Brahmic scripts

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Not to be confused with the Brahmi script.

The Brahmic scripts are a family of abugida or alphabet writing systems. They are used throughout the Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia and parts of East Asia, and were once used in Japan, and are descended from the Brahmi script of ancient India. They are used by languages of several language families: Indo-European, Dravidian, Tibeto-Burman, Mongolic, Austroasiatic, Austronesian, Turkic, Tai. They were also the source of the dictionary order of Japanese kana.[1]


Spread of Brahmic family of scripts from India.

Brahmic scripts descended from the Brahmi script. Brahmi is clearly attested from the 3rd century BC during the reign of Ashoka, who used the script for imperial edicts, but there are some claims of earlier epigraphy found on pottery in South India and Sri Lanka. The most reliable of these were short Brahmi inscriptions dated to the 4th century BC and published by Coningham et al.,[2] but scattered press reports have claimed both dates as early as the 6th century BC and that the characters are identifiably Tamil Brahmi, though these latter claims do not appear to have been published academically. Northern Brahmi gave rise to the Gupta script during the Gupta period, which in turn diversified into a number of cursives during the Middle Ages, including Siddham, Sharada and Nagari.

The Siddham script was especially important in Buddhism, as many sutras were written in it. The art of Siddham calligraphy survives today in Japan. The syllabic nature and dictionary order of the modern kana system of Japanese writing is believed to be descended from the Indic scripts, most likely through the spread of Buddhism.[3]

Southern Brahmi evolved into Old-Kannada, Pallava and Vatteluttu scripts, which in turn diversified into other scripts of South India and Southeast Asia.

Bhattiprolu was a great centre of Buddhism during 3rd century BCE and from where Buddhism spread to east Asia. The present Telugu script is derived from Bhattiprolu Script or 'Kannada-Telugu script' or Kadamba script, also known as 'old Telugu script', owing to its similarity to the same.[4][5]

Initially, minor changes were made which is now called Tamil Brahmi which has far fewer letters than some of the other Indic scripts as it has no separate aspirated or voiced consonants.


Some characteristics, which are present in most but not all the scripts, are:


Below are comparison charts of several of the major Indic scripts, organised on the principle that glyphs in the same column all derive from the same Brahmi glyph. Accordingly:

  • The charts are not comprehensive. Glyphs may be unrepresented if they don't derive from any Brahmi character, but are later inventions.
  • The pronunciations of glyphs in the same column may not be identical. The pronunciation row is only representative; the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) pronunciation is given for Sanskrit where possible, or another language if necessary.

The transliteration is indicated in ISO 15919.


ISO ka kha ga gha cha chha ja jha ñ ṭa ṭha ḍa ḍha ṇa ta tha da dha na pa pha ba bha ma ya ra la ḷa v śha ṣa sa h
Bengali-Assamese   র, ৰ      
Odia ନ଼ ର଼ ଳ଼
Gurmukhi     ਲ਼   ਸ਼  
Brahmi Brah k.svg Brah kh.svg Brah g.svg Brah gh.svg Brah ng.svg Brah c.svg Brah ch.svg Brah j.svg Brah jh.svg Brah ny.svg Brah t1.svg Brah th1.svg Brah d1.svg Brah dh1.svg Brah n1.svg Brah t.svg Brah th.svg Brah d.svg Brah dh.svg Brah n.svg   Brah p.svg Brah ph.svg Brah b.svg Brah bh.svg Brah m.png Brah y.png Brah r.png   Brah l.png Brah l1.svg   Brah v.png Brah sh.png Brah s1.png Brah s.png Brah h.png
Burmese က /    
Thai ฎ* ด*   บ*    
Javanese * * * * * * * * * * *       * *
Batak (Toba)           /                                
  • Javanese. Letters used in Old Javanese. They are now obsolete, but are used for honorifics in contemporary Javanese.
  • Thai. A modified form of the letter is used for, but is not restricted to, Sanskrit and Pali in the Thai script.
  • Malayalam. Malayalam nna implemented in Unicode 6.0. May not be rendered correctly.
  • Tamil. Pallava grantha letters (not used in actual Tamil) but for transcribing foreign words.


Vowels are presented in their independent form on the left of each column, and in their corresponding dependent form (vowel sign) combined with the consonant k on the right. A glyph for ka is an independent consonant letter itself without any vowel sign, where the vowel a is inherent. When used to write their own languages, Khmer can have either an a or an o as the inherent vowel, following the rules of its orthography. Thai and Lao script do not have independent vowel forms, for syllables starting with a vowel sound, a "zero" consonant, อ and ອ, respectively, to represent the glottal stop /ʔ/.

ISO a ā æ ɒ i ī u ū e ē ai o ō au r̥̄ l̥̄
a ka ā æ ɒ i ki ī u ku ū e ke ē ai kai ko au kau kr̥ r̥̄ kr̥̄ kl̥ l̥̄ kl̥̄ kṁ kḥ k
Odia କା ଅଽ କଽ     କି କୀ କୁ କୂ     କେ କୈ     କୋ କୌ କୃ କୃ୍ କ୍ଲୃ କ୍ଳୃ କଂ କଃ କ୍
Assamese কা অ্যা ক্যা     কি কী কু কূ     কে কৈ     কো কৌ কৃ কৄ কৢ কৣ
Bengali কা অ্যা ক্যা     কি কী কু কূ কে     কৈ কো কৌ কৃ কৄ কৢ কৣ
Devanagari का अॅ कॅ कॉ कि की कु कू कॆ के कै कॊ को कौ कृ कॄ कॢ कॣ अं कं अः कः क्
Gujarati કા         કિ કી કુ કૂ     કે કૈ     કો કૌ કૃ કૄ કૢ કૣ
Gurmukhi ਕਾ         ਕਿ ਕੀ ਕੁ ਕੂ     ਕੇ ਕੈ     ਕੋ ਕੌ                
Tibetan ཨཱ ཀཱ         ཨི ཀི ཨཱི ཀཱི ཨུ ཀུ ཨཱུ ཀཱུ     ཨེ ཀེ ཨཻ ཀཻ     ཨོ ཀོ ཨཽ ཀཽ རྀ ཀྲྀ རཱྀ ཀཷ ལྀ ཀླྀ ལཱྀ ཀླཱྀ
Brahmi Brah a.svg Brahmi letter Ka.svg Brah aa.svg Brahmi letter Kā.svg         Brah i.svg Brahmi letter Ki.svg Brah ii.svg Brahmi letter Kī.svg Brah u.svg Brahmi letter Ku.svg Brah uu.svg Brahmi letter Kū.svg     Brah e.svg Brahmi letter Ke.svg Brah ai.svg Brahmi letter Kai.svg     Brah o.svg Brahmi letter Ko.svg Brahmi letter Au.svg Brahmi letter Kau.svg                
Telugu కా         కి కీ కు కూ కె కే కై కొ కో కౌ కృ కౄ కౢ కౣ అం కం అః కః
Kannada ಕಾ         ಕಿ ಕೀ ಕು ಕೂ ಕೆ ಕೇ ಕೈ ಕೊ ಕೋ ಕೌ ಕೃ ಕೄ ಕೢ ಕೣ అం ಕಂ అః ಕಃ
Sinhala කා කැ කෑ කි කී කු කූ කෙ කේ කෛ කො කෝ කෞ සෘ කෘ සෲ කෲ කෟ කෳ අං කං අඃ කඃ ක්
Malayalam കാ         കി കീ കു കൂ കെ കേ കൈ കൊ കോ കൗ കൃ കൄ കൢ കൣ അം കം അഃ കഃ
Tamil கா         கி கீ கு கூ கெ கே கை கொ கோ கௌ                 க்
Burmese က အာ ကာ         ကိ ကီ ကု ကူ ကေ အေး ကေး     ကော     ကော် ကၖ ကၗ ကၘ ကၙ
Khmer កា         កិ កី កុ កូ     កេ កៃ     កោ កៅ ក្ឫ ក្ឬ ក្ឭ ក្ឮ
Thai กะ กา         กิ กี กุ กู เ◌ะ เกะ เก ไก โ◌ะ โกะ โก เ◌า เกา กฤ ฤๅ กฤๅ กฦ ฦๅ กฦๅ
Lao   ກັ   ກາ           ກິ   ກີ   ກຸ   ກູ       ເກ   ໄກ/ໃກ       ໂກ   ເກົາ/ກາວ                
Balinese ᬓᬵ         ᬓᬶ ᬓᬷ ᬓᬸ ᬓᬹ ᬓᬾ     ᬓᬿ ᬓᭀ     ᬓᭁ ᬓᬺ ᬓᬻ ᬓᬼ ᬓᬽ
Javanese ꦄꦴ ꦏꦴ         ꦏꦶ ꦏꦷ ꦏꦸ ꦈꦴ ꦏꦹ ꦏꦺ     ꦏꦻ ꦏꦺꦴ     ꦎꦴ ꦏꦻꦴ ꦏꦽ ꦉꦴ ꦏꦽꦴ    
Sundanese             ᮊᮤ     ᮊᮥ     ᮊᮦ         ᮊᮧ                        
Buginese                 ᨕᨗ       ᨕᨘ       ᨕᨙ           ᨕᨚ                        
Bataknese (Toba)             ᯂᯪ     ᯂᯮ       ᯂᯩ           ᯂᯬ                        

Note: Glyphs for r̥̄, , l̥̄ and a few other glyphs are obsolete or very rarely used.


Hindu-Arabic 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Brahmi N 𑁒 𑁓 𑁔 𑁕 𑁖 𑁗 𑁘 𑁙 𑁚
Brahmi D 𑁦 𑁧 𑁨 𑁩 𑁪 𑁫 𑁬 𑁭 𑁮 𑁯

List of Brahmic scripts[edit]

Scripts derived from Brahmi.


Indo-Aryan languages (incl Dogri) using their respective Brahmic family scripts (except dark blue colored- Sindhi, Lahnda, Western Panjabi, Shina, Kashmiri, Urdu- not marked here, which use Arabic derived scripts).
Dravidian languages using their respective Brahmic family scripts (except Brahui which uses Arabic derived script).

The Brahmi script was already divided into regional variants at the time of the earliest surviving epigraphy around the 3rd century BC. Cursives of the Brahmi script began to diversify further from around the 5th century AD and continued to give rise to new scripts throughout the Middle Ages. The main division in antiquity was between northern and southern Brahmi. In the northern group, the Gupta script was very influential, and in the southern group the Vatteluttu and Old-Kannada/Pallava scripts with the spread of Buddhism sent Brahmic scripts throughout Southeast Asia.

Northern Brahmic[edit]

Southern Brahmic[edit]

(Tamil Brahmi, perhaps 5th or older but certainly 3rd, century BC, Kalinga, Bhattiprolu)


As of Unicode version 9.0, the following Brahmic scripts have been encoded:

script derivation period of derivation usage notes ISO 15924 Unicode range(s) sample
Ahom Pallava grantha 13th century Extinct Ahom language Ahom U+11700–U1173F 𑜒𑜠𑜑𑜨𑜉
Balinese Old Kawi 11th century Balinese language Bali U+1B00–U1B7F ᬅᬓ᭄ᬲᬭᬩᬮᬶ
Batak Pallava grantha 14th century Batak languages Batk U+1BC0–U1BFF
Baybayin Old Kawi 14th century Tagalog, other Philippine languages Tglg U+1700–U171F ᜊᜌ᜔ᜊᜌᜒᜈ᜔
Bengali Siddham 11th century Assamese language (Assamese script variant), Bengali language (Bengali script variant), Bishnupriya Manipuri, Maithili, Angika Beng U+0980–U09FF
  • অসমীয়া লিপি
  • বাংলা লিপি
Bhaiksuki Gupta Was used around the turn of the first millennium for writing Sanskrit Bhks U+11C00–U11C6F
Buhid Old Kawi 14th century Buhid language Buhd U+1740–U175F ᝊᝓᝑᝒᝇ
Burmese Pallava grantha 11th century Burmese language, numerous modifications for other languages including Chakma, Eastern and Western Pwo Karen, Geba Karen, Kayah, Mon, Rumai Palaung, S'gaw Karen, Shan Mymr U+1000–U109F, U+A9E0–UA9FF, U+AA60–UAA7F မြန်မာအက္ခရာ
Chakma Pallava grantha 8th century Chakma language Cakm U+11100–U1114F
Cham Pallava grantha 8th century Cham language Cham U+AA00–UAA5F ꨌꨠ
Devanagari Nagari 13th century Numerous Indo-Aryan languages, including Sanskrit, Hindi, Marathi, Nepali, Bhili, Konkani, Bhojpuri, Nepal Bhasa and sometimes Sindhi and Kashmiri. Formerly used to write Gujarati. Sometimes used to write or transliterate Sherpa Deva U+0900–U097F, U+A8E0–UA8FF देवनागरी
Grantha Brahmi 6th century Restricted use in traditional Vedic schools to write Sanskrit. Was widely used by Tamil speakers for Sanskrit and the classical language Manipravalam. Gran U+11300–U1137F
Gujarati Nagari 17th century Gujarati language, Kutchi language Gujr U+0A80–U0AFF ગુજરાતી લિપિ
Gurmukhi Sharada 16th century Punjabi language Guru U+0A00–U0A7F ਗੁਰਮੁਖੀ
Hanunó'o Old Kawi 14th century Hanuno'o language Hano U+1720–U173F ᜱᜨᜳᜨᜳᜢ
Javanese Old Kawi 16th century Javanese language, Sundanese language, Madurese language Java U+A980–UA9DF ꦄꦏ꧀ꦱꦫꦗꦮ
Kaithi Nagari 16th century Historically used for writing legal, administrative, and private records. Kthi U+11080–U110CF
Kannada Kadamba/Old Kannada 9th century Kannada language, Konkani language Tulu, Badaga, Kodava, Beary others Knda U+0C80–U0CFF ಕನ್ನಡ ಅಕ್ಷರಮಾಲೆ
Khmer Pallava grantha 11th century Khmer language Khmr U+1780–U17FF, U+19E0–U19FF អក្សរខ្មែរ
Khojki Landa 16th century Some use by Ismaili communities. Was used by the Khoja community for Muslim religious literature. Khoj U+11200–U1124F
Khudawadi Landa 1550s Was used by Sindhi communities for correspondence and business records. Sind U+112B0–U112FF
Lao Khmer 14th century Lao language, others Laoo U+0E80–U0EFF ອັກສອນລາວ
Lepcha Tibetan 18th century Lepcha language Lepc U+1C00–U1C4F
Limbu Lepcha 18th century Limbu language Limb U+1900–U194F ᤛᤡᤖᤡᤈᤨᤅ
Lontara Old Kawi 17th century Buginese language, others Bugi U+1A00–U1A1F ᨒᨚᨈᨑ
Mahajani Landa Historically used in northern India for writing accounts and financial records. Mahj U+11150–U1117F
Malayalam Grantha 12th century Malayalam language Mlym U+0D00–U0D7F മലയാളലിപി
Marchen Was used in the Tibetan Bön tradition to write the extinct Zhang-Zhung language Marc U+11C70–U11CBF
Meetei Mayek Historically used for the Meithei language. Some modern usage. Mtei U+AAE0–UAAFF, U+ABC0–UABFF ꯃꯤꯇꯩ ꯃꯌꯦꯛ
Modi Devanagari 17th century Was used to write the Marathi language Modi U+11600–U1165F
Multani Landa Was used to write Saraiki Mult U+11280–U112AF
New Tai Lue Tai Tham 1950s Tai Lü language Talu U+1980–U19DF ᦟᦲᧅᦎᦷᦑᦺ
Odia Kalinga 10th century Odia language Orya U+0B00–U0B7F ଉତ୍କଳାକ୍ଷର
'Phags-Pa Tibetan 13th century Historically used during the Mongol Yuan dynasty. Phag U+A840–UA87F
Prachalit (Newa) Nepal Has been used for writing the Sanskrit, Nepali, Hindi, Bengali, and Maithili languages Newa U+11400–U1147F
Rejang Old Kawi 18th century Rejang language, mostly obsolete Rjng U+A930–UA95F ꥆꤰ꥓ꤼꤽ ꤽꥍꤺꥏ
Saurashtra Grantha 20th century Saurashtra language, mostly obsolete Saur U+A880–UA8DF ꢱꣃꢬꢵꢰ꣄ꢜ꣄ꢬꢵ
Sharada Gupta 8th century Was used for writing Sanskrit and Kashmiri Shrd U+11180–U111DF
Siddham Gupta 7th century Was used for writing Sanskrit Sidd U+11580–U115FF
Sinhala Grantha 12th century Sinhala language Sinh U+0D80–U0DFF, U+111E0–U111FF ශුද්ධ සිංහල
Sundanese Old Kawi 14th century Sundanese language Sund U+1B80–U1BBF, U+1CC0–U1CCF ᮃᮊ᮪ᮞᮛ ᮞᮥᮔ᮪ᮓ
Sylheti Nagari Nagari 16th century Historically used for writing the Sylheti language Sylo U+A800–UA82F ꠍꠤꠟꠐꠤ ꠘꠣꠉꠞꠤ
Tagbanwa Old Kawi 14th century various languages of Palawan, nearly extinct Tagb U+1760–U177F ᝦᝪᝨᝯ
Tai Le Pallava grantha? Tai Nüa language Tale U+1950–U197F ᥖᥭᥰᥖᥬᥳᥑᥨᥒᥰ
Tai Tham Mon Script 13th Century Northern Thai language, Tai Lü language, Khün language Lana U+1A20–U1AAF ᨲᩫ᩠ᩅᨾᩮᩬᩥᨦ
Tai Viet Thai? 16th century Tai Dam language Tavt U+AA80–UAADF ꪼꪕꪒꪾ
Takri Sharada Was used for writing Chambeali, Dogri, and other languages Takr U+11680–U116CF
Tamil Chola-Pallava alphabet 3rd Century BCE Tamil language Taml U+0B80–U0BFF தமிழ் அரிச்சுவடி
Telugu Bhattiprolu script/Old Kannada 11th Century Nannayya Telugu language Telu U+0C00–U0C7F తెలుగు లిపి
Thai Khmer 13th century Thai language Thai U+0E00–U0E7F อักษรไทย
Tibetan Siddham 8th century Tibetan language, Dzongkha language, Ladakhi language Tibt U+0F00–U0FFF བོད་ཡིག་
Tirhuta Gupta Historically used for the Maithili language Tirh U+11480–U114DF 𑒞𑒱𑒩𑒯𑒳𑒞𑒰

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Trautmann, Thomas R. (2006). Languages and Nations: The Dravidian Proof in Colonial Madras. University of California Press. pp. 65–66. 
  2. ^ Coningham, R.A.E.; Allchin, F.R.; Batt, C.M.; Lucy, D. (1996), "Passage to India? Anuradhapura and the Early Use of the Brahmi Script", Cambridge Archaeological Journal, 6 (1): 73–97, doi:10.1017/S0959774300001608 
  3. ^ "Font: Japanese". Monotype Corporation. Archived from the original on 2007-03-24. Retrieved 2010-02-09. 
  4. ^ "Telugu is 2,400 years old, says ASI". The Hindu. 2007-12-20. 
  5. ^ "Evolution of Telugu Character Graphs". Retrieved 2012-06-22. 

External links[edit]