Ancient delight: Heritage enthusiasts develop fonts for fading 'Takri' script

Published on Mar 09, 2015 08:53 AM IST
The heritage of the hills- an abugida writing system of the Brahmic family- that evolved around the time when currency replaced the barter system, flourished like any other language and then fell into disuse.
Hindustan Times | By, Dharamsala

The heritage of the hills- an abugida writing system of the Brahmic family- that evolved around the time when currency replaced the barter system, flourished like any other language and then fell into disuse.

Almost on verge of extinction, 'Takri' (also pronounced Tankri), has a ray of hope as a team of heritage enthusiasts from two generations has developed fonts for the ancient expert.

The idea was envisaged by those who come from younger generation, who teamed to work for preservation of heritage and floated a forum “Sambh” (literary meaning: to take care of) at Dharamsala.

After an extensive research spanning two years, the team has come out with the standardised fonts for the script.

“It was not easy and needed extensive research as there is almost negligible literature written in Takri available. We had to study inscriptions, old account books, letters preserved in museums and revenue records,” said Arvind Sharma, a member of Sambh.
“Secondly, there were a lot of variations in the alphabets in different part where the script was in use in ancient times and it was rather a tough task to standardize the script,” he added.

For the purpose, the young team took help of Takri expert Hari Krishan Murari- a renowned Pahari writer and among around dozen people who could read and write in ancient style. Vikas Ranaa, a member of Sambh team and a web developer, then worked on designing the fonts for the script, which is now in its final stage of testing.

“My love for heritage inspired me to work for revival of this script and within few days link for the fonts will be made available to the general public so that the future generation can learn it in an easy way,” said Rana.

Used widely till 19th century, Takri was used to write Dogri language in Jammu and Kashmir, Nepali, Kashtwari dialect in Kishtwar region and many pahari dialects like, Kullvi, Garhwali, Gaddi and Chambyali.

The alphabets in Takri resemble Gurmukhi Script, which is used for writing Punjabi language.

“This is probably because the region where this script evolved is part of Punjab,” said Takri expert Murari. “However, the script could not be popularised due to lack of literature and fell into disuse due to newer generation shifted to Devnagari script,” he added.

Takri, Murari said, was mostly used to write account books and revenue records.

Meanwhile, the Sambh team is now intended to develop separate fonts for two Takri used in Kangra and that in Kullu. “We are intended to popularise the script by organising workshops, seminars and online promotion,” said Arvind.

Quick facts:

Evolved around 13th century or before
Remained in use till 19th century
Contain 12 vowels and 37 consonants
Resembles Gurmukh? Script
Was used to write Dogri, Kashtwari, Nepali, Gaddi, Chambyali and Garhwali
It was most prevalent script for business and revenue records


    Naresh K Thakur is a staff reporter in Hindustan Times’ Himachal bureau. Based at Dharamshala, he covers Tibetan affairs, local politics and environmental issues.

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