Odia Script
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Odia script
O?i? lipi, O?i? ak?ara
Odia script.png
LanguagesOdia, Sanskrit, Kui, Santali, Ho, Chhattisgarhi
Time period
c. 14th century - present[1]
Parent systems
Child systems
Karani script
Sister systems
Bengali-Assamese script, Tirhuta, N?gar? script, Nepal script[2][4][5]
ISO 15924Orya, 327
Unicode alias
[a] The Semitic origin of the Brahmic scripts is not universally agreed upon.

The Odia script (Odia: ?) is a Brahmic script used to write primarily Odia language and others including Sanskrit, Kui, Santali, Ho and Chhattisgarhi. The script has developed over more than 1000 years from a variant of Siddha? script which was used in Eastern India, where the characteristic top line transformed into a distinct round umbrella shape due to the influence of palm leaf manuscripts and also being influenced by the neighbouring scripts from the Western and Southern regions.

Odia is a syllabic alphabet or an abugida wherein all consonants have an inherent vowel embedded within. Diacritics (which can appear above, below, before, or after the consonant they belong to) are used to change the form of the inherent vowel. When vowels appear at the beginning of a syllable, they are written as independent letters. Also, when certain consonants occur together, special conjunct symbols are used to combine the essential parts of each consonant symbol.

An important feature of the Odia language seen in the script is the retention of inherent vowel in consonants, also known as schwa, at both medial and final positions. This absence of schwa deletion which is also seen in Sanskrit, marks it from the rest of modern Indo-Aryan languages and their equivalent usage in related Brahmic scripts. The absence of the inherent vowel in the consonant is marked by a virama or halanta sign below the consonant.


In Eastern India, a derivative of Siddha? script yielded a group of scripts that eventually Bengali-Assamese scripts, Tirhuta script and the Odia script, with the latter turning the hook into a characteristic umbrella.[2] The earliest known example of Odia language, in the Kalinga script, dates from 1051.[6][7]

Sample of the Odia alphabet from a Buddhist text from around 1060 AD, written by Sarahapada
Temple inscription showing 13th century Siddha? script variant ancestor of modern Odia script at Ananta Vasudeva Temple
15th century copper plate grant of Gajapati emperor Purushottama Deva, showing the distinct formation of the shape of the modern Odia script

The curved appearance of the Odia script is a result of the practice of writing on palm leaves, which have a tendency to tear if you use too many straight lines.[8]

As with all the Brahmic scripts in the region, the Odia script developed through four stages which can be seen from the stone inscriptions, copper-plates and the manuscripts. The periods of development are in the following order,

  1. Proto-Odia: ca 7th- 9th CE
  2. Medieval Odia: ca 10th- 12th CE
  3. Transitional Odia: ca 12th- 14th CE
  4. Modern(current) Odia: ca 14th- 16th CE

The archaic and medieval forms of Odia are more influenced by the calligraphy of the scripts of neighbouring regions, such as,

  1. In Northern Odisha-where the letters are written in Odia, mixed in with proto-Bengali style(that is the right vertical part of the letter is slightly bent inwards).
  2. In southern Odisha-where it is mixed with Telugu-Kannada round, cursive form.
  3. In Western Odisha. Where it is mixed with Nagari and Siddhamatrika(squarish shape in upper-part).

With regards to the epigraphical sources, the antiquities which display the various historical forms of writing in Odia script include rock-edicts, temple inscriptions, stone-slabs, pillar inscriptions, sculptures, copper-plates, coins and palm-leaf manuscripts, illustrated manuscripts, ivory plates and allied materials. Numerous instances of the items depicting all the respective stages of the development of the Odia script during the illustrious dynasties of Eastern Ganga, Somavanshi, Bhanja, Bhauma-kara, Sailodbhava dynasties.

Some of them belonging to different centuries are as follows-

  1. One of the earliest specimens of the Odia script is that of the Urjam inscription dating from the 11th CE (1051 CE). The language used in the inscriptions is a dialect spoken on the border regions of Odisha and Madhya Pradesh. The same applies to a bilingual and biscriptual stone inscription (Odia and Tamil) from the reign of Narasimhadeva (13th CE), found at Bhubaneswar. Odia language in old Odia script is seen on the right side while Tamil in Grantha on the left side.
  2. The Gumsur copper-plate grant of Netribhanjadeva (11th CE) depicts the medieval phase of this script in square and round variety.
  3. The stone inscription of the Pottesvara temple, Ganjam district (137 CE), is a notable example of Odia script influenced by Telugu-Kannada variety.
  4. The Antirigam plate of Yashabhanjadeva (12th CE) depicts Odia calligraphy influenced by northern Nagari. The differences in letters script seems to indicate of the script being in a transitional phase.
  5. Khilor inscription of Anantavarman (12th CE) shows the Gaudi character round shape on the upper part, almost developed like the modern ones.
  6. The early epigraphical records of the Puri inscriptions of Anangabhima III(1211-1238 CE), which is considered to be as one of the earliest Odia inscriptions showing the Gaudi characters, not only shows the stage of the proto, early and medieval phase if the evolution of the Odia script, but also the numericals in early proto-Bengali type while others to be that of the Telugu-Kannada type. The earlier inscription of Chodagangadeva (1114-1115 CE) shows the Late Siddha? variety where the pristhamatra style of vowel diacritics is quite prominent.
  7. In the records of Kenduapatna copper-plates in Sanskrit of the Eastern Ganga King Narasimhadeva II(1278-1305 CE), a transitional variety is seen depicting the development of Odia from Gaudi (showing squarish with round headlines in a ductus that is quite commonly seen on copper-plates and stone inscriptions).
  8. The copper-plate land-grant record of the Gajapati King Purushottamadeva (15th CE), inscribed on a copper axe-head, shows the distinct early version of the modern Odia script which are also seen on the palm-leaves manuscripts belonging to the 15th CE.

With regards to the manuscript sources, the full-fledged script of Odia acquires its classical umbrella hook shape through the development, modification as well as simplification between the 14th and 15th CE, when the palm-leaf manuscript culture becomes dominant in this region. Since the palm-leaves are perishable in nature, no manuscripts are currently available pre-15th CE. Hence, recent works are also important as they show the rare and ancient text as well as artistic illustrations. One of the earliest dated palm-leaf manuscripts is that of Abhinava Gita-Govinda kept in Odisha State Museum. The date of completion of the manuscript is estimated to be that of 1494 CE. Among other manuscripts present at the museum, includes historical works like manuscripts of Jayadeva's Gita-Govinda (16th CE) to the relatively recent works of 18th,19th and 20th century.[9]

Overwhelmingly, the Odia script was used to write the Odia language. However, it has been used as a regional writing-system for Sanskrit. Furthermore, Grierson[10] in his famed Linguistic Survey of India mentioned that the Odia script is sometimes used for Chhattisgarhi, an Eastern Hindi language, in the eastern border regions of Chhattisgarh. However it appears to have been replaced with the Devanagari script.


Development of Odia scripts

Odia is a syllabic alphabet or an abugida wherein all consonants have an inherent vowel embedded within. Diacritics (which can appear above, below, before, or after the consonant they belong to) are used to change the form of the inherent vowel. When vowels appear at the beginning of a syllable, they are written as independent letters. Also, when certain consonants occur together, special conjunct symbols are used to combine the essential parts of each consonant symbol.The list of Vowels,Consonants(both Structured and Unstructured) are as follows:[9][11][12]

Independent vowels

The following are the list of Odia vowels.

Odia vowels
(? ?wara bara)
Hraswa (Short vowel) Dirgha (Long vowel)
Vowel, Phoneme
Diacritic, with (k)
Vowel, Phoneme
Diacritic, with (k)

? a - ? ? ?(aa) ?

? i ? ? ?(i) ?

? u ? ? ?(u) ?
? r?(ru) ? ? r(rru) ?

? l?(lu) ? ? l(llu) ?
Other Vowels

? e ? ? ai ?
? o ? ? au ?

There is no significant difference in the pronunciation of both short and long vowels (?, ? & ?, ?). Also, the vowels ?, ?, ? and their diacritics are only required while writing Sanskrit in Odia script and not used significantly in modern Odia, hence they are not always mentioned in the Odia alphabet.

Karani script sample from Purnachandra Odia Bhashakosha
Other forms of vowel diacritics
Vowel Letter Diacritic forms
For the vowel ?(i), there exists another diacritic form for these consonants- ? (kha), ? (tha), ? (dha).
This diacritic is a remnant from the Karani script (? )[nc 1], also called Chata () which was a cursive variant of Odia script.

(Not to be confused with ,,,,, where this underside hook represents the (t) ligature preceding the consonants ?,?,?,?,?)



  1. ^ Developed by the Kara?a () community, the scribes(professional writer-class) who worked in the royal courts of the Odia princely states(Orissa Tributary States) for documentation and records. The name is derived from Karani (Koroni), a metal stylus that was used for writing on palm leaf and paper


A detailed chart depicting evolution of the Odia script as displayed in a museum at Ratnagiri, Odisha

Two categories of consonant letters (? byan?jana) are defined in Odia: the structured consonants ( ? bargya byan?jana) and the unstructured consonants (? ? abargya byan?jana).

The first standardised Odia alphabet book was compiled by Madhusudan Rao named Barnabodha in 1895. As seen from the alphabet list, the letters for both the phonetic sounds of Ba,Va and Wa were represented by the same letter ?, with the sound Va & Wa being represented by the name abargya ba (? ?). This is seen in the oldest digitised version of Barnabodha in 1896. While Ba and Va sounds merged in the Eastern Indo-Aryan languages and in Odia was represented by ?, while an alternate letter for Wa was represented by ?, but this has not gained full acceptance and instead Praharaj's letter has remained the widely used and recognised letter.[13]

Gopala Chandra Praharaj, who compiled and published the first comprehensive Odia dictionary, Purnachandra Odia Bhashakosha(1931-40), brought in reform by introducing a new letter ? to the script inventory (which he mentions exclusively in the dictionary) to represent the phonetic sound- Wa in order to distinguish itself from the same symbol which it earlier shared with Ba(?).[14][15][16]

Structured consonants

The structured consonants( ?) are classified according to where the tongue touches the palate of the mouth and are classified accordingly into five structured groups. These consonants are shown here with their ISO transliteration.

Odia structured consonants
( ? bargya byan?jana bara)
Phonetics -> Plosive spar?a Nasal anun?sika
Voicing -> Voiceless ? agho?a Voiced gho?a
Aspiration -> Unaspirated a?papra Aspirated mah?pra Unaspirated a?papra Aspirated mah?pra Unaspirated a?papra

? ka ? kha ? ga ? gha ? ?a

? ca ? cha ? ja ? jha ? ña
? ?a ? ?ha ? ?a ? ?ha ? ?a

? ta ? tha ? da ? dha ? na

? pa ? pha ? ba ? bha ? ma

Unstructured consonants

The unstructured consonants (? ?) are consonants that do not fall into any of the above structures:

Odia unstructured consonants
(? ? abargya byan?jana bara)
Characteristics Consonants Phonetics
Voiced unaspirated Palatal
used as Voiced postalveolar affricate
Approximant ( anta?stha)
? ?a(ja) anta?stha ja
Voiced unaspirated Palatal
Approximant ( anta?stha)
? ya ya
Voiced unaspirated Retroflex
Approximant ( anta?stha)
? ra ra
Voiced retroflex lateral approximant ? ?a ?a
Voiced unaspirated Dental
Approximant ( anta?stha)
? la la
Voiced unaspirated Labial
Approximant ( anta?stha)
? wa wa (also ? ? abargya ba)[nc 1]
Voiced unaspirated Palatal Sibilant
Fricative (? ma)
? ?a(sa) talabya sa
Voiced unaspirated Retroflex Sibilant
Fricative (? ma)
? ?a(sa) ? murddhanya sa
Voiced unaspirated Dental Sibilant
Fricative (? ma)
? sa dantya sa
Voiced aspirated Guttural
Fricative (? ma)
? ha ha
Voiced retroflex flap ?a ?a
Voiced retroflex flap ?ha ?ha
Conjunct of ? & ? k?a khya

Although the sibilants ?, ?, ? have their independent orthography, in modern spoken Odia all three of them are pronounced the same as ?.

? - This letter is used sporadically for the phonetic Va/Wa as an alternative for the officially recognised letter ?, but has not gained widespread acceptance.


  1. ^ Script reform introduced by G.C. Praharaj, while working on the first comprehensive Odia dictionary, Purnachandra Odia Bhasakosha(1931-40)

Vowel diacritics and other symbols

The following table shows the list of vowel diacritics on consonants.

Vowel diacritics on Consonants
k ?
kh ?
g ?
gh ?
? ?
c ?
ch ?
j ?
jh ?
ñ ?
? ?
?h ?
? ?
?h ?
? ?
t ?
th ?
d ?
dh ?
n ?
p ?
ph ?
b ?
bh ?
m ?
y(j) ?
?(y) ?
r ?
? ?
l ?
w ?
? ?
? ?
s ?
h ?

Signs and punctuation

List of diacritic signs and punctuation marks present in languages with Brahmi-derived scripts.[17][18]

Signs and punctuation
Symbol Name Function Romanization
Nasal Diacritic. E.g.- -a?, -ka?, -ha?sa
Also occurs as Final velar nasal [?]. E.g.- -eba?(eb)
?, //
?, /?/
Represents post-vocalic voiceless glottal fricative [h]. Doubles the next consonant sound without the vowel,"h" sound at end. E.g.- -a?, -ka?, ?-du?kha ?, /h/

Nasal Diacritic. E.g.- -am?, -kam?, ?-ni?m? m?, //

Diacritic. Suppresses the inherent vowel [a] (a). E.g.- k, -ha?hat -
Nukta Diacritic. Dot used below the letter to extend to new alphabets -
Full stop -
Double Purnnacheda End of Full Stanza -

Special punctuation mark. Used similarly as Apostrophe for the elision of a vowel in sandhi. Also used for prolonging vowel sounds -
? ?
Om Sign -

Sign. Represents the name of a deity or also written before the name of a deceased person -

Consonant ligatures

Clusters of two or more consonants form a ligature. Basically Odia has two types of such consonant ligatures. The "northern" type is formed by fusion of two or more consonants as in northern scripts like Devan?gar? (but to a lesser extent also in the Malayalam script in the south). In some instances the components can be easily identified, but sometimes completely new glyphs are formed. With the "southern" type the second component is reduced in size and put under the first as in the southern scripts used for Kanna?a and Telugu (and to some extent also for Malayalam script).

List of diacritic signs and punctuation marks present in languages with Brahmi-derived scripts.[19]

Consonant Ligatures
Symbol Name Function Romanization
ya pha?a
Ligature [y] pronounced following a consonant phoneme. E.g.- -kya, ?-sabhya -ya
ra pha?a
Ligature [r] pronounced following a consonant phoneme. E.g.- -kra, -grama -ra

Ligature [r] pronounced preceding a consonant phoneme. E.g.- -rka, ?-garba r-
?a pha?a
Ligature [?] pronounced following a consonant phoneme. E.g- -k?a, -?uk?a -?a
la pha?a
Ligature [l] pronounced following a consonant phoneme. E.g.- -kla, -pallaba -la
? /?
ba pha?a/wa pha?a
Two types-1.Most common ligature [w] pronounced following a consonant phoneme. E.g.- -kwa, -dwara
2.In case of ?(ma) consonant, the ligature takes the form of [b] E.g.- -mba, ?=?mba
-ba, -wa
ma pha?a
Ligature [m] pronounced following a consonant phoneme. E.g.- -kma, ?-padma -ma
na pha?a
Ligature [n] pronounced following a consonant phoneme. E.g.- -kna, -pra?na -na

The following table lists all conjunct forms. (Different fonts may use different ligatures.)[20]

Conjunct Consonants ? (juktakhyara)
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?


The subjoined form of (ch) is also used for subjoined (th): Oriya Dia4.gif

The sign for the nasal (?) looks similar to one used for (ph) ligature: Oriya Dia7.gif


Development of ancient numerals in Odia
Hindu-Arabic numerals 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Odia numerals ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
Names nya eka dui tini c?ri p?ñca cha'a s?ta ha na'a
? ?
Fraction symbols ?
Fraction symbols ? ? ? ? ? ?
Fractions ¹/ 1/8 ³/ ¼ ½ ¾

Fraction symbols are obsolete post decimalisation on 1 April 1957.

Comparison of Odia script with ancestral and related scripts

Odia letters are mostly round shaped whereas Devanagari and Bengali have horizontal lines. So in most cases the reader of Odia will find the related distinctive parts of the letter only below the curved hoop.


a ? i ? u ? ? ? ? ? e ai o au
Odia ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
Bengali ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
Siddham Siddham a.svg Siddham aa.svg Siddham i.svg Siddham ii.svg Siddham u.svg Siddham uu.svg Siddham ri.svg Siddham rii.svg Siddham li.svg Siddham lii.svg Siddham e.svg Siddham ai.svg Siddham o.svg Siddham au.svg
Devanagari ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?


k kh g gh ? c ch j jh ñ ? ?h ? ?h ? t th d dh n p ph b bh m y,? r l,? w ? ? s h
Odia ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?,? ? ?,? ? ? ? ? ?
Bengali ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?, ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
Siddham Siddham k.svg Siddham kh.svg Siddham g.svg Siddham gh.svg Siddham ng.svg Siddham c.svg Siddham ch.svg Siddham j.svg Siddham jh.svg Siddham ny2.svg Siddham tt.svg Siddham tth.svg Siddham dd.svg Siddham ddh.svg Siddham nn.svg Siddham t.svg Siddham th.svg Siddham d.svg Siddham dh2.svg Siddham n.svg Siddham p.svg Siddham ph.svg Siddham b.svg Siddham bh.svg Siddham m.svg Siddham y.svg Siddham r.svg Siddham l.svg Siddham v3.svg Siddham sh1.svg Siddham ss.svg Siddham s.svg Siddham h.svg
Devanagari ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?,? ? ? ? ? ?

Vowel diacritics

ka k? ki k? ku k? k? k? k? k? ke kai ko kau
Odia ?
Bengali ?
Devanagari ?

The vowel diacritics observed in Odia is similar to that of Bengali-Assamese as inherited from the Siddham pristhmatra style, differing from the diacritic symbols inherited by the scripts related to Devanagari line.

Sample text

The following is a sample text in Odia of Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights( ? ):

Odia in the Odia script

?: ? ? ? ? ? ?

Odia in IAST

Anuccheda eka: Samasta ma?i?a janmak?l?aru sw?dh?na eba? mar?y?d? ?u adhik?rare sam?na. Sem?na?ka?h?re buuddhi ?u bibeka nihita achi eba? sem?na?ku paraspara prati bhr?tr?twa manobh?bare byabah?ra karib? ucit.

Odia in the IPA

?nutt?ed ek? | s?mt mis? dn?m?k?:u su:din eb mdj?:d:u ?dik?:e s?m?:n?. sem?:nk?:?e bud?di ?:u bibek? n?i?it ?t?i eb sem?:nku psp pt?i b:tut?u m?n?ob:be bj?b: kib?: utit?.


Article 1: All human beings from birth are free and dignity and rights are equal. Their reason and intelligence endowed with and they towards one another in a brotherhood spirit behaviour to do should.


Article 1: 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.


Odia script was added to the Unicode Standard in October 1991 with the release of version 1.0.

The Unicode block for Odia is U+0B00-U+0B7F:

Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F
U+0B3x ି
1.^ As of Unicode version 13.0
2.^ Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points


See also


  1. ^ Salomon, Richard (1998). Indian Epigraphy. p. 41.
  2. ^ a b c Handbook of Literacy in Akshara Orthography, R. Malatesha Joshi, Catherine McBride(2019),p.27
  3. ^ Rath, Saraju (2012). "The Oriya Script: Origin, Development and Sources". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ a b Salomon, Richard (1998). Indian Epigraphy. p. 101.
  5. ^ Masica, Colin (1993). The Indo-Aryan languages. p. 143.
  6. ^ Linguistic Society of India (2014). Indian Linguistics (in Estonian). Linguistic Society of India. p. 96. Retrieved 2020.
  7. ^ Triph?, K. (1962). The Evolution of Oriya Language and Script. Utkal University. Retrieved 2020.
  8. ^ "Odia alphabet, pronunciation and language". Omniglot.com. Retrieved 2012.
  9. ^ a b Rath, Saraju (2012). "The Oriya Script: Origin, Development and Sources". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  10. ^ http://dsal.uchicago.edu/books/lsi/lsi.php?volume=6&pages=286#page/33/mode/1up
  11. ^ https://archive.org/details/Purnachandra.Odia.Bhashakosha.Complete
  12. ^ https://archive.org/details/ChabilaMadhuBarnobodha/page/n1/mode/2up
  13. ^ https://archive.org/details/barnabodha/page/n3/mode/2up
  14. ^ https://archive.org/stream/Purnachandra.Odia.Bhashakosha.Complete/Purnachandra.Odia.Bhashakosha-Volume.6-Consonants-Ja.to.Sha#page/n725/mode/2up
  15. ^ https://dsal.uchicago.edu/dictionaries/praharaj/
  16. ^ https://odiabibhaba.in/en/showcase/bhasakosha-e-2/
  17. ^ https://archive.org/details/ChabilaMadhuBarnobodha/page/n17/mode/2up
  18. ^ https://www.unicode.org/charts/PDF/U0B00.pdf
  19. ^ https://archive.org/details/ChabilaMadhuBarnobodha/page/n19/mode/2up
  20. ^ https://archive.org/details/ChabilaMadhuBarnobodha/page/n21/mode/2up

External links

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