The Pallawa Script and Its Influence on Script Development in Indonesia

The inscription Kutai Kingdom written in the Early Pallawa script in Sanskrit which is stored in the National Museum. (Photo Source: Intisari.grid) - Based on written sources found, the Pallawa script has greatly influenced the development of script in Indonesia.

Pallava script --written Pallawa or Pallava --- a script originating from southern India with its language called Sanskrit.

This script emerged from the Brahmi script, namely the ancient Indian script that developed in the middle of the first millennium BC.

The term Pallawa script was originally used by Nicolaas Johannes Krom, an orientalist, epigrapher, archaeologist, researcher of early history and traditional Indonesian culture from the Netherlands.

One of his writings that has long been a reference for the ancient history of Indonesia is Hindoe-Javaansche Geschiedenis (1926).

The name of this script itself comes from the Pallava dynasty that once ruled in southern India or around Madras between the 4th and 9th centuries AD.

The Pallawa script spread to Southeast Asia and was used, among other things, to write Old Malay.

In literacy research, the Pallawa script was identified in Funan, Campa, Cambodia, Sundanese, Java, East Kalimantan and Sumatra.

In Indonesia, through the Pallawa script, it has contributed a lot to historical knowledge and the existence of kingdoms in the archipelago.

The Pallawa script was first discovered in Indonesia on the Mulawarman inscription in Kutai, East Kalimantan, and Purnawarman in West Java in the 5th century AD in Sanskrit.

In addition, the Sriwijaya Inscription in the 7th century AD also used the Pallawa script but spoke Old Malay.

In its development, the script underwent a process of adaptation to local cultural elements, experiencing development and changes in form.

The Pallawa script has gradually changed its form to reduce the Kawi or Old Javanese script which is relatively similar to its parent script, the Pallawa script.

The findings of ancient manuscripts in Sumatra, such as in North Sumatra (Batak), Kerinci, Bengkulu and Lampung, are generally written on bark and bamboo.

Meanwhile, in Sulawesi, such as the Bugis and Makassar as well as in the Philippines, it is written on palm leaves which are easily weathered and have a limited durability.

Because the material for writing the script came from materials that were fragile at the time, this created difficulties in tracing the origin of the script.

However, it is strongly suspected that all Indonesian characters outside Java and Bali originate from the same source.

The source of the script is considered to be in the area of Southern Sumatra (Sumbagsel) during the heyday of the Sriwijaya Kingdom.

Not only that, as a written language the Pallawa script in Sumatra in particular has been used longer.

The discovery of the original writings of the Archipelago and Southeast Asia originating from the Pallawa script is divided into five script groups.

The five script groups, namely the Batak script, the Hanacaraka script, the Ka Ga Nga (Kaganga) or Surat Ulu (Ulu script), the Sulawesi script and the Filipino script. (*)

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