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Pamagkulit, Súlat Kapampángan
Script type
Time period
c.1600s[1][2] - Present
Directionright-to-left script, top-to-bottom Edit this on Wikidata
Related scripts
Parent systems
Sister systems
In the Philippines:
Tagbanwa script In other countries:
 This article contains phonetic transcriptions in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA. For the distinction between [ ], / / and ⟨ ⟩, see IPA § Brackets and transcription delimiters.

Kulitan (Spanish: cúlitan), also known as súlat Kapampángan and pamagkulit, is one of the various indigenous suyat[3] writing systems in the Philippines. It was used for writing Kapampangan, a language mainly spoken in Central Luzon, until it was gradually supplanted by the Latin alphabet.

Kulitan is an abugida, or an alphasyllabary — a segmental writing system in wherein consonant–vowel sequences are written as a unit and possess an inherent vowel sound that can be altered with use of diacritical marks. There is a proposal to encode the script in Unicode by Anshuman Pandey, from the Department of Linguistics at UC Berkeley.[4] There are also proposals to revive the script by teaching it in Kapampangan-majority public and private schools.[3]


While the precise origins of kulitan are uncertain,[1] it ultimately derives from the South Asian Brāhmī script. Pampanga had already developed special shapes for four letters by the early 1600s, different from the ones used elsewhere in the Spanish colony. What is used today, however, is a modernized version of the ancient script that employs consonant stacking,[2][5] bringing it closer to other Brahmic scripts such as Burmese, Khmer and Tibetan.

Philippine nationalists of Pampangan ethnicity, such as Aurelio Tolentino and Zoilo Hilario, had employed kulitan in their writings in their efforts to expel the Spaniards and repel the invading Americans.[1] There are currently active attempts to revive the use of the script.[6]


The indigenous characters were recorded as culit by the early 17th and 18th century Spanish lexicographers (Benavente, 1699 and Bergaño, 1732).[7][8] This served as inspiration for the name "Kulitan" which was recently coined to refer to the modern writing system. The ordinary folks simply called them Súlat Kapampángan to distinguish them from the Latin script.

Kulitan is made up of Indûng Súlat, or the "progenitor" (literally "mother") characters, and the Anak Súlat, or the "offspring" (literally "child") characters. The Indûng Súlat are the base characters with the unaltered inherent vowel sounds. They are the building blocks of Súlat Kapampángan. Indûng súlat gives birth to Anak Súlat or "offspring" characters whenever their inherent vowel sound has been altered by a ligature or a diacritical mark.

The siuálâ or vowels in Kulitan are usually written as garlit[9] or diacritical marks placed above or below an individual Indûng Súlat or "mother" character. Ligatures are also sometimes used to further lengthen these vowel sounds or represent the monophthongized diphthongs AI (E) and AU (O). A glyph with a diacritical mark or ligature attached to it is an Anak Súlat or "offspring" character. A consonant can lose its following vowel if written at the right side of the preceding consonant.

The recital order of the Indûng Súlat characters are A, I, U, E, O, GA, KA, NGA, TA, DA, NA, LA, SA, MA, PA, BA.[10]

Direction of writing[edit]

Man writing on a large sheet of paper on a floor
A Kapampangan calligraphist writes in Kulitan script during the inauguration of the University of the Philippines Diliman's Extension Program on Pampanga's new campus.

Historic:Text direction LTRdown.svg, Traditional:Text direction TDleft.svg, Modern:Text direction TDleft.svg

Kulitan is currently the only indigenous script in the Philippines that is written and read vertically from top to bottom and from right to left. In contrast, the Surat Mangyan, Hanunóo and Buhid scripts are written vertically from bottom to top and from left to right but read in any orientation.

Handwritten samples and signatures found in 17th century land deeds at the University of Santo Tomas Archives indicate that Kulitan was rarely written vertically,[11] but the written form may have changed during that particular period because of colonial influence. Historic catalogues of precolonial Filipino scripts point to a right-to-left and top-to-bottom writing direction, as with sister scripts of Tagalog and Tagbanwa.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Kulitan alphabet and Kapampangan language and prounciation". www.omniglot.com.
  2. ^ a b "Christopher Ray Miller's answer to Is Baybayin really a writing system in the entire pre-hispanic Philippines? What's the basis for making it a national writing system if pre-hispanic kingdoms weren't homogenous? - Quora". www.quora.com.
  3. ^ a b Orejas, Tonette. "Protect all PH writing systems, heritage advocates urge Congress". newsinfo.inquirer.net.
  4. ^ Pandey, Anshuman (October 5, 2015). "Towards an encoding for Kulitan in Unicode" (PDF).
  5. ^ Modern derivations of historical scripts are not unusual, with two of the latest being the Saurashtra and New Tai Lü scripts. The Latin and Cyrillic scripts themselves had been derived from the Greek.
  6. ^ https://www.sinupan.org/2019/01/12/learn-kulitan/
  7. ^ de Benavente, Alvaro (1699). "Arte y Vocabulario de la lengua Pampanga". Juan D. Nepomuceno Center for Kapampangan Studies & The Spanish Program for Cultural Cooperation, Philippines.
  8. ^ Bergaño, Diego (1732). "Vocabulario de Pampango en Romance y Diccionario de Romance en Pampango". Juan D. Nepomuceno Center for Kapampangan Studies & National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Philippines.
  9. ^ Hilario, Zoilo (1962). "Bayung Sunis". Akademyang Kapampangan, Philippines.
  10. ^ Pangilinan, Michael (2012). "An introduction to Kulitan, the indigenous Kapampangan script". Center for Kapampangan Studies, Philippines.
  11. ^ Miller, Christopher Ray (2011). "Filipino Cultural Heritage in the UST Archives: Baybayin scripts in 17th century land deeds". University of Santo Tomas, Philippines.

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