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Tirhuta, Mithilakshar
Languages Maithili, Sanskrit
Time period
c. 15th–mid 20th century
Direction Left-to-right
ISO 15924 Tirh, 326
Unicode alias


Final Accepted Script Proposal

Tirhuta (तिरहुता / তিরহুতা) or Mithilakshar (मिथिलाक्षर / মিথিলাক্ষর) is the script used for the Maithili language originated in Present-day Janakpur in Mithila region of Nepal and the oldest reference to Tirhuta Script is in Janaki Mandir of Janakpur where Rama and Sita wed.[1] The script has a rich history spanning a thousand years, but years of neglect by Nepal and the Bihar government have taken their toll on the use of Tirhuta. Most speakers of Maithili have switched to using the Devanagari script, which is also used to write neighboring Central Indic languages such as Nepali and Hindi. As a result, the number of people with a working knowledge of Tirhuta has dropped considerably in recent years.


The related script used in West Bengal and Bangladesh is commonly called Bengali alphabet. In fact, many letters of Bengali alphabet (e.g. ক /k/, খ /kʰ/, দ /d̪/, জ /dʒ/) are written the same in both Tirhuta and Bengali. Nevertheless, there are sufficient differences between the two scripts to somewhat impede mutual comprehension. For example, the letter representing the sound /r/ in Tirhuta has the same form as the Bengali letter ব /b/, and the Bengali letter র /r/ has the same shape as the Tirhuta letter /w/. Furthermore, many of the conjunct letters and vowel signs mean different things in the two scripts. For example, the conjunct ত্ত represents a geminate voiceless unaspirated dental stop /t̪/ in Bengali script, but it represents the syllable /t̪u/ in Mithilakshar.

History and current status[edit]

The oldest specimen of Tirhuta is a Janaki Mandir at Nepal. It is one of the place that had a major role in the development of the Sanskrit language. Despite the near universal switch from Tirhuta to the Devanagari script for writing Maithili, some traditional pundits still use the script for sending one another ceremonial letters (pātā) related to some important function such as marriage. Fonts for this script were developed in 2003. [2]

The 2003 inclusion of Maithili in the VIIIth Schedule of the Indian Constitution having accorded official recognition to it as a language independent of Hindi, there is a possibility that this might lead to efforts to reimplement Tirhuta on a wider basis, in accord with similar trends in India reinforcing separate identities.

Signs of the script[edit]

Consonant signs[edit]

Sign Transcription
Image Text IAST IPA
Tirhuta letter KA 𑒏 ka /kа/
Tirhuta letter KHA 𑒐 kha /kʰа/
Tirhuta letter GA 𑒑 ga /gа/
Tirhuta letter GHA 𑒒 gha /gʱа/
Tirhuta letter NGA 𑒓 ṅa /ŋа/
Tirhuta letter CA 𑒔 ca /t͡ʃa/
Tirhuta letter CHA 𑒕 cha /t͡ʃʰa/
Tirhuta letter JA 𑒖 ja /d͡ʒa/
Tirhuta letter JHA 𑒗 jha /d͡ʒʱa/
Tirhuta letter NYA 𑒘 ña /ɲa/
Tirhuta letter TTA 𑒙 ṭa /ʈa/
Tirhuta letter TTHA 𑒚 ṭha /ʈʰa/
Tirhuta letter DDA 𑒛 ḍa /ɖa/
Tirhuta letter DDHA 𑒜 ḍha /ɖʱa/
Tirhuta letter NNA 𑒝 ṇa /ɳa/
Tirhuta letter TA 𑒞 ta /t̪a/
Tirhuta letter THA 𑒟 tha /t̪ʰa/
Tirhuta letter DA 𑒠 da /d̪a/
Tirhuta letter DHA 𑒡 dha /d̪ʱa/
Tirhuta letter NA 𑒢 na /na/
Tirhuta letter PA 𑒣 pa /pa/
Tirhuta letter PHA 𑒤 pha /pʰa/
Tirhuta letter BA 𑒥 ba /ba/
Tirhuta letter BHA 𑒦 bha /bʱa/
Tirhuta letter MA 𑒧 ma /ma/
Tirhuta letter YA 𑒨 ya /ja/
Tirhuta letter RA 𑒩 ra /ra/
Tirhuta letter LA 𑒪 la /la/
Tirhuta letter VA 𑒫 va /ʋa/
Tirhuta letter SHA 𑒬 śa /ʃa/
Tirhuta letter SSA 𑒭 ṣa /ʂa/
Tirhuta letter SA 𑒮 sa /sa/
Tirhuta letter HA 𑒯 ha /ɦa/


Independent Dependent Transcription
Image Text Image Text IAST IPA
Tirhuta letter A 𑒁 a /а/
Tirhuta letter АА 𑒂 Tirhuta vowel sign АА  𑒰 ā /а:/
Tirhuta letter І 𑒃 Tirhuta vowel sign І  𑒱 і /і/
Tirhuta letter ІІ 𑒄 Tirhuta vowel sign ІІ  𑒲 ī /і:/
Tirhuta letter U 𑒅 Tirhuta vowel sign U  𑒳 u /u/
Tirhuta letter UU 𑒆 Tirhuta vowel sign UU  𑒴 ū /u:/
Tirhuta letter vocalic R 𑒇 Tirhuta vowel sign vocalic R  𑒵 /r̩/
Tirhuta letter vocalic RR 𑒈 Tirhuta vowel sign vocalic RR  𑒶 /r̩ː/
Tirhuta letter vocalic L 𑒉 Tirhuta vowel sign vocalic L  𑒷 /l̩/
Tirhuta letter vocalic LL 𑒊 Tirhuta vowel sign vocalic LL  𑒸 /l̩ː/
Tirhuta letter Е 𑒋 Tirhuta vowel sign ЕЕ  𑒹 ē /е:/
Tirhuta vowel sign Е  𑒺 e /е/
Tirhuta letter АІ 𑒌 Tirhuta vowel sign АІ  𑒻 аі /аі/
Tirhuta letter О 𑒍 Tirhuta vowel sign ОО  𑒼 ō /о:/
Tirhuta vowel sign О  𑒽 о /о/
Tirhuta letter AU 𑒎 Tirhuta vowel sign АU  𑒾 аu /аu/

Other signs[edit]

Other dependent signs
Image Text Name Notes
Tirhuta sign candrabindu  𑒿 candrabindu marks the nasalization of a vowel
Tirhuta sign anusvara  𑓀 anusvara marks nasalization
Tirhuta sign visarga  𑓁 visarga marks the sound [h], which is an allophone of [r] and [s] in pausa (at the end of an utterance)
Tirhuta sign virama  𑓂 virama used to suppress the inherent vowel
Tirhuta sign nukta  𑓃 nukta used to create new consonant signs
Tirhuta sign avagraha 𑓄 avagraha used to indicate prodelision of an [a]
Tirhuta sign gvang 𑓅 gvang used to mark nasalization


Tirhuta script uses its own signs for the positional decimal numeral system.

Image Tirhuta numeral 0 Tirhuta numeral 1 Tirhuta numeral 2 Tirhuta numeral 3 Tirhuta numeral 4 Tirhuta numeral 5 Tirhuta numeral 6 Tirhuta numeral 7 Tirhuta numeral 8 Tirhuta numeral 9
Text 𑓐 𑓑 𑓒 𑓓 𑓔 𑓕 𑓖 𑓗 𑓘 𑓙
Digit 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Image gallery[edit]

The first two images shown below are samples illustrating the history of Tirhuta. The first is the sacred sign of Ganesha, called āñjī, used for millennia by students before beginning Tirhuta studies. Displayed further below are images of tables comparing the Tirhuta and Devanagari scripts.


Tirhuta script was added to the Unicode Standard in June 2014 with the release of version 7.0.

The Unicode block for Tirhuta is U+11480–U+114DF:

Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F
U+1148x 𑒀 𑒁 𑒂 𑒃 𑒄 𑒅 𑒆 𑒇 𑒈 𑒉 𑒊 𑒋 𑒌 𑒍 𑒎 𑒏
U+1149x 𑒐 𑒑 𑒒 𑒓 𑒔 𑒕 𑒖 𑒗 𑒘 𑒙 𑒚 𑒛 𑒜 𑒝 𑒞 𑒟
U+114Ax 𑒠 𑒡 𑒢 𑒣 𑒤 𑒥 𑒦 𑒧 𑒨 𑒩 𑒪 𑒫 𑒬 𑒭 𑒮 𑒯
U+114Bx 𑒰 𑒱 𑒲 𑒳 𑒴 𑒵 𑒶 𑒷 𑒸 𑒹 𑒺 𑒻 𑒼 𑒽 𑒾 𑒿
U+114Cx 𑓀 𑓁 𑓂 𑓃 𑓄 𑓅 𑓆 𑓇
U+114Dx 𑓐 𑓑 𑓒 𑓓 𑓔 𑓕 𑓖 𑓗 𑓘 𑓙
1.^ As of Unicode version 8.0
2.^ Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points


  1. ^ Pandey, Anshuman. "oldest reference to Tirhuta Script in Janaki Mandir where Maithili language originated" (PDF). Retrieved 3 July 2014. 
  2. ^ Pandey, Anshuman. "N4035: Proposal to Encode the Tirhuta Script in ISO/IEC 10646" (PDF). Retrieved 3 July 2014. 

External links[edit]

  1. free Download Tirhuta (Maithili) Fonts
  2. Tirhuta Lipi: Native Script of Maithili
  3. Mithila Online
  4. Learn Mithilakshara by Gajendra Thakur