The World of South Asian Scripts

Curated by Fei Du

South Asia has been home to a complex of writing systems. People have been using different scripts in different regions and time periods, to write in different languages, and for different purposes. Furthermore, with its intensive exchange with the wider Perso-Arabic world, East Asia, Southeast Asia, and Europe since ancient times, South Asia has witnessed a unique history of writing practices that exceeds the regional horizon.

This exhibit explores the rich historical heritage as well as the lively contemporary usage of South Asian scripts. Specimens are selected from the two major families of scripts, namely the Brahmic and the Perso-Arabic. The items being displayed here are intended to emphasize the diverse social and material contexts in which the scripts are used. When placed along with each other, these items also illustrate the interconnectedness and hybridity of the various traditions of writing in and beyond South Asia.