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Tigalari alphabet

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Title: Tigalari alphabet  
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Subject: Malayalam script, Malayalam, Sinhala alphabet, Tulu language, Tamil script
Collection: Brahmic Scripts, Grantha Script, Sanskrit, Tulu Language
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Tigalari alphabet

A Sanskrit manuscript
Languages Sanskrit(Major)
Time period
c. 1200-present[1]
Parent systems
Brahmi alphabet
  • Southern Brahmi
Sister systems
Malayalam script
Dhives Akuru
Sinhala script
Priliminary Proposal submitted
(U+113DFU+11380 )

Tigalari (Sanskrit: तिगळारि लिपि, Kannada: ತಿಗಳಾರಿ ಲಿಪಿ ,Tigaḷāri lipi) is a southern Brahmic script used in the Coastal and Malenadu regions of Karnataka, also prevalent in Kasaragod district of Kerala. It evolved from the Grantha script. It bears high similarity and relationship to its sister script Malayalam, which also evolved from the Grantha. It was mainly used by Tulu-speaking Brahmins like Shivalli Brahmins and Kannada speaking Havyaka Brahmins and Kota Brahmins to write Vedic mantras and other Sanskrit religious texts. Sanskrit is the main language of the script. But some Kannada and Tulu works are also available. It is currently not used to write the Kannada and Tulu languages as they use the Kannada script for documentation.


  • Works in the script 1
  • Region where used 2
  • Decline 3
  • Today 4
  • Places where Tigalari manuscripts are preserved 5
  • Malayalam script resemblance 6
  • Characters 7
  • Comparison with other scripts 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11

Works in the script

Thousands of manuscripts have been found in this script such as Vedas, Upanishads, Jyotisha, Dharmashastra, Purana and many more. Majority of works are in Sanskrit. But, some Kannada manuscripts are also found such as Gokarna Mahatmyam etc. The Popular 16th century work-Kaushika Ramayana written in Old Kannada language by Battaleshwara of Yana, Uttara Kannada is found in this script. Mahabharato of 15th century written in this script in Tulu language is also found .But earlier to this several 12th-13th century Sanskrit manuscripts of Madhvacharya are also found.The Honnavar in Uttara Kannada District is known for its Samaveda manuscripts. Other manuscripts like Devi Mahatmyam, from the 15th century and two epic poems written in the 17th century, namely Sri Bhagavata and Kaveri have also been found.

Region where used

The script is used all over Canara and Malenadu regions of Karnataka.Many manuscripts are also found Uttara Kannada, Udupi, Dakshina Kannada, Shimoga and Kasaragod district of Kerala. There are innumerable manuscripts found in this region. The major language of manuscripts is Sanskrit, mainly the works of Veda, Jyotisha and other Sanskrit epics. .


This script is used mainly for religious purposes.Since the States Reorganisation Act, 1956 South Canara was added to Mysore state from Madras State. Also people in South Canara were aware of prevalent Kannada script So it was never used for official or political purposes.In state of Karnataka, Kannada language is only official language and Tulu is not a recognized language, and so was not promoted by any state.German Missionaries started printing press in Mangalore in 1860,used local know Kannada script.This would help them in reaching more audience since Kannada was common tongue .As printing came to Kannada and other scripts of India, native users were made to adopt Kannada as more typefaces and metal fonts were available. This led to drastic decrease in the script usage. Since the formation of Karnataka there are no measures taken script revival of Tigalari.


Today the usage of the script has decreased. It is still used in parts of Kanara region and traditional maṭhas of undivided Dakshina Kannada and Uttara Kannada Districts.

The National Mission for Manuscripts has conducted several workshops on Tigalari script. Dharmasthala and the Ashta Mathas of Udupi have done significant work in preserving the script. Several studies and research work has been done on Tigalari script. Keladi houses over 400 manuscripts in Tigalari script. People are understanding the importance of Tulu and are learning by Social Networking sites and books that are available. There are many efforts to embrace the script back.

Places where Tigalari manuscripts are preserved

Keladi Museum & Historical Research Bureau, Shimoga, Karnataka
The Museum has a library of about a thousand paper and palm leaf manuscripts written in Kannada, Sanskrit and Telugu, besides four hundred palm leaf manuscripts in Tigalari script. They relate to literature, art, dharmaśāstra, history, astrology, astronomy, medicine, mathematics and veterinary science. There are several collections in the Museum, including art objects, arms coins, stone sculptures and copper plate inscriptions belonging to the Vijayanagara and Keladi eras. The Institution is affiliated to Gnana Sahyadri, Shankaraghatta, Kuvempu University of Shimoga.
Oriental Research Institute Mysore
The ORI houses over 33,000 Palm leaf manuscripts. It is a research institute which collects, exhibits, edits and publishes rare manuscripts in both Sanskrit and Kannada. It contains many manuscripts, including Sharadatilaka, in Tigalari script. The Sharadatilaka is a treatise on theory and practice of Tantric worship. While the exact date of the composition is not known, the manuscript itself is thought to be about four hundred years old. The author of the text, Lakshmana Deshikendra, is said to have written the text as an aid to worship for those unable to go through voluminous Tantra texts. The composition contains the gist of major Tantra classics and is in verse form.
Saraswathi Mahal Library, Thanjavur
Built up by the Nayak and Maratha dynasties of Thanjavur, this Library contains very a rare and valuable collection of manuscripts, books, maps and painting on all aspects of arts, culture and literature. The scripts include Grantha, Devanagari, Telugu and Malayalam, Kannada, Tamil, Tigalari and Oriya.
French Institute of Pondicherry
The Institut Français de Pondichéry was established in 1955 with a view to collecting all material relating to Saiva Āgamas, scriptures of the Saiva religious tradition called the Shaiva Siddhanta, which has flourished in South India since the eighth century A.D. The manuscript collection of the Institute[2] was compiled under its Founder–Director, Jean Filliozat. The manuscripts in need of urgent preservation cover a wide variety of topics such as Vedic ritual, Saiva Agama, Sthalapurana and scripts, such as Grantha and Tamil. The collection consists of approximately 8,600 palm-leaf codices, most of which are in the Sanskrit language and written in Grantha script; others are in Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, Nandinagari and Tigalari scripts.
The Shaiva Agama is composed in Sanskrit and written in Tigalari script. Though there may be a few copies of these texts available elsewhere, this particular codex comes from southern Karnataka, providing glimpses into the regional variations and peculiarities in ritual patterns. The manuscript was copied in the 18th century on (sritala) palm leaf folios.

Apart from these they are also found in Dharmasthala, Ramachandrapura Matha of Hosanagar,Shimoga, Sonda Swarnavalli Matha of Sirsi and the Ashta Mathas of Udupi.

Malayalam script resemblance

Tigalari and Malayalam are both descended from Grantha script, and resemble each other both in their individual letters and in using consonant conjuncts less than other Indic scripts. It is assumed that a single script around 9th-10th century called Western Grantha, evolved from Grantha script and later divided into two scripts.[3]


Folio from a Tigalari manuscript written in the Sanskrit language: Vidyamadhaviyam-Jyotisha Shastram

Image: A folio from Tigalari manuscript in the Sanskrit language-Vidyamadhaviyam-Jyotisha Shastram

A chart showing complete list vowels and consonants used in Tigalari script. This is the alphabet of Tigalari script

Comparison with other scripts

This table compares the consonants ka , kha, ga , gha, ṅa with other Southern Indic scripts such as Grantha, Tigalari, Malayalam, Kannada and Sinhala.

See also


  1. ^ Visalakshy, P. The Grantha Script. Dravidian Linguistics Association, 2003.
  2. ^ The digitized Tigalari manuscripts can be viewed at
  3. ^ Andronov, Mikhail Sergeevich. A Grammar of the Malayalam Language in Historical Treatment. Wiesbaden : Harrassowitz, 1996.

External links

  • SEI: Unicode Scripts Research
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