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Kadamba alphabet

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 Kannada script that was used for Kannada language. It is a descendant of the Brahmi script Syllabic Alphabet or Abugida[1] visually close to Kalinga script.[2] The Kadamba script was developed during the reign of the Kadambas 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 languages.[3][4]

Many scripts were derived from Kadamba script including Pyu script.


sri manarashi written in Kadamba script on Kadamba coin
File:Coin of Kadamba king Sri Manarashi.jpg
Coin of Kadamba king Sri Manarashi, name written in Kadamba script
File:Coin of Kadamba king Sri Dosharashi.jpg
Coin of the Kadambas written in Kadamba script as sri dosharashi and other side Shri shashankaha
File:Kannada legend of Sri-dosharashi.jpg
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]

Beyond Brahmi the Indus text shaped Kannada script

File:Indus Script and Brahmi Script.gif
Hunter's identification of Indus Signs

It is identified from the Indus text that the presence of script for Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, Sanskrit and Prakrit. There is a similarity of Kannada, Telugu and Tamil like consonants in Indus text. The analysis has traced the origins of the Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Prakrit and Devanagari scripts back to the Indus Civilisation. Kannada and Tamil signs identified in the Indus text, comb and arrow signs identified with medial vowel signs in Kannada. A match between fish like signs in Indus text and Kannada script found.[9]

Similar scripts

Bhattiprolu and Gupta the similar scripts to Kadamba script

Goykanadi, Bhattiprolu script, Salankayana script,[10] Pallava script and Gupta script[11] a family of alphasyllabaries or abugidas has some similarity.[12]

Sinhala script is closely related to Grantha script and Old Khmer script[13] (closely related to Kadamba-Pallava script) taken the elements from Kadamba script.[14]

Indian Writing Systems Comparison:[15]

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

Kadamba-Pallava script

Main article: Pallava script
File:Huruf Pallawa.JPG
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,[16] 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[17] 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 decedent from Kadamba-Pallava script are Pyu script,[18] Mon, Kawi, Lanna, Tham, Khom, Khmer, Thai, Lao and Tai Lue.[19]

Inscriptions in Kadamba script

  • Inscription of 4th Century AD of Vengi Vijayanandivarma in Kadamba script[20]
  • Gudnapur Inscription on 20-foot long stone pillar written in Kadamba script[21]
  • Copper plate inscriptions in Kadamba (Pre - Chalukya) script, Kadamba-Pallava script, Telugu-Kannada script are available at Chennai museum[22]

See also

File:Standard indic table8.PNG
Standard indic table


  1. ^ "Types of Writing Systems". Ancient Scripts. Retrieved 2014-03-13. 
  2. ^ "Kalinga". Ancient Scripts. Retrieved 2014-03-13. 
  3. ^ "Scripts fading away with time". Retrieved 2013-08-28. 
  4. ^ "Kadamba script". Retrieved 2013-08-28. 
  5. ^ "Encyclopedic Dictionary of Archaeology edited by Barbara Ann Kipfer - Pg No 692 Writing and Archaeology: A Timeline". Retrieved 2013-08-28. 
  7. ^ "Old Kannada". Retrieved 2013-08-28. 
  8. ^ "South Asian Writing Systems". Ancient Scripts. Retrieved 2014-03-13. 
  9. ^ "Beyond Brahmi, Indus text shaped modern scripts". 2012-08-31. Retrieved 2013-08-28. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Gupta". Ancient Scripts. Retrieved 2014-03-13. 
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Sinhala script". 2012-08-31. Retrieved 2013-08-28. 
  15. ^ "South Asian Writing Systems Comparison". Ancient Scripts. Retrieved 2014-03-13. 
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Pallava script". 2014-02-02. Retrieved 2014-03-13. 
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Pallava - an important ancient script from South India". Retrieved 2013-09-05. 
  20. ^
  21. ^ Rajiv Ajjibal (2011-12-16). "Monuments crying for attention". The Hindu. Retrieved 2014-03-13. 
  22. ^ "Government Museum Chennai". Retrieved 2014-03-13. 

External links

File:Sanskrit Brhama English alphabets.JPG
In Development of Brahmi script (6th column), further the second column script is same as Kadamba script