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Pallava script
'Pallava' in Pallava script
Script type
Time period
4th century CE to 8th century CE[1]
DirectionLeft-to-right Edit this on Wikidata
LanguagesTamil, Old Khmer, Old Malay, Burmese, Thai, Sri Lankan Sinhala, Lao, Mon, Balinese, etc.
Related scripts
Parent systems
Child systems
Tamil, Grantha, Mon-Burmese, Khmer, Cham, Kawi
Sister systems
 This article contains phonetic transcriptions in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA. For the distinction between [ ], / / and ⟨ ⟩, see IPA § Brackets and transcription delimiters.

The Pallava script or Pallava Grantha is a Brahmic script named after the Pallava dynasty of Southern India (Tamilakam) and is attested to since the 4th century CE. In India, the Pallava script evolved from Tamil-Brahmi.[2] The Grantha script originated from the Pallava script.[3] Pallava also spread to Southeast Asia and evolved into scripts such as Balinese,[4] Baybayin,[5] Javanese,[6] Kawi,[7] Khmer,[8] Lanna,[9] Lao,[10] Mon–Burmese,[11] New Tai Lue,[12] Sundanese,[13] and Thai.[14]

Epigrapher Arlo Griffiths argues that the name of the script is misleading as not all of the relevant scripts referred to have a connection with the Pallava dynasty. He instead advocates that these scripts be called Late Southern Brāhmī scripts.[1]


During the rule of Pallavas, the script accompanied priests, monks, scholars, and traders into Southeast Asia. Pallavas developed the Pallava script based on the Tamil-Brahmi. The 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, and Vengi at the time of Ikshvakus. Brahmi's design was slightly different from the scripts of Cholas, Pandyas, and Cheras. Pallava script was the first significant development of Brahmi in India, combining rounded and rectangular strokes and adding typographical effects, and 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.[16]

The script is not yet a part of Unicode but proposals have been made to include it. In 2018, Anshuman Pandey made a proposal.[17]


The form shown here is based on examples from the 7th century CE. Letters labeled * have uncertain sound value, as they have little occurrence in Southeast Asia.


Each consonant has an inherent /a/, which will be sounded if no vowel sign is attached. If two consonants follow one another without intervening vowel, the second consonant is made into a subscript form, and attached below the first.

ka kha ga gha nga
ca cha ja jha* nya
ṭa ṭha* ḍa ḍha* ṇa
ta tha da dha na
pa pha ba bha ma
ya ra la va
śa ṣa sa ha

Independent Vowels

a ā i ī u e o ai* au*



A proposal to encode the script in Unicode was submitted in 2018.[18]


  1. ^ a b Griffiths, Arlo (2014). "53-57". LOST KINGDOMS: Hindu-Buddhist Sculpture of Early Southeast Asia. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. ISBN 9781588395245.
  2. ^ Salomon, Richard (1998). Indian Epigraphy. p. 40.
  3. ^ "Grantha alphabet". Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  4. ^ "Balinese alphabet". Retrieved 13 July 2019.
  5. ^ "Tagalog". Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  6. ^ "Javanese alphabet". Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  7. ^ "Kawi alphabet". Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  8. ^ "Khmer". Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  9. ^ "Lanna alphabet". Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  10. ^ "Lao". Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  11. ^ "Mon". Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  12. ^ "New Tai Lue script". Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  13. ^ "Sundanese". Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  14. ^ "Thai". Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  15. ^ [bare URL image file]
  16. ^ a b "Pallava script". 2014-02-02. Retrieved 2014-03-13.
  17. ^ Pandey, Anshuman. (2018). Preliminary proposal to encode Pallava in Unicode.
  18. ^ Pandey, Anshuman. (2018). Preliminary proposal to encode Pallava in Unicode.