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Kamarupi script

Kamarupi script[2] (Kamrupi script, ancient Assamese script)[3] was the script used in ancient Kamarupa from early times to 13th century, from which the modern Assamese script and Bengali script evolved.[4] In the development of the Assamese script, this phase was followed by the medieval and then by the modern Assamese scripts.[5]

Kamarupi script
Kamrupi script
Kanai Baraxiboa rock inscription.png
LanguagesSanskrit & Kamrupi Apabhramsa[1]
Time period
5th-13th century
Parent systems



The Kamarupi script originated from Gupta script,[6] which in turn developed from Brahmi script. It developed on its own in Kamarupa, till the Nidhanpur copper-plate issued by Bhaskarvarman from his military camp at Karnasubarna, which took on Kutila characteristics.[7] Sometimes, Kamarupi script origins are traced to Kutila script, which is not widely accepted.[8]

The Kamarupa inscriptions were engraved during this development period, and they display the development of this script in this period. The scripts of the 5th-century Umachal and Nagajari-Khanikargaon rock inscriptions are nearly identical to the eastern variety of the Gupta script,[9] which over the centuries evolved into the proto-Assamese script of the 12th-century Kanai-Boroxiboa inscriptions.[10]

S. N. Sarma has observed that the Assamese script pertaining to the period from the 6th century to the twelfth century can be termed as the ancient Kamrupi script. The Kamrupi script took the form of the old Assamese script in the latter period.[3]


In late medieval period, four variations surfaced namely: (1) "Gargaya" used around Gargaon, (2) "Bamonia" used in preparation of Sanskrit texts, used by Brahmins, (3) "Kaitheli" used by the Kayasthas and (4) "Lakhri" used by common people in Kamrup.[11] Later two varieties are exclusive to Western Assam.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Māmaṇi Raẏachama Goswāmī (1996), Rāmāyaṇa from Gangā to Brahmaputra, p.98 The Gachtal pillar inscription composed in old Assamese script and language, rather Kamrupi dialect, referring to the yavana invasion from Bengal, with the date saka 1284
  2. ^ "The Assamese script of the period from the fifth to the thirteenth century may be termed as the ancient Assamese script or the Kamarupi script" (Goswami 1983, p. 23)
  3. ^ a b Assam district gazetteers - Volume 6 (1976), Page 478 "S. N. Sarma has observed that the Assamese script pertaining to the period from the 6th century to the twelfth century can be termed as the ancient Kamrupi script."
  4. ^ (Goswami 1983, p. 27)
  5. ^ "The Kamarupi script developed into the medieval Assamese script and the latter into the modern Assamese script" (Goswami 1983, p. 27)
  6. ^ "The a, i, ka, ga, na, ta, da, na, ma, ra and va of the Umachal and Barganga inscriptions are fairly similar to those of the Allahabad inscription (of Samudragupta)" (Lahiri 1991, p. 59)
  7. ^ "...Nidhanpur grant belongs to a later date having many elements from the so called western style of writing. This grant can be said to have been written in Kutila alphabets." (Verma 1976, p. 40)
  8. ^ Joshi, Jagat Pati; Margabandhu, Chedarambattu; Sharma, Arun Kumar; Bisht, Ranvir Singh (2002). Puraratna: emerging trends in archaeology, art, anthropology, conservation, and history : in honour of Shri Jagat Pati Joshi, Volume 2. Agam Kala Prakashan. p. 430.
  9. ^ (Lahiri 1991, pp. 58–59)
  10. ^ (Lahiri 1991, pp. 57–58)
  11. ^ Les Langues Ecrites Du Monde: Releve Du Degre Et Des Modes D'Utilisation (1978), p.39


  • Bora, Mahendra (1981). The Evolution of Assamese Script. Jorhat, Assam: Assam Sahitya Sabha.
  • Goswami, Upendranath (1983). "The Assamese Script". Journal of the Assam Research Society. Kamarupa Anusandhan Samiti. 27.
  • Lahiri, Nayanjot (1991). Pre-Ahom Assam: Studies in the Inscriptions of Assam between the Fifth and the Thirteenth Centuries AD. Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt Ltd.
  • Verma, Thakur Prasad (1976). Development of Script in Ancient Kamrupa. Asam Sahitya Sabha.