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U+11580–U+115FF Final Accepted Script Proposal Variant Forms

Siddhaṃ, also known in its later evolved form as Siddhamātṛkā,[1] is a script used for writing Sanskrit
Sanskrit
from c. 550 – c. 1200.[2] It is descended from the Brahmi script
Brahmi script
via the Gupta script and later evolved into the Assamese alphabet, the Maithili alphabet[3], the Bengali alphabet, and the Tibetan alphabet. There is some confusion over the spelling: Siddhāṃ and Siddhaṃ are both common, though Siddhaṃ is preferred as "correct".[4] The script is a refinement of the script used during the Gupta Empire. The word Siddhaṃ means "accomplished" or "perfected" in Sanskrit. The script received its name from the practice of writing Siddhaṃ, or Siddhaṃ astu (may there be perfection), at the head of documents. Other names for the script include bonji (Japanese: 梵字) lit. "Brahma's characters" and " Sanskrit
Sanskrit
script" and Chinese: 悉曇文字; pinyin: Xītán wénzi lit. "Siddhaṃ script". Siddhaṃ is an abugida rather than an alphabet because each character indicates a syllable, but it does not include every possible syllable. If no other mark occurs, the short 'a' is assumed. Diacritic marks indicate the other vowels, anusvara, and visarga. A virama can be used to indicate that the letter stands alone with no vowel, which sometimes happens at the end of Sanskrit
Sanskrit
words.

Contents

1 History 2 Alphabet

2.1 Vowels 2.2 Consonants

3 Conjuncts

3.1 ṛ syllables 3.2 Some sample syllables

4 Siddhaṃ fonts 5 Unicode 6 Notes 7 Sources 8 External links

History[edit]

Siddhaṃ manuscript of the Heart Sutra. Bibliothèque nationale de France

An early Siddhaṃ manuscript, dated to the first half of the 6th century (the so-called "Horiuzi Palm-leaf MSS" preserved in Hōryū-ji, Japan). It contains the Sanskrit
Sanskrit
text of the Heart Sutra and the Uṣṇīṣa Vijaya Dhāraṇī Sūtra. The final line is a Siddhaṃ alphasyllabary.

Chinese use of the Siddhaṃ script
Siddhaṃ script
for the Pratisara mantra, from the Later Tang. 927 CE

Chinese use of the Siddhaṃ script
Siddhaṃ script
for the Mahāpratyaṅgirā mantra. 971 CE

Siddhaṃ Bijakshara A, Daishō-in, Miyajima

Mirror with bijaksharas, Miyajima

Many Buddhist texts
Buddhist texts
taken to China along the Silk Road
Silk Road
were written using a version of the Siddhaṃ script. This continued to evolve, and minor variations are seen across time, and in different regions. Importantly it was used for transmitting the Buddhist tantra texts. At the time it was considered important to preserve the pronunciation of mantras, and Chinese was not suitable for writing the sounds of Sanskrit. This led to the retention of the Siddhaṃ script
Siddhaṃ script
in East Asia. The practice of writing using Siddhaṃ survived in East Asia where Tantric Buddhism persisted. Kūkai
Kūkai
introduced the Siddhaṃ script
Siddhaṃ script
to Japan
Japan
when he returned from China in 806, where he studied Sanskrit
Sanskrit
with Nalanda-trained monks including one known as Prajñā (Chinese: 般若三藏; pinyin: Bōrě Sāncáng, 734–c. 810). By the time Kūkai
Kūkai
learned this script, the trading and pilgrimage routes over land to India
India
had been closed by the expanding Abbasid Caliphate. In Japan, the writing of mantras and copying/reading of sutras using the Siddhaṃ script
Siddhaṃ script
is still practiced in the esoteric schools of Shingon Buddhism
Shingon Buddhism
and Tendai
Tendai
as well as in the syncretic sect of Shugendō. The characters are known as shittan (悉曇) or bonji (梵字, Chinese: Fànzì). The Taishō Tripiṭaka version of the Chinese Buddhist canon
Chinese Buddhist canon
preserves the Siddhaṃ characters for most mantras, and Korean Buddhists still write bījas in a modified form of Siddhaṃ. A recent innovation is the writing of Japanese language slogans on T-shirts using Bonji. Japanese Siddhaṃ has evolved from the original script used to write sūtras and is now somewhat different from the ancient script. It is typical to see Siddhaṃ written with a brush, as with Chinese writing; it is also written with a bamboo pen. In Japan, a special brush called a bokuhitsu (朴筆, Cantonese: pokbat) is used for formal Siddhaṃ calligraphy. The informal style is known as "fude" (筆, Cantonese: "moubat"). In the middle of the 9th century, China experienced a series of purges of "foreign religions", thus cutting Japan
Japan
off from the sources of Siddhaṃ texts. In time, other scripts, particularly Devanagari, replaced Siddhaṃ in India, while in Bengal, Siddhaṃ evolved to become the Bengali alphabet, leaving East Asia
East Asia
as the only region where Siddhaṃ is still used. There were special forms of Siddhaṃ used in Korea that varied significantly from those used in China and Japan, and there is evidence that Siddhaṃ was written in Central Asia, as well, by the early 7th century. As was done with Chinese characters, Japanese Buddhist scholars sometimes created multiple characters with the same phonological value to add meaning to Siddhaṃ characters. This practice, in effect, represents a 'blend' of the Chinese style of writing and the Indian style of writing and allows Sanskrit
Sanskrit
texts in Siddhaṃ to be differentially interpreted as they are read, as was done with Chinese characters that the Japanese had adopted. This led to multiple variants of the same characters.[5] With regards to directionality, Siddhaṃ texts were usually read from left-to-right then top-to-bottom, as with Indic languages, but occasionally they were written in the traditional Chinese style, from top-to-bottom then right-to-left. Bilingual Siddhaṃ-Japanese texts show the manuscript turned 90 degrees clockwise and the Japanese is written from top-to-bottom, as is typical of Japanese, and then the manuscript is turned back again, and the Siddhaṃ writing is continued from left-to-right (the resulting Japanese characters look sideways). Over time, additional markings were developed, including punctuation marks, head marks, repetition marks, end marks, special ligatures to combine conjuncts and rarely to combine syllables, and several ornaments of the scribe's choice, which are not currently encoded. The nuqta is also used in some modern Siddhaṃ texts. Alphabet[edit] Vowels[edit]

Independent form Romanized As diacritic with Independent form Romanized As diacritic with

a

ā

i

ī

u

ū

e

ai

o

au

aṃ

aḥ

Independent form Romanized As diacritic with Independent form Romanized As diacritic with

Alternative forms

ā i i ī ī u ū o au aṃ

Consonants[edit]

Stop Approximant Fricative

Tenuis Aspirated Voiced Breathy voiced Nasal

Glottal

h

Velar k kh g gh ṅ

Palatal c ch j jh ñ y ś

Retroflex ṭ ṭh ḍ ḍh ṇ r ṣ

Dental t th d dh n l s

Bilabial p ph b bh m

Labiodental

v

Conjuncts in alphabet

kṣ llaṃ

Alternative forms

ch j ñ ṭ ṭh ḍh ḍh ṇ ṇ th th dh n m ś ś v

Conjuncts[edit]

Siddhaṃ alphabet
Siddhaṃ alphabet
by Kūkai
Kūkai
(774–835)

k

displaystyle cdots

kṣ -ya -ra -la -va -ma -na

k kya kra kla kva kma kna

rk rkya rkra rkla rkva rkma rkna

kh

displaystyle cdots

displaystyle vdots

    total 68 rows.

↑ The combinations that contain adjoining duplicate letters should be deleted in this table.

ṅka ṅkha ṅga ṅgha

ñca ñcha ñja ñjha

ṇṭa ṇṭha ṇḍa ṇḍha

nta ntha nda ndha

mpa mpha mba mbha

ṅya ṅra ṅla ṅva

ṅśa ṅṣa ṅsa ṅha ṅkṣa

ska skha dga dgha ṅktra

vca/bca vcha/bcha vja/bja vjha/bjha jña

ṣṭa ṣṭha dḍa dḍha ṣṇa

sta stha vda/bda vdha/bdha rtsna

spa spha dba dbha rkṣma

rkṣvya rkṣvrya lta tkva

ṭśa ṭṣa sha bkṣa

pta ṭka dsva ṭṣchra

jja ṭṭa ṇṇa tta nna mma lla vva

displaystyle cdots

Alternative forms of conjuncts that contain ṇ.

ṇṭa ṇṭha ṇḍa ṇḍha

ṛ syllables[edit]

kṛ khṛ gṛ ghṛ ṅṛ cṛ chṛ jṛ jhṛ ñṛ

displaystyle cdots

Some sample syllables[edit]

rka rkā rki rkī rku rkū rke rkai rko rkau rkaṃ rkaḥ

ṅka ṅkā ṅki ṅkī ṅku ṅkū ṅke ṅkai ṅko ṅkau ṅkaṃ ṅkaḥ

Siddhaṃ fonts[edit] Siddhaṃ is still largely a hand written script. Some efforts have been made to create computer fonts, though to date none of these are capable of reproducing all of the Siddhaṃ conjunct consonants. Notably, the Chinese Buddhist Electronic Texts Association has created a Siddhaṃ font for their electronic version of the Taisho Tripiṭaka, though this does not contain all possible conjuncts. The software Mojikyo also contains fonts for Siddhaṃ, but split Siddhaṃ in different blocks and requires multiple fonts to render a single document. A Siddhaṃ input system which relies on the CBETA font Siddhamkey 3.0 has been produced. Unicode[edit] Main article: Siddham ( Unicode
Unicode
block) Siddhaṃ script
Siddhaṃ script
was added to the Unicode
Unicode
Standard in June 2014 with the release of version 7.0. The Unicode
Unicode
block for Siddhaṃ is U+11580–U+115FF:

Siddham[1][2] Official Unicode
Unicode
Consortium code chart (PDF)

  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F

U+1158x 𑖀 𑖁 𑖂 𑖃 𑖄 𑖅 𑖆 𑖇 𑖈 𑖉 𑖊 𑖋 𑖌 𑖍 𑖎 𑖏

U+1159x 𑖐 𑖑 𑖒 𑖓 𑖔 𑖕 𑖖 𑖗 𑖘 𑖙 𑖚 𑖛 𑖜 𑖝 𑖞 𑖟

U+115Ax 𑖠 𑖡 𑖢 𑖣 𑖤 𑖥 𑖦 𑖧 𑖨 𑖩 𑖪 𑖫 𑖬 𑖭 𑖮 𑖯

U+115Bx 𑖰 𑖱 𑖲 𑖳 𑖴 𑖵

𑖸 𑖹 𑖺 𑖻 𑖼 𑖽 𑖾 𑖿

U+115Cx 𑗀 𑗁 𑗂 𑗃 𑗄 𑗅 𑗆 𑗇 𑗈 𑗉 𑗊 𑗋 𑗌 𑗍 𑗎 𑗏

U+115Dx 𑗐 𑗑 𑗒 𑗓 𑗔 𑗕 𑗖 𑗗 𑗘 𑗙 𑗚 𑗛 𑗜 𑗝

U+115Ex

U+115Fx

Notes

1.^ As of Unicode
Unicode
version 10.0 2.^ Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points

Notes[edit]

^ Rajan, Vinodh; Sharma, Shriramana (2012-06-28). "L2/12-221: Comments on naming the "Siddham" encoding" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-08-19.  ^ Pandey, Anshuman (2012-08-01). "N4294: Proposal to Encode the Siddham Script in ISO/IEC 10646" (PDF). Working Group Document, ISO/IEC JTC1/SC2/WG2.  ^ "Devanagari: Development, Amplification, and Standardisation". Central Hindi Directorate, Ministry of Education and Social Welfare, Govt. of India. 3 April 1977. Retrieved 3 April 2018 – via Google Books.  ^ Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary, page 1215, col. 1 http://www.sanskrit-lexicon.uni-koeln.de/monier/ ^ Kawabata, Taichi; Suzuki, Toshiya; Nagasaki, Kiyonori; Shimoda, Masahiro (2013-06-11). "N4407R: Proposal to Encode Variants for Siddham Script" (PDF). Working Group Document, ISO/IEC JTC1/SC2/WG2. 

Sources[edit]

Bonji Taikan (梵字大鑑). (Tōkyō: Meicho Fukyūkai, 1983) Chaudhuri, Saroj Kumar (1998). Siddham in China and Japan, Sino-Platonic papers No. 88 Stevens, John. Sacred Calligraphy of the East. (Boston: Shambala, 1995.) Van Gulik, R.H. Siddham: An Essay on the History of Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Studies in China and Japan
Japan
(New Delhi, Jayyed Press, 1981). Yamasaki, Taikō. Shingon: Japanese Esoteric Buddhism. (Fresno: Shingon Buddhist International Institute, 1988.)

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Siddham script.

Muktamsiddham—Free Unicode
Unicode
Siddham font (pre Unicode
Unicode
7.0, mapped to Devanagari
Devanagari
codepoints) ApDevaSiddham—(Japanese) Free Unicode
Unicode
8.0 Siddham Font (mirror) Siddham alphabet on Omniglot Examples of Siddham mantras Chinese language
Chinese language
website. Visible Mantra
Mantra
an extensive collection of mantras and some sūtras in Siddhaṃ script Bonji Siddham Character and Pronunciation SiddhamKey Software for inputting Siddham characters

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