Old Tamil Script

Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and in the Indian union territory of Puducherry. Tamil-Brahmi was an early variant of the Brahmi script used to write Tamil characters. It is also known as the Tamili script. It is distinguished from standard Asokan Brahmi, by an inherent vowel marker for pure consonants and consonants.

After Tamil Brahmi fell out of use, Tamil was written using a script called the vaṭṭeḻuttu amongst others such as Grantha and Pallava script. The current Tamil script consists of 12 vowels, 18 consonants and one special character, the āytam. The vowels and consonants combine to form 216 compound characters, giving a total of 247 characters. All consonants have an inherent vowel a, as with other Indic scripts. This inherency is removed by adding an overdot called a puḷḷi, to the consonantal sign. For example, ன is ṉa (with the inherent a) and ன் is ṉ (without a vowel). Many Indic scripts have a similar sign, generically called virama, but the Tamil script is somewhat different in that it nearly always uses a visible puḷḷi to indicate a dead consonant (a consonant without a vowel). In other Indic scripts, it is generally preferred to use a ligature or a half form to write a syllable or a cluster containing a dead consonant, although writing it with a visible virama is also possible. The Tamil script does not differentiate voiced and unvoiced plosives. Instead, plosives are articulated with voice depending on their position in a word, in accordance with the rules of Tamil phonology.

old tamil script near tanjavur

A stone-inscription with Indo-arabic numerals 355. Very strange, for at first the number looked like 1355, roughly a 100 years after the Darasuram temple was built. But later, Kingsley tells me the number is 355...what looks like 1 is in fact a part of the previous letter. Kingsley also tells me that in Tamil temples, numbers would be written out in words and not using numerals. Altogether a strange piece of writing.

ancient tamil script in the pillars of kailasanathar temple at kanchipuram

beautiful and well-preserved ancient Tamil script at the 8th century Kailasanatha Temple in Kanchipuram. Interestingly, the older script shares much more similarity to Hindi than the modern scripts have evolved.

old tamil inscriptions in tanjore big temple

This script was found on the temple walls of the Tanjore Bragadeeshwara temple. This is very different from the present Tamil script.

tamil script carvings in pillar temples

tamil kalvettu in the thenkasi temple at tamil nadu

கல்வெட்டு (Kalvettu - Kal = stone + vettu = Cut/carve/etch) at Kasi Viswanathar temple, at Tenkasi, Tamilnadu. A kalvettu recorded details such as the king of the province, his regnal year, his predecessors, the wars he fought in, the enemies he conquered. It lists the grants that king has made towards building that temple, who built it, and what kind of charities and donations will keep it afloat. This makes these kalvettu-s a great record of history.

1000 year old tamil writings in the walls of Brihadeshwara Temple

ancient tamil inscriptions in temple walls

ancient tamil writings in temple walls

Stone inscriptions in Tanjavur Temple. Dates back to 1010 AD.

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