Kadamba script

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LanguagesKannada, Telugu, Sanskrit
Time period
5th century-10th century
Parent systems
  • Gupta
    • Kadamba alphabet
      • Kadamba

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

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 the 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 the rule of Kadamba dynasty (325-550), major change in the Brahmi script resulted in the Kadamba Kannada script, letters were shorter and round in shape. During (325 to 1000 AD) the rule of the Western Ganga dynasty in the 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, the Telugu-Kannada alphabet stabilized during the rule of the Chalukyas of Badami from 500-1000[5]> and Rastrakutas.[6]

The Old Kannada ("Halekannada") alphabet is the continuation of the Telugu-Kannada alphabet used to write Kannada and Telugu.[7] Brahmi -> Kadamba -> Old Kannada -> Kannada and Telugu scripts[8]

Similar scripts[edit]

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.
Kadamba Kannada script, 5th century CE.

Kadamba-Pallava script[edit]

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 Tamil-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 was 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 either direct or indirect derivations from the Kadamba-Pallava script are Pyu script,[17] Burmese, Mon, Kawi, Lanna, Tham, Khom, Khmer, Thai, Lao, Sinhala and Tai Lue.[18][19]

Inscriptions in Kadamba script[edit]

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

See also[edit]

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. ^ Kipfer, Barbara Ann (2000). Encyclopedic Dictionary of Archaeology. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 692. ISBN 978-0-306-46158-3.
  7. ^ "Old Kannada". Retrieved 2013-08-28.
  8. ^ "South Asian Writing Systems". Ancient Scripts. Retrieved 2014-03-13.
  9. ^ Brahmi-Pallava script, skyknowledge.com.
  10. ^ "Gupta". Ancient Scripts. Retrieved 2014-03-13.
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-10-17. Retrieved 2013-10-17.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ Sample of Old Khmer script, learnkhmer.net.
  13. ^ "Sinhala script". 2012-08-31. Retrieved 2013-08-28.
  14. ^ "South Asian Writing Systems Comparison". Ancient Scripts. Retrieved 2014-03-13.
  15. ^ Western Chalukya script, skyknowledge.com.
  16. ^ "Pallava script". Skyknowledge.com. 2014-02-02. Retrieved 2014-03-13.
  17. ^ Pallava, a Pyu-equivalent script, lionslayer.yoeyar.com.
  18. ^ "Pallava - an important ancient script from South India". Retrieved 2013-09-05.
  19. ^ Jayarajan, Paul M. (1976-01-01). History of the Evolution of the Sinhala Alphabet. Colombo Apothecaries' Company, Limited.
  20. ^ Rajiv Ajjibal (2011-12-16). "Monuments crying for attention". The Hindu. Retrieved 2014-03-13.
  21. ^ "Government Museum Chennai". Chennaimuseum.org. Retrieved 2014-03-13.

External links[edit]

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