Manichaean script

The Manichaean script is an abjad-based writing system rooted in the Semitic family of alphabets and associated with the spread of Manichaeism from southwest to central Asia and beyond, beginning in the 3rd century CE. It bears a sibling relationship to early forms of the Pahlavi script, both systems having developed from the Imperial Aramaic alphabet, in which the Achaemenid court rendered its particular, official dialect of the Aramaic language. Unlike Pahlavi, Manichaean script reveals influences from Sogdian script, which in turn descends from the Syriac branch of Aramaic. Manichaean script is so named because Manichaean texts attribute its design to Mani himself. Middle Persian is written with this alphabet.

Manichaean script
Table of letters from Manichaean script, with their Latin transliterations
Script type
Time period
3rd century c. 10th century CE
Directionright-to-left script 
LanguagesMiddle Iranian and Tocharian languages
Related scripts
Parent systems
ISO 15924
ISO 15924Mani (139), Manichaean
Unicode alias
Final Accepted Script Proposal

The Iranologist Desmond Durkin-Meisterernst notes that the Manichaean script was mainly used to write numerous Middle Iranian languages (Manichaean Middle Persian, Parthian, Sogdian, Early New Persian, Bactrian), and Old Uyghur (a Turkic language).[1] The Manichaean script is closely related to the Palmyrene script of Aramaic and the Estrangelo script of Syriac.[1]

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