Gunjala Gondi Lipi
|Gunjala Gondi Lipi|
|Unknown, thought to be similar to Devanagari and Modi|
The Gunjala Gondi lipi or Gunjala Gondi script is a recently discovered script used to write the Gondi language, a Dravidian language spoken by the Gond people of northern Telangana, eastern Maharashtra, southeastern Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh. Approximately a dozen manuscripts in the script were recovered from Gunjala, a Gond village in Adilabad district of Telangana by a team of researchers from the University of Hyderabad, led by Professor Jayadheer Tirumala Rao. The script and preliminary font were unveiled in early 2014.
History of Manuscripts
The manuscripts have been dated to approximately 1750, based on knowledge from Gondi pundits and researchers at the Center of Dalit and Adivasi Studies and Translation (CDAST). The information contained in the manuscripts includes that of the names of the months and days, a horoscope chart, grammar, and numbers. Additionally, manuscripts were found on "knowledge of the seasons, history, and the Gondi code of ethics and literature." Of the historical information that has been discovered, the following cases have been reported: the 6th-7th century trade relationship between the Pardhan community and civilizations in Myanmar; the origins of the Indravelli mandal; the early eighteenth century rebellions of the Chandrapur Gond kings against the British, with the support of the Rohilla community, all of this among other pieces of information.
The characters themselves, while bearing resemblance to similar phonemes found in other Indian scripts, are in a different, "native" order, as the script starts with the letter "ya" instead of the traditional "ka" for other Indian scripts. The script includes 12 vowels and 25 consonants.
Response to Discovery, Education, and Spread
The script has seen a very welcoming response by the various government agencies in Andhra Pradesh, at the national level, and local agencies in the region. The existence of the manuscripts has allegedly been known for 5–9 years, but were not prioritized until 2013, when Prof. Jayadheer Tirumala Rao discovered that only four elders in the village were still able to read the script. Currently, approximately eighty students are able to read the script, with students devising stories and elder Kotnak Jangu writing an autobiography. Plans are in place for the expansion of the script to fifteen other government schools in villages with a high Gond population. A reader for the script in Telugu was released for Standard I students. Efforts are being undertaken to standardize the font for the language.