(Meitei: ꯃꯩꯇꯩ ꯃꯌꯦꯛ, romanized: Meitei Mayek)
|6th century AD – upto 1700 AD, 1930 – present|
|Official script||for Meitei language in India|
|Languages||Meitei language (officially known as "Manipuri language")|
|Lepcha, Khema, ʼPhags-pa, Marchen|
|ISO 15924||Mtei (337), Meitei Mayek (Meithei, Meetei)|
[a] The Semitic origin of the Brahmic scripts is not universally agreed upon.
|Part of a series on|
|Officially used writing systems in India|
|Arabic derived scripts|
Official scripts of the Indian Republic
|The Brahmic script and its descendants|
The Meitei script (Meitei: ꯃꯩꯇꯩ ꯃꯌꯦꯛ, romanized: Meitei Mayek, lit. 'Meitei writing system'), also known as the Meetei script (Meitei: ꯃꯤꯇꯩ ꯃꯌꯦꯛ, romanized: Meetei Mayek, lit. 'Meetei writing system'), is an abugida used for the Meitei language, the official language of Manipur state and one of the 22 official languages of India. It is one of the official scripts of the Indian Republic. It is also popularly known as the Kanglei script (Meitei: ꯀꯪꯂꯩ ꯃꯌꯦꯛ/ꯀꯪꯂꯩ ꯏꯌꯦꯛ, romanized: Kanglei Mayek/Kanglei Iyek) and the Kok Sam Lai script (Meitei: ꯀꯣꯛ ꯁꯝ ꯂꯥꯏ ꯃꯌꯦꯛ, romanized: Kok Sam Lai Mayek).[a] Its earliest known evidence of existence dates back to the 6th century AD coins, engraving the Meitei letters, as verified by the various publications of the National Sahitya Akademi. It was used until the 18th century, when it was replaced by the Bengali alphabet. A few manuscripts survive. In the 20th century, the script has experienced a resurgence, and is again being used. Starting from 2021, Meitei script (officially known as Meetei Mayek[b]) was officially used by the Government of Manipur, along with the Bengali-Assamese script, to write the Meitei language, as per "The Manipur Official Language (Amendment) Act, 2021".
Since Meitei does not have voiced consonants, there are only fifteen consonant letters used for native words, plus three letters for pure vowels. Nine additional consonant letters inherited from the Indic languages are available for borrowings. There are seven vowel diacritics and a final consonant (/ŋ/) diacritic. The names of the twenty-seven letters are not only phonetic names, but also based on parts of the human body.
The ancient Meitei script (old Manipuri script) is first evident in the coins issued during the eras of Meitei Kings, Ura Konthouba (568-653 AD) and Ayangba (821-910 AD). These coins are presently preserved in the Mutua Museum in Imphal.
The earliest stone inscription in Meitei script found from the Khoibu village in Manipur is widely believed to of the time of King Ura Konthouba, that is around 6th-7th century CE. But there is no authenticity of the fact as of now. This Meitei inscription is presently kept in the Manipur Government Museum, Imphal.
The earliest copper plate Meitei inscription dates back to the 8th century AD. It was inscribed during the reign of Meitei King Khongtekcha (c. 721 AD). It was discovered by scholar Yumjao from Phayeng village in the east of Imphal in the year 1935. It is one of the preserved earliest known written records for Meitei literature.
Yumjao, the discoverer of the 8th century copper plate inscription, opined that Meitei script was developed during the 8th century, but his fact was contradicted by the evidence of the Meitei script engravings on the coins of the 6th-7th century eras. This contradiction is well noted in the Volume 1 of the Encyclopedia of Indian Literature published by the Sahitya Akademi in the year 1987.
Contradictory to the various publications of the National Sahitya Akademi about the unanimous earliest attested dating of the Meitei script, many people gave personal opinions in their research works as Meitei script was developed in the 11th century, 18th century, 19th century, etc. The Meitei script is a Brahmic abugida. According to Singh (1962), an archaic form of the script had developed by the 11th century, and it was in use until the early 18th century, when it was replaced by the Bengali script. By contrast, Tomba (1993) claims that the script is a development of c. 1930, with all supposedly older documents being deliberate forgeries. According to K.S. Singh and Mahoharan (1993), as per the modifications of the phonemic distributions of Meitei language, the script belongs to the Tibetan group of scripts.
A stone inscription found[year needed] at Khoibu in Tengnoupal district, of current Manipur state, contains royal edicts of king Senbi Kiyamba (d. 1508), representing the earliest portion of the Chietharol Kumbaba or Royal Chronicle of Manipur. It is one of the primary texts in the Meitei script.[better source needed]
In 1980, a modernized version of the writing system was approved by Manipur state law for use in educational institutions.
The modernised version of the Meitei script was encoded in Unicode in the year 2009.
All the newspapers in Meitei language (Manipuri language) will be using the "Meitei script" (Meitei: Meetei Mayek) instead of the Bengali script from 15 January 2023 , according to a joint meeting consensus of the "Meetei Erol Eyek Loinasillol Apunba Lup" (MEELAL), "All Manipur Working Journalists' Union" (AMWJU) and "Editors' Guild Manipur" (EGM) in Imphal.
One of the unique features of this script is the use of body parts in naming the letters. Every letter is named after a human body part in the Meitei language. For example, the first letter "kok" means "head"; the second letter "sam" means "hair"; the third letter "lai" means "forehead", and so on. This is corroborated from the holybook "Wakoklon Heelel Thilel Salai Amailon Pukok Puya", which details how each script originated received its nomenclature.
|Image(s)||Letter(s)||Name(s)/Pronunciation(s)||Romanization||Representation(s)||Meaning(s)[c]||Latin equivalent letters/sounds||IPA|
|ꯀ||ꯀꯣꯛ||kok||head or brain||K||/k/|
|ꯈ||ꯈꯧ||khou||throat, palate, neck||Kh||/kʰ/|
|ꯊ||ꯊꯧ||thou||breast, chest, ribs||Th||/tʰ/|
|ꯌ||ꯌꯥꯡ||yang||backbone, vertebral column, spine||Y||/j/|
|ꯎ||ꯎꯟ||un/oon||skin, hair follicle||U||/u(ː)/|
|ꯏ||ꯏ||ee/i||blood||I or E||/i(ː)/|
|ꯐ||ꯐꯝ||pham/fam||"anus" or "buttocks" or "seat" or "uterus" or "womb"||F or Ph||/pʰ/|
|ꯑ||ꯑꯇꯤꯡꯉꯥ / ꯑꯇꯤꯌꯥ||atinga/atiya||"sky" or "immortality" or "heaven" or "eternity" or "divinity" or "celestial being" or "birth"||A||/ɐ/|
|Evolved Letter(s)||Name(s)/Pronunciation(s)||Romanization||Evolved from||Latin equivalent letters/sounds||IPA|
|Lonsum letter||Name||Derived from Mapung Mayek letter|
|ꯤ||ee-nap||/i/||e or i||King (ꯀꯤꯡ), Feel (ꯐꯤꯜ)|
|ꯨ||uu-nap||/u/||u or oo||Cool (ꯀꯨꯜ), Fumigate (ꯐꯨꯃꯤꯒꯦꯠ)|
|ꯦ||yet-nap||/e/||ay or e||Bay (ꯕꯦ), Kentuk (ꯀꯦꯟꯇꯨꯛ)|
|ꯣ||ot-nap||/o/||o||Boy (ꯕꯣꯌ), Cold (ꯀꯣꯜꯗ)|
|ꯩ||chei-nap||/ej/||ei||Heifer (ꯍꯩꯐꯔ), Feign (ꯐꯩꯟ)|
|ꯧ||sou-nap||/ow/||ou or ow||Soul (ꯁꯧꯜ), Hou (ꯍꯧ), Bowl (ꯕꯧꯜ)|
|ꯪ||nung or noong||/ɐŋ/||ang or ng||Anglo (ꯑꯪꯒꯂꯣ), Kangla (ꯀꯪꯂꯥ)|
In Sanamahism (traditional Meitei religion), the Meitei letters (including Meitei numerals) are believed to be the divine creations (or the divine manifestations) of the supreme deity in the universe.
The Meitei script was added to the Unicode Standard in October, 2009 with the release of version 5.2.
Main articles: Meetei Mayek (Unicode block) and Meetei Mayek Extensions (Unicode block)
The Unicode block for the Meitei script, called Meetei Mayek, is U+ABC0 – U+ABFF.
Characters for historical orthographies are part of the Meetei Mayek Extensions block at U+AAE0 – U+AAFF.
Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
|Meetei Mayek Extensions|
Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
Main article: Meitei input methods
Meitei Mayek keyboards and other input methods are available at or supported by:
The following is a Meitei language sample text of the Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (by the United Nations) in Meitei script, its romanisation, its IPA and its English version:
ꯃꯤꯑꯣꯏꯕ ꯈꯨꯗꯤꯡꯃꯛ ꯄꯣꯛꯄ ꯃꯇꯝꯗ ꯅꯤꯡꯇꯝꯃꯤ, ꯑꯃꯗꯤ ꯏꯖꯖꯠ ꯑꯃꯁꯨꯡ ꯍꯛ ꯃꯥꯟꯅꯅ ꯂꯩꯖꯩ ꯫ ꯃꯈꯣꯏ ꯄꯨꯝꯅꯃꯛ ꯋꯥꯈꯜ ꯂꯧꯁꯤꯡ ꯁꯦꯡꯏ, ꯑꯐ ꯐꯠꯇ ꯈꯪꯏ, ꯑꯗꯨꯅ ꯑꯃꯅ ꯑꯃꯒ ꯂꯣꯏꯅꯕꯗ ꯃꯆꯤꯟ ꯃꯅꯥꯎꯒꯨꯝꯅ ꯂꯣꯏꯅꯒꯗꯕꯅꯤ ꯫— Meitei-language translation in Meitei script
Mioiba khudingmak pokpa matamda ningtammi amadi ijjat amasung hak mānnana leijei, makhoi pumnamak wākhal loushing shengi, apha phatta khangi, aduna amana amaga loinabada machin manāogumna loinagadabani.— The passage in Roman transliteration
míːójbə kʰud̯íŋmək pókpə mət̯ə̀md̯ə níːŋt̯ə̀mmi, əməd̯i iːdʒət əməʃùng hə́k màːnənə lɐ̀jdʒɐ̀j. məkʰój púmnəmək wakʰə̀l lə̀wʃiŋ ʃèŋi, əpʱə̀ pʱə́ːt̯ə kʰə́ŋi, əd̯unə əmənə əməgə lòjnəbəd̯ə mət͡ʃìn mənáwgùmnə lójnəgəd̯əbəni'.— The passage in IPA
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.— The passage in English version
Meithei Mayek is part of the Tibetan group of scripts,which originated from the Gupta Brahmi script
Meetei Mayek (Meitei Mayek, ... Kanglei)
The Meitei Mayek script has a unique built-in learning device: the use of body parts in naming the letters. Every letter is named after a human body part in the Manipuri. The first letter, "kok" means "head," for example; the second letter, "sam" means "hair"; the third letter "lai" means "forehead."