'Story or History of writing'/Part:18

[The punch-marked coins of India also show the continued use of Indus Valley signs after the decline of civilization in the Indus Valley.Kalyanaraman provides a detailed
discussion of the relationship between the punch-marked coins of India and the Harappan writing. As can be seen from Figure , the punch-marked coins and Indus Valley signs are similar]
The designation for the most ancient script of Tamil remains controversial. However, a general consensus is that the brahmi script had a Southern version from which the Tamil script is evolved after a series of intermediate stages from 3 rd Century B.C. to 18th Century A.D. The Southern version of brahmi script,invariably called Tamil-brahmi, Dravidi and Damili, is dated in the 3rd B.C. mostly based on the inscriptions survived in several distinct forms. The later development of Tamil- brahmi script was termed Vattezhutthu (circular script), literally "rounded script", is an abugida writing system and it is distinct in many respects from the brahmi script in that it introduced circular shapes that look very much similar to the present day Tamil script. This scheme of writing was commonly used from the beginning of the Pallava rule in Tamil country which dates to C. 600 A.D. Degeneration of Vattezhutthu led to the present form of Tamil script, which was adopted during the post Pallava period and the early Chola period, which lasted between 9th Century A.D. and 12th Century A.D.The Grantha script was developed along these lines to write formerly the Prakrit language and later the Sanskrit language. So, after the the Tamil Brahmi [or Tamili]
                                   [Tamil text in Sangam Tamil (vatteluttu)  Rock inscription                                     at Thirunathar - probably 4th. Century AD] 














script,Vattezhutthu [வட்டெழுத்து] developed from Tamili, alongside the ancient Grantha or Pallava alphabet and the Tamil script. The syllabic alphabet is attested from the 6th century CE to the 14th century in present-day Tamil Nadu and Kerala states of India. It was later supplanted by modern Tamil script and Malayalam script. Vaṭṭeḻuttu replaced Tamil-Brahmi for writing Tamil after the 2nd century CE. This rounded form of writing was also used in Kerala to write in Tamil as well as in proto-Malayalam and Malayalam language.

                                      [Tamil text in Tamil Brahmi - rock inscription                                
       at Sittanavasal probably 4th. Century AD]
Two other names  for the Tamil script found in the earliest extant Tamil literature are "Kannezhutthu" - the letters by the eye /கண்ணெழுத்து and  Koleluttu -Rod script, straight script,/கோலெழுத்து. "Kannezhutthu" also suggestive of the rounded shape, is referred  at two places in Silappadhikaram on the bundles or trade goods that are stamped with seals ,which are signs or symbols that indicate the nature of goods, the trader etc which can be easily understood just by looking at it. In one place this is being told in the context of goods that had reached Pumpukar. Another reference is to the goods sent  to the Cheran king. These goods contained the wealth and goods and bore Kannezhutthu .Those verses are reproduced below: 

"வம்ப மாக்கள் தம் பெயர் பொறித்த கண்ணெழுத்துப் படுத்த எண்ணுப் பல்பொதிக் கடைமுக வாயில்.." (சிலப் – 5 – 111.113) and 

"எய்யா வடவளத்து இருபதினாயிரம் கண்ணெழுத்துப் படுத்தன கைபுனை சகடமும்"  ( சிலப்- 26 -135 & 136)

and  Koleluttu -Rod script, straight script,/கோலெழுத்து suggestive of use of a stylus, and referred to in the Kural as :

“எழுதும்கால் கோல் காணாக் கண்ணேபோல் கொண்கன் பழி காணேன் கண்ட இடத்து"
Like the eyes which see not the pencil that paints it, I cannot see my husband's fault (just) when I meet him./Kural 1285 ".

Like ‘Vattezhuthu’, Kolezhuthu also had no consonants. The script was recorded using sharp writing tools like ‘kol’ or “ezhuthani’ and hence the name ‘Kolezhuthu’.Both ‘Vattezhuthu’ and ‘Kolezhuthu’ are similar script systems, except that in kolezhuthu there are no specific symbols for endings in u and for a and o. A number of documents unearthed show that these scripts had been widely used and that till the beginning of the 20th century, the Muslims of Malabar used ‘Kolezhuthu’ script. The absence of consonants in both these scripts prove that they along with Tamil script, originated from the same family. kol ezhuthu script was more commonly used in the Cochin and Malabar areas .The word Kol means stick and as it is indicated the script is oblong in shape.  Kolezhuthu, which means "line letters", in contrast with Vattezhuthu, which means "circle letters", is considered by some to also have been known as Pallava-Chola script, which eventually evolved into the Tamil script that is used for the Tamil language.

The punch-marked coins of India,which also show the continued use of Indus Valley signs after the decline of civilization in the Indus Valleyis attached here. Kalyanaraman provides a detailed discussion of the relationship between the punch-marked coins of India and the Harappan writing. As can be seen from Figure , the punch-marked coins and Indus Valley signs are similar.Also, Rock inscription at Thirunathar - probably 4th. Century AD with Tamil text in Sangam Tamil (vatteluttu) as well as rock inscription at Sittanavasal probably 4th. Century AD with Tamil text in Tamil Brahmi attached here.

[Kandiah Thillaivinayagalingam]

Part:19 will follow

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