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Tamil script

Tamil Brahmi script was prevalent in Tamil Nadu from 3rd century BCE onwards and continued with variations upto 4th century of Common Era. During this time, the practice of writing Sanskrit letters in Tamil Nadu, commonly known as Grantha script was popularised by the Pallavas. This continued for nearly two centuries i.e. from 4th 6th century. The Tamil script evolved from the Grantha script around 7th century CE.

Inscriptions in the Tamil script are found from the beginning of the seventh century CE. Inscriptions in this script are found only in the northern portion of Tamil Nadu upto the beginning of the eleventh century CE. In the extreme south i.e. the Pandya country,  Vattezhuthu was in use. But with the occupation of the Pandya country by the Cholas after conquest in the closing years of the tenth century CE the Tamil script came to be used there also.  Thereafter, it has been in use throughout Tamil Nadu. 

We have inscriptions in Tamil script in some parts of Karnataka State and Nellore District in the Andhra State. Occasionally , we find Tamil inscriptions even at Visakhapattinam of the Andhra State and at Puri in the Orissa State; it is  also noticed  overseas in countries like China, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand.


Tamil Alphabets in Various Times

Tamil inscription in Sri Lankan Buddhist Vihara mention its name as  
'sri jagatoppa kandan perumpalli'

Bilingual (Tamil & Chinese)  inscription in China dated Saka era 1203 (1281 CE) Mentions the erection of deity Thirukkaniccuramudaiyar by one Sambandapperumal for the well being of 
Chinese emperor Cekacaikan Parman

If we look into the forms of the earliest available Tamil script; it is possible to conclude that they also developed similarly in that part of country itself in consonance with the evolution of the Grantha. The evolution of the Tamil script may be classified roughly into three stages: the archaic, the medieval and the latter varieties.

Archaic Tamil Inscriptions

Pallava / Mutharaiyar

Inscription in verse on a pillar, Tamil Script, Mutharaiyar chiefs, 8th Century, Sendalai, Thanjavur Dist.


Rock cut cave temple inscription in Tamil Script,
9th Century, Maranjadaiyan, Tirukkokarnam, Pudukkottai District 


Inscription In Tamil Script, Parantaka Chola 929CE, Gangaikondacholapuram, 
Perambalur District

Inscription on Temple Base In Tamil Script, Early Chola 10th Century CE, Kodumbalur, Pudukkottai District

Village  Assembly Election (Kudavolai) Inscription In Tamil Script, Parantakachola 
921 CE, Uttaramerur, Kanchipuram District

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Medieval Tamil Inscriptions


Inscription In Tamil Script, Vikkirama Chola, 1121CE, Sendalai, Thanjavur District


Inscription In Tamil Script, Pandya, 
13th Century, Pillamangalam, 
Sivaganga District


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Later Tamil Inscriptions

16th Century Inscription in Later Tamil script, Murugamangalam, Tiruvannamalai District

Labels of Nayak Paintings in Later Tamil script - Alakarkoil,  Madurai District, 17th Century

19th century Tamil Script on Palm leaves 

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