Kadamba alphabet

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Languages Kannada, Sanskrit, Konkani, Marathi
Time period
5th century-10th century

The Kadamba script (known as Pre Old-Kannada script) marks the birth of a dedicated script for writing Kannada. It is a descendant of the Brahmi script, an abugida[1] visually close to the Kalinga alphabet.[2] The Kadamba script was developed during the reign of the Kadamba dynasty in the 4th-6th centuries. The Kadamba script is also known as Pre-Old-Kannada script. This script later became popular in what is today the state of Goa and was used to write Sanskrit, Kannada, Konkani and Marathi.

The Kadamba script is one of the oldest of the southern group of South Asian scripts that evolved from the Brahmi script. By 5th century CE it became different from other Brahmi variants and was used in southern Indian states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. It evolved into the Old Kannada script by the 10th century CE and was used to write Kannada and Telugu.[3][4]

Many scripts were derived from Kadamba script, including the Pyu script.


sri manarashi written in Kadamba script on Kadamba coin
Coin of Kadamba king Sri Manarashi, name written in Kadamba script
Coin of the Kadambas written in Kadamba script as sri dosharashi and other side Shri shashankaha
sri dosharashi written in Kadamba script on Kadamba coin

During (325 to 550 AD) the rule of Kadambas major change in the Brahmi script evolved into Kadamba Kannada script, letters were shorter and round in shape. During (325 to 1000 AD) the rule of Gangas southern parts of Karnataka the Kannada script used differently (also known as Ganga script) in rock edicts and copper plate inscriptions. During 6th to 10th century AD the Kannada script stabilized during the rule of Badami Chalukyas (called Chalukya script 500-1000 AD[5]) and Rastrakutas.[6]

The Old Kannada (Halegannada/Halekannada) script is the continuation of Kadamba script used to write Kannada and Telugu, basically the Old Kannada is also known as the Telugu-Kannada script.[7]

Brahmi -> Kadamba -> Old Kannada -> Kannada and Telugu scripts[8]

Similar scripts

Bhattiprolu and Gupta the similar scripts to Kadamba script

Goykanadi, Bhattiprolu script, Salankayana script,[9] Pallava script and Gupta script[10] a family of alphasyllabaries or abugidas has some similarity.[11]

Sinhala script is closely related to Grantha script and Old Khmer script[12] (closely related to Kadamba-Pallava script) taken the elements from Kadamba script.[13]

Indian Writing Systems Comparison:[14]

Kadamba Kannada script with Latin correspondences.
File:Kaadamba script(5th century AD).JPG.jpg
Kadamba Kannada script, 5th century CE.

Kadamba-Pallava script

Kadamba-Pallava script

During the rule of Pallavas, the script accompanied priests, monks, scholars and traders into South East Asia. Pallavas developed a script based on Brahmi, main characteristics of the newer script are aesthetically matched and fuller consonant glyphs. Similar to Pallava script, also visible in the writing systems of Chalukya,[15] Kadamba, Vengi at the time of Ikshvakus. Brahmi design iwas slightly different of the scripts of Cholas, Pandyas and Cheras. Pallava script very first significant developments of Brahmi in India, take care in combining rounded and rectangular strokes and adding typographical effects, was suitable for civic and religious inscriptions. Kadamba-Pallava script[16] evolved into early forms of Kannada and Telugu scripts. Glyphs become more rounded and incorporate loops because of writing upon leaves and paper. The scripts which are descended from the Kadamba-Pallava script are Pyu script,[17] Mon, Kawi, Lanna, Tham, Khom, Khmer, Thai, Lao and Tai Lue.[18]

Inscriptions in Kadamba script

  • Inscription of 4th Century AD of Vengi Vijayanandivarma in Kadamba script[19]
  • Gudnapur Inscription on 20-foot long stone pillar written in Kadamba script[20]
  • Copper plate inscriptions in Kadamba (Pre - Chalukya) script, Kadamba-Pallava script, Telugu-Kannada script are available at Chennai museum[21]

See also

Standard indic table


  1. "Types of Writing Systems". Ancient Scripts. Retrieved 2014-03-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Kalinga". Ancient Scripts. Retrieved 2014-03-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Scripts fading away with time". Retrieved 2013-08-28.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Kadamba script". Retrieved 2013-08-28.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Encyclopedic Dictionary of Archaeology edited by Barbara Ann Kipfer - Pg No 692 Writing and Archaeology: A Timeline". Retrieved 2013-08-28.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "A BRIEF HISTORY OF EVOLUTION OF KANNADA SCRIPTS:". Retrieved 2013-08-28.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Old Kannada". Retrieved 2013-08-28.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "South Asian Writing Systems". Ancient Scripts. Retrieved 2014-03-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. http://www.skyknowledge.com/brahmi-pallava.jpg
  10. "Gupta". Ancient Scripts. Retrieved 2014-03-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. http://qph.is.quoracdn.net/main-qimg-b89c2602830ce52943cc344ea425b043
  12. http://learnkhmer.net/Oldkhmerinvitationrev.jpg
  13. "Sinhala script". 2012-08-31. Retrieved 2013-08-28.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "South Asian Writing Systems Comparison". Ancient Scripts. Retrieved 2014-03-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. http://www.skyknowledge.com/burnell-plate4.gif
  16. "Pallava script". Skyknowledge.com. 2014-02-02. Retrieved 2014-03-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. http://lionslayer.yoeyar.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Pallava-a-Pyu-equivalent-script.jpg
  18. "Pallava - an important ancient script from South India". Retrieved 2013-09-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. http://www.skyknowledge.com/vengi-4thC-specimen.jpg
  20. Rajiv Ajjibal (2011-12-16). "Monuments crying for attention". The Hindu. Retrieved 2014-03-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "Government Museum Chennai". Chennaimuseum.org. Retrieved 2014-03-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

In Development of Brahmi script (6th column), further the second column script is same as Kadamba script