Meitei script

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Meitei script
(Meitei: Meitei Mayek)
ꯃꯩꯇꯩ ꯃꯌꯦꯛ
"Meitei Mayek" (literally meaning "Meitei script" in Meitei language) written in Meitei script.jpg
Script type
Time period
6th century AD[1] – upto 1700 AD, 1930 – present
Directionleft-to-right Edit this on Wikidata
Region India
LanguagesMeitei language (officially known as Manipuri language)
Related scripts
Parent systems
Sister systems
Lepcha, Khema, ʼPhags-pa, Marchen
ISO 15924
ISO 15924Mtei (337), ​Meitei Mayek (Meithei, Meetei)
Unicode alias
Meetei Mayek
[a] The Semitic origin of the Brahmic scripts is not universally agreed upon.

The Meitei script (Meitei: Meitei Mayek)(ꯃꯩꯇꯩ ꯃꯌꯦꯛ) or the Meetei script (Meitei: Meetei Mayek) (ꯃꯤꯇꯩ ꯃꯌꯦꯛ) is an abugida used for the Meitei language, the official language of Manipur state of India. Its earliest known evidence of existence dates back to the 6th century AD coins, engraving the Meitei letters, as verified by the various publications of the National Sahitya Akademi.[1] It was used until the 18th century, when it was replaced by the Bengali alphabet. A few manuscripts survive. In the 20th century, the script has experienced a resurgence, and is again being used.[5] Starting from the year 2021, Meitei script (officially known as Meetei Mayek[a]) was officially used by the Government of Manipur, along with the Bengali script, to write the Meitei language, as per "The Manipur Official Language (Amendment) Act, 2021".[6]

Since Meitei does not have voiced consonants, there are only fifteen consonant letters used for native words, plus three letters for pure vowels. Nine additional consonant letters inherited from the Indic languages are available for borrowings. There are seven vowel diacritics and a final consonant (/ŋ/) diacritic. The names of the twenty-seven letters are not only phonetic names, but also based on parts of the human body.[7]

A Meitei language stone inscription in Meitei script about a royal decree of a Meitei king found in the sacred site of God Panam Ningthou in Andro, Imphal East, Manipur.


6th century - 7th century[edit]

The ancient Meitei script (old Manipuri script) is first evident in the coins issued during the eras of Meitei Kings, Ura Konthouba (568-653 AD) and Ayangba (821-910 AD). These coins are presently preserved in the Mutua Museum in Imphal.[1]

The earliest stone inscription in Meitei script found from the Khoibu village in Manipur is widely believed to of the time of King Ura Konthouba, that is around 6th-7th century CE. But there is no authenticity of the fact as of now. This Meitei inscription is presently kept in the Manipur Government Museum, Imphal.[1]

8th century[edit]

The earliest copper plate Meitei inscription dates back to the 8th century AD. It was inscribed during the reign of Meitei King Khongtekcha (c. 721 AD). It was discovered by scholar Yumjao from Phayeng village in the east of Imphal in the year 1935. It is one of the preserved earliest known written records for Meitei literature.[8][9][10]

Yumjao, the discoverer of the 8th century copper plate inscription, opined that Meitei script was developed during the 8th century, but his fact was contradicted by the evidence of the Meitei script engravings on the coins of the 6th-7th century eras. This contradiction is well noted in the Volume 1 of the Encyclopedia of Indian Literature published by the Sahitya Akademi in the year 1987.[1]

11th century[edit]

Contradictory to the various publications of the National Sahitya Akademi about the unanimous earliest attested dating of the Meitei script, many people gave personal opinions in their research works as Meitei script was developed in the 11th century, 18th century, 19th century, etc. The Meitei script is a Brahmic abugida. According to Singh (1962), an archaic form of the script had developed by the 11th century, and it was in use until the early 18th century, when it was replaced by the Bengali script.[11] By contrast, Tomba (1993) claims that the script is a development of c. 1930, with all supposedly older documents being deliberate forgeries.[12] According to K.S. Singh and Mahoharan (1993), as per the modifications of the phonemic distributions of Meitei language, the script belongs to the Tibetan group of scripts.[2]

A stone inscription found[year needed] at Khoibu in Tengnoupal district, of current Manipur state, contains royal edicts of king Senbi Kiyamba (d. 1508), representing the earliest portion of the Chietharol Kumbaba or Royal Chronicle of Manipur. It is one of the primary texts in the Meitei script.[13][better source needed]

Meitei manuscript

20th century[edit]

In 1980, a modernized version of the writing system was approved by Manipur state law for use in educational institutions.[14][15]

21st century[edit]


The modernised version of the Meitei script was encoded in Unicode in the year 2009.

2023 planning in 2022[edit]

All the newspapers in Meitei language (Manipuri language) will be using the "Meitei script" (Meitei: Meetei Mayek) instead of the Bengali script from 15 January 2023; 3 months' time (2023-01-15), according to a joint meeting consensus of the "Meetei Erol Eyek Loinasillol Apunba Lup" (MEELAL), "All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union" (AMWJU) and "Editors' Guild Manipur" (EGM) in Imphal.[16][17][18][19][20]

Letter names[edit]

The eighteen ancient Meitei letters

One of the unique features of this script is the use of body parts in naming the letters.[21] Every letter is named after a human body part in the Meitei language. For example, the first letter "kok" means "head"; the second letter "sam" means "hair"; the third letter "lai" means "forehead", and so on. This is corroborated from the holybook "Wakoklol Heelel Theelel Salai Amailol Pukok Puya", which details how each script originated received its nomenclature.[22]

Letter Name Latin IPA[23]
kok K /k/
sam S /s/
lai L /l/
mit M /m/
pa P /p/
na N /n/
chil Ch /t͡ʃ/
til T /t/
khou Kh /kʰ/
ngou Ng /ŋ/
thou Th /tʰ/
wai W /w/
yang Y /j/
huk H /h/
un U /u(ː)/
ee I or E /i(ː)/
pham F or Ph /pʰ/
atiya A /ɐ/
gok G /g/
jham Jh /d͡ʒʱ/
rai R /ɾ/
ba B /b/
jil J /d͡ʒ/
dil D /d/
ghou Gh /gʱ/
dhou Dh /dʱ/
bham Bh /bʱ/
Syllable-coda (Lonsum) Letters
Lonsum letter Name Derived from Mapung Mayek letter
kok lonsum
lai lonsum
mit lonsum
pa lonsum
na lonsum
til lonsum
ngou lonsum
ee lonsum

Suffix letters or addendum used[edit]

Cheitap letters(Cheitap mayek)
Cheitap mayek Name IPA Latin Example
aa-tap /a/ a Karl (ꯀꯥꯔꯜ)
ee-nap /i/ e or i King (ꯀꯤꯡ), Feel (ꯐꯤꯜ)
uu-nap /u/ u or oo Cool (ꯀꯨꯜ), Fumigate (ꯐꯨꯃꯤꯒꯦꯠ)
yet-nap /e/ ay or e Bay (ꯕꯦ), Kentuk (ꯀꯦꯟꯇꯨꯛ)
ot-nap /o/ o Boy (ꯕꯣꯌ), Cold (ꯀꯣꯜꯗ)
chei-nap /ej/ ei Heifer (ꯍꯩꯐꯔ), Feign (ꯐꯩꯟ)
sou-nap /ow/ ou or ow Soul (ꯁꯧꯜ), Hou (ꯍꯧ), Bowl (ꯕꯧꯜ)
nung or noong /ɐŋ/ ang or ng Anglo (ꯑꯪꯒꯂꯣ), Kangla (ꯀꯪꯂꯥ)


Arabic numerals 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Meitei numerals
Names ꯐꯨꯟ


The Meitei script was added to the Unicode Standard in October, 2009 with the release of version 5.2.


The Unicode block for the Meitei script, called Meetei Mayek, is U+ABC0 – U+ABFF.

Characters for historical orthographies are part of the Meetei Mayek Extensions block at U+AAE0 – U+AAFF.

Meetei Mayek[1][2]
Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F
1.^ As of Unicode version 15.0
2.^ Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points
Meetei Mayek Extensions[1][2]
Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F
1.^ As of Unicode version 15.0
2.^ Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points


A typical Meitei Mayek keyboard

Meitei Mayek keyboards and other input methods are available at or supported by:

  1. Gboard
  2. Apple iOS 13
  3. Linux
  4. Macintosh operating systems
  5. Microsoft SwiftKey
  6. Windows

Sample text[edit]

The following is a Meitei language sample text of the Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (by the United Nations) in Meitei script, its romanisation, its IPA and its English version:[24]

ꯃꯤꯑꯣꯏꯕ ꯈꯨꯗꯤꯡꯃꯛ ꯄꯣꯛꯄ ꯃꯇꯝꯗ ꯅꯤꯡꯇꯝꯃꯤ, ꯑꯃꯗꯤ ꯏꯖꯖꯠ ꯑꯃꯁꯨꯡ ꯍꯛ ꯃꯥꯟꯅꯅ ꯂꯧꯖꯩ ꯫ ꯃꯈꯣꯏ ꯄꯨꯝꯅꯃꯛ ꯋꯥꯈꯜ ꯂꯧꯁꯤꯡ ꯁꯦꯡꯏ, ꯑꯐ ꯐꯠꯇ ꯈꯪꯏ, ꯑꯗꯨꯅ ꯑꯃꯅ ꯑꯃꯒ ꯂꯣꯏꯅꯕ ꯃꯇꯝꯗ ꯃꯆꯤꯟ ꯃꯅꯥꯎꯒꯨꯝꯅ ꯂꯣꯏꯅꯒꯗꯕꯅꯤ ꯫

— Meitei-language translation in Meitei script

Mioiba khudingmak pokpa matamda ningtammi amadi ijjat amasung hak mānnana leijei, makhoi pumnamak wākhal loushing shengi, apha phatta khangi, aduna amana amaga loinabada machin manāogumna loinagadabani.

— The passage in Roman transliteration

míːójbə kʰud̯íŋmək pókpə mət̯ə̀md̯ə níːŋt̯ə̀mmi, əməd̯i iːdʒət əməʃùng hə́k màːnənə lɐ̀jdʒɐ̀j. məkʰój púmnəmək wakʰə̀l lə̀wʃiŋ ʃèŋi, əpʱə̀ pʱə́ːt̯ə kʰə́ŋi, əd̯unə əmənə əməgə lòjnəbəd̯ə mət͡ʃìn mənáwgùmnə lójnəgəd̯əbəni'.

— The passage in IPA

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

— The passage in English version

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The terms, "Meitei", "Meetei" and "Manipuri" are synonymous. While "Meitei" is more popular than "Meetei", "Meetei" is the officially mentioned synonym of the term "Manipuri".


  1. ^ a b c d e Datta, Amaresh (1987). Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature. Sahitya Akademi. p. 142. ISBN 978-81-260-1803-1.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  2. ^ a b Chelliah, Shobhana Lakshmi (2011). A Grammar of Meithei. De Gruyter. p. 355. ISBN 9783110801118. Meithei Mayek is part of the Tibetan group of scripts,which originated from the Gupta Brahmi script
  3. ^ Singh, Harimohon Thounaojam (January 2011), The Evolution and Recent Development of the Meetei Mayek Script, Cambridge University Press India, p. 28
  4. ^ Hyslop, Gwendolyn; Morey, Stephen; Post, Mark W (January 2011). North East Indian Linguistics Volume 3. Cambridge University Press India. ISBN 9788175967939.
  5. ^ Laithangbam, Iboyaima (23 September 2017). "Banished Manipuri script stages a comeback". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 25 August 2021.
  6. ^ "GAZETTE TITLE: The Manipur Official Language (Amendment) Act, 2021".
  7. ^ Ray, Sohini (2009). "Writing the Body: Cosmology, Orthography, and Fragments of Modernity in Northeastern India". Anthropological Quarterly. 82 (1): 150. ISSN 0003-5491. JSTOR 25488260.
  8. ^ Devi, Dr Yumlembam Gopi. Glimpses of Manipuri Culture. p. 25. ISBN 978-0-359-72919-7.
  9. ^ Paniker, K. Ayyappa (1997). Medieval Indian Literature: Surveys and selections (Assamese-Dogri). Sahitya Akademi. p. 325. ISBN 978-81-260-0365-5.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  10. ^ Sen, Sipra (1 January 1992). Tribes and Castes of Manipur: Description and Select Bibliography. Mittal Publications. p. 28. ISBN 978-81-7099-310-0.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  11. ^ K.B. Singh, The Meiteis of Manipur (1989 [1962]), p. 157.
  12. ^ Frans Welman, Out of Isolation – Exploring a Forgotten World (2011), 468f., citing O.Tomba, The Need to rewrite Manipuri History, Imphal, 1993.
  13. ^ Everson, Michael (20 September 2006). "Preliminary Proposal for Encoding the Meithei Mayek Script in the BMP of the UCS" (PDF). Unicode.
  14. ^ "Approved Meitei Mayek Govt Gazzette 1980". Retrieved 31 July 2019.
  15. ^ Devi, S. (May 2013). "Is Manipuri an Endangered Language?" (PDF). Language in India. 13 (5): 520–533.
  16. ^ "Meetei Mayek in newspapers". Retrieved 3 August 2022.
  17. ^ "Meetei Mayek in newspapers : 29th jan22 ~ E-Pao! Headlines". Retrieved 3 August 2022.
  18. ^ Time, Pratidin. "Meetei Mayek to Replace Bengali Script in Manipuri Newspapers from 2023". Pratidin Time. Retrieved 3 August 2022.
  19. ^ HYNews. "All Bengali script Manipuri Dailies in Manipur to Print in Meitei Eyek (Script) from 15th January 2023". Retrieved 3 August 2022.
  20. ^ "State dailies to cease Bengali script Manipuri papers from Jan, 2023 : 29th jan22 ~ E-Pao! Headlines". Retrieved 3 August 2022.
  21. ^ "A comparative study of Meetei Mayek" (PDF). typoday. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  22. ^ Ray, Sohini (2009). "Writing the Body: Cosmology, Orthography, and Fragments of Modernity in Northeastern India". Anthropological Quarterly. 82 (1): 129–154. doi:10.1353/anq.0.0047. ISSN 0003-5491. JSTOR 25488260. S2CID 140755509.
  23. ^ "Manipuri (Meeteilon / Meithei)". Omniglot. Retrieved 28 March 2021.
  24. ^ "Manipuri language and alphabets". Retrieved 12 August 2022.


  • Chelliah, Shobhana L. (1997). A grammar of Meithei. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. ISBN 0-19-564331-3.
  • Chelliah, Shobhana L. (2002). Early Meithei manuscripts. In C. I. Beckwith (Ed.), Medieval Tibeto-Burman languages: PIATS 2000: Tibetan studies: Proceedings of the ninth seminar of the International Association of Tibetan Studies, Leiden 2000 (pp. 59–71). Leiden, Netherlands: Brill.
  • Chelliah, Shobhana L. (2002). A glossary of 39 basic words in archaic and modern Meithei. In C. I. Beckwith (Ed.), Medieval Tibeto-Burman languages: PIATS 2000: Tibetan studies: Proceedings of the ninth seminar of the International Association of Tibetan Studies, Leiden 2000 (pp. 189–190). Leiden, Netherlands: Brill.

External links[edit]