Classical Newari

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Classical Nepalbhasa
Old Newari
पुलाङु नेपाल भाय्
Native toNepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, Tibet, India
Eradeveloped into Nepal Bhasa ca. 1850; continues as a literary and liturgical language
Nepalese scripts: Ranjana script, Prachalit script, Brahmi script, Kutila script, Bhujimol script, Golmol script, Litumol script, Other:Devanagari, Brahmi script
Language codes
ISO 639-2nwc
ISO 639-3nwc

Classical Newari (Modern: पुलां भाय्, Classical: पुलाङु नेपाल भाय्), also known as Old Newari or Classical Nepal Bhasa,[1] is the pre-1850 literary form of Nepal Bhasa. It is an important source language for historians and philologists. The classical Newari language has also been considered a hybrid in which an extensive Sanskrit element was grafted on to the Tibeto-Burman substratum [2]

Ancient era[edit]

The earliest known (dated) document in Nepal Bhasa is called "The Palmleaf from Uku Bahal" which dates back to 1114 AD (235 NS).[3]

Nepal Bhasa: छीन ढाको तृसंघष परिभोग। छु पुलेंग कीत्य बिपार वस्त्र बिवु मिखा तिवु मदुगुन छु सात दुगुनव ल्है।
chīna ḍhākō tr̥saṃghaṣa paribhōga, chu pulēṃga kītya bipāra vastra bivu mikhā tivu maduguna chu sāta dugunava lhai.

which is a general discussion of business transactions. This document dates from the Licchavi period. Hence, it can be inferred that although the official language of the period was Sanskrit, Nepal Bhasa was already in use.

Medieval era[edit]

The language continued growing in the Medieval period, and enjoyed royal patronage. Noted royal writers include Mahindra Malla, Siddhinarsingh Malla, Jagatprakash Malla etc. An example of the language used in that period is provided by lines of Mooldevshashidev written by Jagatprakash Malla[4]

धु छेगुकि पाछाव वाहान
तिलहित बिया हिङ लाहाति थाय थायस

(dhu chēguki pāchāva vāhāna : tilahita biyā hiŋa lāhāti thāya thāyasa)

which is a description of Shiva, and the use of a tiger skin as a seat for Shiva.

The language replaced Sanskrit as the administrative language during this period.


This language was the official language of Nepal from Licchavi era to Malla era of Nepal.


Classical Nepal Bhasa was introduced in ISO 639-2 code list in 2004.


  1. ^ Alan Hopkinson (2008) UNIMARC Manual: Bibliographic Format. Walter de Gruyter.
  2. ^ George L. Campbell, (2000) Compendium of the World's Languages: Ladakhi to Zuni, Volume 2.
  3. ^ Malla, Kamal P. "The Earliest Dated Document in Newari: The Palmleaf from Uku Bahah NS 234/AD 1114" (PDF). Kailash. Retrieved 18 April 2011. Pages 15-25.
  4. ^ Mooldevshashidev by Jagatprakash Malla, edited by Saraswati Tuladhar