Marchen script
Supposed seal of the last kings of Zhangzhung
Script type
Time period
7th–10th century CE
DirectionLeft-to-right Edit this on Wikidata
LanguagesZhangzhung language
Related scripts
Parent systems
Sister systems
Meitei, Lepcha, Khema, Phagspa
ISO 15924
ISO 15924Marc (332), ​Marchen
Unicode alias
The theorised Semitic origins of the Brahmi script are not universally agreed upon.

The Marchen script was a Brahmic abugida which was used for writing the extinct Zhangzhung language. It was derived from the Tibetan script.


As per McKay (2003), Zhang-zhung script has been modelled after Thonmi Sambhota's Tibetan script:

"There is also a Zhang-zhung alphabet, but despite its rather unusual appearance to anyone who is unfamiliar with the Indo-Tibetan ornate style of lettering known as lan-tsha, one observes that it is modeled letter by letter upon Thon-mi Sambhota's alphabet of thirty letters."[2]

A number of scripts are recorded as being used for writing the Zhang-Zhung language:[3]

These scripts have mostly been observed in calligraphy manuals. One extant document, a seal originally held at Tsurpu monastery, is written in the Marchen script.[5]


The Marchen scripts has some similarities with the Tibetan scripts and Lantsa but at the same time differs considerably from these. It also differs from other writing systems in the Bon tradition, such as Marchung, Pungchen, Pungchung and Drusha. A feature the Marchen script shares with Tibetan script and Lantsa are the special subjoined variants of the letters wa, ya and ra. The vowel diacritics are most similar to those of Drusha. A distinguishing feature of the Marchen script is the presence of a left-facing swastika, a symbol of the Bon religion, which is used both to write the letter nya and as a punctuation mark.[3]

The Marchen script consists of 30 consonant letters, four vowel diacritics, a vowel length marker -a and two diacritics for nasalization (corresponding to candrabindu and anusvara). Each consonant has an accompanying vowel a which can be modified with the four vowel diacritics. Consonant clusters are written just like in Tibetan script by stacking two or more consonants on top of each other vertically. Just as in Tibetan script, there are simplified forms for medial w, y and r. However, there is no simplified form of initial r. Unlike in Tibetan script, there is no sign to mark syllable boundaries, which means that ambiguities can sometimes arise.[3]

The Marchen script can be written in two different styles: one with thick angular letters and one with thin rounded ones.[3]



Marchen vowels
a ā
𑲏 𑲈
Marchen dependent vowel diacritics
a ā i u e o
𑲯 𑲰 𑲱 𑲲 𑲳 𑲴


Marchen consonants
ka kha ga ṅa
𑱲 𑱳 𑱴 𑱵
ca cha ja ña
𑱶 𑱷‎ 𑱸 𑱹
ta tha da na
𑱺‎ 𑱻‎ 𑱼‎ 𑱽
pa pha ba ma
𑱾‎ 𑱿 𑲀 ‎𑲁
ya ra la wa
𑲉‎ 𑲊‎ 𑲋 𑲅
śa sa ha
𑲌‎ 𑲍‎ 𑲎
tsa tśa dza
𑲂‎ 𑲃‎ 𑲄
zha za
𑲆‎ 𑲇
Marchen subjoined letters
ka kha ga ṅa
𑲒 𑲓 𑲔 𑲕
ca cha ja ña
𑲖 𑲗 𑲘 𑲙
ta tha da na
𑲚 𑲛 𑲜 𑲝
pa pha ba ma
𑲞 𑲟 𑲠 𑲡
ya ra la wa
𑲩 𑲪 𑲫 𑲥
śa sa ha
𑲬 𑲭 𑲮
tsa tśa dza
𑲢 𑲣 𑲤
zha za
𑲦 𑲧


Anusvara 𑲵
Chandrabindu 𑲶
Head mark 𑱰
Shad 𑱱
Om 𑲏𑲴𑲶


Marchen script was added to the Unicode Standard in June, 2016 with the release of version 9.0.

The Unicode block for Marchen is U+11C70–U+11CBF:

Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F
U+11C7x 𑱰 𑱱 𑱲 𑱳 𑱴 𑱵 𑱶 𑱷 𑱸 𑱹 𑱺 𑱻 𑱼 𑱽 𑱾 𑱿
U+11C8x 𑲀 𑲁 𑲂 𑲃 𑲄 𑲅 𑲆 𑲇 𑲈 𑲉 𑲊 𑲋 𑲌 𑲍 𑲎 𑲏
U+11C9x 𑲒 𑲓 𑲔 𑲕 𑲖 𑲗 𑲘 𑲙 𑲚 𑲛 𑲜 𑲝 𑲞 𑲟
U+11CAx 𑲠 𑲡 𑲢 𑲣 𑲤 𑲥 𑲦 𑲧 𑲩 𑲪 𑲫 𑲬 𑲭 𑲮 𑲯
U+11CBx 𑲰 𑲱 𑲲 𑲳 𑲴 𑲵 𑲶
1.^ As of Unicode version 15.1
2.^ Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points


  1. ^ Masica, Colin (1993). The Indo-Aryan languages. p. 143. ISBN 9780521299442.
  2. ^ McKay, Alex (2003). The history of Tibet, Volume 1. Volume 9 of International Institute of Administrative Sciences monographs The History of Tibet. Source: [1] (accessed: Sunday November 1, 2009), p.447
  3. ^ a b c d West, Andrew (30 April 2011). "N4032: Proposal to encode the Marchen script in the SMP of the UCS" (PDF).
  4. ^ West, Andrew (2013-10-22). "N4491: Final proposal to encode the Marchen script in the SMP of the UCS" (PDF).
  5. ^ West, Andrew (1 January 2008). "Zhang Zhung Royal Seal".