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Tirhuta script

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Script type
Time period
c. 13th century–present day[1]
DirectionLeft-to-right Edit this on Wikidata
LanguagesMaithili, Sanskrit
Related scripts
Parent systems
Sister systems
Bengali–Assamese, Odia
ISO 15924
ISO 15924Tirh (326), ​Tirhuta
Unicode alias
Final Accepted Script Proposal

The Tirhuta or Maithili script was the primary historical script for the Maithili language, as well as one of the historical scripts for Sanskrit. It is believed to have originated in the 10th century CE. It is very similar to Bengali–Assamese script, with most consonants being effectively identical in appearance. For the most part, writing in Maithili has switched to the Devanagari script, which is used to write neighbouring Central Indic languages to the west and north such as Hindi and Nepali, and the number of people with a working knowledge of Tirhuta has dropped considerably in recent years.

12th Century Stone inscription from Simroungarh showing early Tirhuta writing

History and current status[edit]

Before 14th CE, Tirhuta was exclusively used to write Sanskrit, later Maithili was written in this script. 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. Metal type for this script was first produced in the 1920s, and digital fonts in the 1990s.[1]

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 re-implement Tirhuta on a wider basis, in accord with similar trends in India reinforcing separate identities. However, currently, only Maithili in the Devanagari script is officially recognized.


Consonant letters[edit]

Most of the consonant letters are effectively identical to Bengali–Assamese. The Unicode submission, for example, only bothered to create new graphic designs for 7 of the 33 letters: ⟨jh, ṭ, ḍh, ṇ, l, ś, h⟩.

Image Text IAST IPA
𑒏 ka /kə/
𑒐 kha /kʰə/
𑒑 ga /gə/
𑒒 gha /gʱə/
𑒓 ṅa /ŋə/
𑒔 ca /t͡ʃə/
𑒕 cha /t͡ʃʰə/
𑒖 ja /d͡ʒə/
𑒗 jha /d͡ʒʱə/
𑒘 ña /ɲə/
𑒙 ṭa /ʈə/
𑒚 ṭha /ʈʰə/
𑒛 ḍa /ɖə/
𑒜 ḍha /ɖʱə/
𑒝 ṇa /ɳə/
𑒞 ta /t̪ə/
𑒟 tha /t̪ʰə/
𑒠 da /d̪ə/
𑒡 dha /d̪ʱə/
𑒢 na /nə/
𑒣 pa /pə/
𑒤 pha /pʰə/
𑒥 ba /bə/
𑒦 bha /bʱə/
𑒧 ma /mə/
𑒨 ya /jə/
𑒩 ra /rə/
𑒪 la /lə/
𑒫 - va /ʋə/
𑒬 śa /ʃə/
𑒭 ṣa /ʂə/
𑒮 sa /sə/
𑒯 ha /ɦə/


Independent Dependent Transcription
Image Text Image Text IAST IPA
𑒁 a /а/
𑒂  𑒰 ā /аː/
𑒃  𑒱 і /і/
𑒄  𑒲 ī /іː/
𑒅  𑒳 u /u/
𑒆  𑒴 ū /uː/
𑒇  𑒵 /r̩/
𑒈  𑒶 /r̩ː/
𑒉  𑒷 /l̩/
𑒊  𑒸 /l̩ː/
𑒋  𑒹 ē /еː/
 𑒺 e /е/
𑒌  𑒻 аі /аі/
𑒍  𑒼 ō /оː/
 𑒽 о /о/
𑒎  𑒾 аu /аu/

Other signs[edit]

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


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

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 15.1
2.^ Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points


  1. ^ a b Pandey, Anshuman (5 May 2011). "N4035: Proposal to Encode the Tirhuta Script in ISO/IEC 10646" (PDF). Working Group Document, ISO/IEC JTC1/SC2/WG2. Archived (PDF) from the original on 13 December 2016.
  2. ^ Daniels, Peter T. (January 2008). "Writing systems of major and minor languages". {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ Salomon, Richard (1998). Indian Epigraphy. p. 41.

External links[edit]