5 reasons why Assamese script deserves to be in the Unicode Consortium
Literary bodies like Asom Sahitya Sabha have alleged negligence of Assamese script for not giving a separate slot by the US-based Unicode Consortium while researchers blames the lack of knowledge of the US agency about Assamese as an independent script. But Assam government, in its recent proposal to Bureau of Indian Standards cited many reasons in support of the demand.
The controversy arose after the Unicode Consortium, which gives a universal character set to languages for use in computers, identifies Assamese as another form of Bengali script, making Assamese language's use difficult in the digital world.
TNT-The Northeast Today takes the readers through five such reasons cited by an expert committee constituted by the state government.
Nagajari-Khanikar Village Rock Inscription, Golaghat: 4th – 5th Century
The 4th/5th century inscription of Nagajari-Khanikar is considered as the oldest known proof of Assamese script. This script seems to have the exact similarity in case of many alphabets like cha, ma, maa, raa,haa (ঘ,ভ,ভা,ৰা,হা) with the Allahabad rock pillar inscriptions of Samudragupta. Samudragupta was crowned in 320 AD, and died in 380 AD.
Umachal Rock Inscription
The influence of Brahmi and Gupta scripts was found in the 7th century copper plates of Kamrupa King Bhaskaravarman. Dubi Copper plate inscriptions of Kamrupa during Bhaskaravarman's rule indicates the use of ষ dna স.
Dubi Copper Plate Inscriptions
Changes were found in the pattern of the alphabets of copper plate scripts starting from 9th Century. Since mid 9th to 10th century onwards, alphabets of copper plates started to take almost modern forms. During this time, matras like াা, িা started to take their full forms.
Alphabets found in Banamalavarman's (King of Kamrupa) Parbatiya Copper plate distinctly shows formation of consonant and conjuncts. The vowels, consonants and conjuncts found in these inscriptions are of the almost modern Assamese pattern. From such examples it could be inferred that the almost modern Assamese patterns started from the 9th /10th Century.
Uttarbarbil Copper Plate Inscription
Assamese script started to take its modern formation in early part of 13th Century in the Uttarbil copper plate inscriptions.
Kanai-Barashi Bowa Rock Inscription: Early part of 13th Century
Kanai-Barashibowa Turaska Khyay rock inscription is the latest example of modern Assamese inscriptions. Modern Assamese script has almost exact similarity to the alphabets of this plate.
Assamese script was found to be fully developed in rich Assamese literature from the later part of 12th century. During 13th century to 17th -18th century, the vast Assamese literature was written mostly in manuscripts. Besides, Sanchi-Pat, Tula-Pat, handmade paper were also used in writing these literature. Many proof of Assamese script is also available in the Gachtal pillar script, Sadia Chepakhoowa script, Rock plates of Kamakhya Temple, Ugratara Temple and many others. An important example of weaving letters in textiles is the Brindavani Bastra, a decorative piece of cloth illustrating the Krishna Lila, woven under the directions of Srimanta Sankardeva and Sr Sri Madhavdeva.