LanguagesAhom language, Assamese language (rarely)[1]
Related scripts
Parent systems
ISO 15924
ISO 15924Ahom, 338 Edit this on Wikidata, ​Ahom, Tai Ahom
Unicode alias
[a] The Semitic origin of the Brahmic scripts is not universally agreed upon.

The Ahom script or Tai Ahom Script, is an abugida that is used to write the Ahom language, a dead (but being revived) Tai language spoken by the Ahom people till the late 18th-century, who established the Ahom kingdom and ruled the eastern part of the Brahmaputra valley between the 13th and the 18th centuries.[8] The old Ahom language today survives in the numerous manuscripts written in this script currently in institutional and private possession.


The Ahom script was probably ultimately derived from the Indic, or Brahmi script,[8] the root of almost all the Indic and Southeast Asian abugidas. It is probably of South Indic origin.[9] The Brahmi script spread in a peaceful manner, Indianization, or the spread of Indian learning. It spread naturally to Southeast Asia, at ports on trading routes.[10] At these trading posts, ancient inscriptions have been found in Sanskrit, using scripts that originated in India. At first, inscriptions were made in Indian languages, but later the scripts were used to write the local Southeast Asian languages. Hereafter, local varieties of the scripts were developed. By the 8th century, the scripts had diverged and separated into regional scripts.[11] It is believed that the Ahom people adopted their script from either Old Mon or Old Burmese, in Upper Myanmar before migrating to the Brahmaputra Valley in the 13th century. This is supported based on similar shapes of characters between Ahom and Old Mon and Old Burmese scripts. It is clear, however, that the script and language would have changed during the few hundred years it was in use.[4]

The earliest attestation of the Ahom script is in the form of coins minted during the reign of Suklenmung (1539-1552).[12] Samples of writing in the Ahom Script (Buranji's) remain stored in Assamese collections. The manuscripts were reportedly traditionally produced on paper prepared from agarwood (locally known as sachi) bark.[4] Assamese replaced Ahom during the 17th century.[13]

The Ahom script is no longer used by the Ahom people to read and write in everyday life. However, it retains cultural significance and is used for religious chants and to read literature.[8] Ahom's literary tradition provides a window into the past, of Ahom's culture.[14] A printed form of the font was developed in 1920, to be used in the first "Ahom-Assamese-English Dictionary".[4]


Like most abugidas, each letter has an inherent vowel of /a/.[15] Other vowels are indicated by using diacritics, which can appear above, below, to the left, or to the right of the consonant. The script does not, however, indicate tones used in the language.[4] The Ahom script is further complicated as it contains inconsistencies; a consonant may be written once in a word, but pronounced twice, common words may be shortened, and consecutive words with the same initial consonant may be contracted.[4]


The Ahom script contains its own set of numerals:

Ahom numerals 𑜰 𑜱 𑜲 𑜳 𑜴 𑜵 𑜶 𑜷 𑜸 𑜹
Hindu-Arabic numerals 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9


Ahom script was added to the Unicode Standard in June, 2015 with the release of version 8.0.

The Unicode block for Ahom is U+11700–U+1173F:

Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F
U+1170x 𑜀 𑜁 𑜂 𑜃 𑜄 𑜅 𑜆 𑜇 𑜈 𑜉 𑜊 𑜋 𑜌 𑜍 𑜎 𑜏
U+1171x 𑜐 𑜑 𑜒 𑜓 𑜔 𑜕 𑜖 𑜗 𑜘 𑜙 𑜚 𑜝 𑜞 𑜟
U+1172x 𑜠 𑜡 𑜢 𑜣 𑜤 𑜥 𑜦 𑜧 𑜨 𑜩 𑜪 𑜫
U+1173x 𑜰 𑜱 𑜲 𑜳 𑜴 𑜵 𑜶 𑜷 𑜸 𑜹 𑜺 𑜻 𑜼 𑜽 𑜾 𑜿
1.^ As of Unicode version 13.0
2.^ Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://sealang.net/ahom/
  2. ^ Diringer, David (1948). Alphabet a key to the history of mankind. p. 411.
  3. ^ Aung-Thwin, Michael A. (2005). The Mon Paradigm and the Origins of the Burma Script. University of Hawai'i Press. pp. 154–178. ISBN 9780824828868. JSTOR j.ctt1wn0qs1.10.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Terwiel, B. J., & Wichasin, R. (eds.), (1992). Tai Ahoms and the stars: three ritual texts to ward off danger. Ithaca, NY: Southeast Asia Program.
  5. ^ Shan Manuscripts,Part 1,B.J. Terwiel & Chaichuen Khamdaengyodtai(2003),p13
  6. ^ https://www.scriptsource.org/cms/scripts/page.php?item_id=script_detail&key=Ahom
  7. ^ Hartmann, John F. (1986). "The Spread of South Indic Scripts in Southeast Asia". Crossroads: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Southeast Asian Studies. 3 (1): 6–20. JSTOR 40860228.
  8. ^ a b c Diller, A. (1993). Tai Languages. In International Encyclopedia of Linguistics (Vol. 4, pp. 128-131). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
  9. ^ French, M. A. (1994). Tai Languages. In The Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics (Vol. 4, pp. 4520-4521). New York, NY: Pergamon Press Press.
  10. ^ Court, C. (1996). Introduction. In P. T. Daniels & W. Bright (Eds.) The World's Writing Systems (pp. 443). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  11. ^ Court, C. (1996). The spread of Brahmi Script into Southeast Asia. In P. T. Daniels & W. Bright (Eds.) The World's Writing Systems (pp. 445-449). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  12. ^ Diller, Anthony (1992). Thai languages in Assam: Daughters or Ghosts?. p. 11.
  13. ^ Assam. (2008). In Columbia Encyclopedia Retrieved April 12, 2009, from http://www.credoreference.com/entry/8256016/.
  14. ^ Hongladarom, K. (2005). Thai and Tai Languages. In Encyclopedia of linguistics (Vol. 2, pp. 1098-1101). New York, NY: Fitzroy Dearborn.
  15. ^ Hosken, Martin; Morey, Stephen (2012-10-23). "N4321R: Revised Proposal to add the Ahom Script in the SMP of the UCS" (PDF). ISO/IEC JTC1/SC2/WG2.


External links[edit]