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Javanese script

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Title: Javanese script  
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Collection: Javanese Script, Scripts Encoded in Unicode 5.2
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Javanese script

Languages Javanese
Madurese (Carakan)
Time period
c. 13th–present
Parent systems
Sister systems
Balinese alphabet
Batak alphabet
Kulitan alphabet
Buhid alphabet
Hanunó'o alphabet
Lontara alphabet
Sundanese alphabet
Rencong alphabet
Rejang alphabet
Tagbanwa alphabet
ISO 15924 Java, 361
Direction Left-to-right
Unicode alias

The Javanese script, natively known as Aksara Jawa (ꦲꦏ꧀ꦱꦫꦗꦮ) and Hanacaraka (ꦲꦤꦕꦫꦏ), is an abugida developed by the Javanese people to write several Austronesian languages spoken in Indonesia, primarily the Javanese language and an early form of Javanese called Kawi, as well as Sanskrit, an Indo-Aryan language used as a sacred language throughout Asia. The Javanese script is a descendant of the Brahmi script and therefore has many similarities with the modern scripts of South and Southeast Asia. The Javanese script, along with the Balinese script, is considered the most elaborate and ornate among Brahmic scripts of Southeast Asia.[1]

The script was widely used by the court scribes of Java and the Lesser Sunda Islands. Numerous efforts to standardize the script were made in the late 19th to early 20th-century, with the invention of the script's first metal type and the development of concise orthographic guidelines. However, further development was halted abruptly following World War II[2] and especially during the Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies in which its use was prohibited and the script's use has since declined. Today, everyday use of the Javanese script has been largely supplanted by the Latin alphabet.[3][4][5]


  • Characteristics 1
  • History 2
  • Aksara 3
    • Pasangan 3.1
  • Additional Aksara 4
  • Sandhangan 5
  • Numerals 6
  • Punctuation 7
    • Correction mark 7.1
  • Collation 8
  • Sanskrit Usage 9
  • Sundanese Usage 10
  • Balinese Usage 11
  • Indonesian and English Transcription into Javanese 12
  • Font 13
  • Unicode 14
  • Gallery 15
    • Manuscripts 15.1
    • Public Signage 15.2
    • Graphics 15.3
  • References 16
  • External links 17


There are a total of 53 letters in the Javanese script, but the number of represented phonemes [distinct sounds] varies accordingly to the language being written. Each letter represents a syllable, with an inherent vowel /a/ or /ɔ/, which changes depending on the diacritics around the letter. Each consonant has a conjunct form called pasangan which nullifies the inherent vowel of the previous syllable.[6] In the word aksara for example, the inherent vowel of the letter ka is nullified by the use of pasangan in the following letter.

Punctuation includes the comma, period, colon, and quotation marks, as well as several decorative marks indicating poetic chapter and denoting rank in correspondence.[7] Text is written from left to right and without word boundaries (Scriptio continua).[8]

Many of the letters are constructed from visually similar components, most notably n-shaped 'hills' and u-shaped 'valleys', arranged in different sequences. There are only a few components unique to certain characters and even fewer letters that are truly unique, resulting in a very uniform-looking script.[9]


19th-century Javanese manuscript of Panji Angreni, folio 10v.

The Javanese and Balinese alphabets are both modern variants of the Kawi script, a Brahmi script developed in Java around the ninth century. It was widely used in religious literature written in palm-leaf manuscripts called lontar. Over the Hindu-Buddhist period the letter forms changed into Javanese, and by the 17th century, the script was identifiable as in its modern form.[3][10]

The Javanese script was mainly employed by court scribes centered in Surakarta and Yogyakarta, but the use was widespread among various courts of Java and the Lesser Sunda Islands. They are used to write historical accounts (babad), stories (serat), ancient verses (kakawin), and divination guides (primbon) among many others, with the most popular being copied and rewritten over the centuries.[4][11]

The first Javanese metal type font was produced in the 1830s by the Dutch. Two other cursive type fonts were also produced in the early 20th-century.[6] In 1926, an academic workshop in Sriwedari, Surakarta issued Wewaton Sriwedari or the "Sriwedari Resolve" as the first standard for Javanese spelling and orthography. Since then, numerous guidelines on Javanese orthography have been published.[12]

However, further development was halted abruptly during the second World War when the use of the Javanese script was prohibited during the Japanese occupation. Currently, there are no newspapers or magazines being printed in the Javanese script and it is mainly used for decorative or scholarly purposes. Everyday use of the script has been largely replaced by the Latin alphabet. As a preservation effort, the Indonesian government prescribed most elementary and junior-high schools in Javanese speaking areas to teach the script as a compulsory subject.[6][13] Its use is also encouraged by the Central Javanese government in road signs and public signage alongside Indonesian as administered in the 2012 local legislation.[14]


A single letter in the Javanese script is called an aksara (ꦲꦏ꧀ꦱꦫ), which stands for a syllable with an inherent vowel of /a/ or /ɔ/ depending on the letter's position relation to other letters.[8] It can also depend on the speaker's dialect; speakers of Western Javanese dialects tend to pronounce the inherent vowel as /a/, while those of Eastern Javanese prefer /ɔ/. Rules determining the inherent vowel of a letter are described in Wewaton Sriwedari as follows:[15]

  1. A letter stands for a syllable with the vowel /ɔ/ if the previous letter contains diacritics.
  2. A letter stands for a syllable with the vowel /a/ if the following character contains diacritics.
  3. The first letter of a word normally has the /ɔ/ vowel, unless it precedes two other letters without diacritics, in which case the first letter has the /a/ vowel.

There are a total of 53 letters in the Javanese script, but the number of represented phonemes vary accordingly to the language being written. For example, transcription of Sanskrit uses 33 consonants and 14 vowels, while the modern orthography (based on the Javanese language) uses 20 consonants and 5 vowels. The other letters have lost their original distinct pronunciations and are used instead for honorific purposes.[6]

Consonant letters are as follows:

Wyanjana (Consonants)
IPA ha na tʃa ra ka da ta sa wa la pa ɖa dʒa ja ɲa ma ga ba ʈa ŋa
Transcription ha na ca ra ka da ta sa wa la pa dha ja ya nya ma ga ba tha nga

^1 Only found in non-initial position as ◌꧀ꦖ. ^2 Originally jnya ꦗ꧀ꦚ, but later developed into a single letter.[3]

Modern Javanese uses 20 consonants, and each consonant can be represented with up to 3 letter cases: a lower case called nglegéna, an upper case called murda or gedé, and the mahaprana case.[1]

Murda are similar to capital letters, but they are not used at the beginning of a sentence. They are used as honorifics in the first syllable of a proper name, usually that of a respected person or a place. Not all nglegéna letters have a murda form, and if a murda letter is not available for a name's first syllable, the second letter is capitalized. If the second letter does not have a murda either, the third letter is capitalized, and so on. Highly respected names may be all capitalized if the corresponding murda are available.

Mahaprana translates to "aspirated". They were originally aspirated consonants used in Sanskrit and Kawi transliterations. However, their occurrence is rare. Their proper usage in modern orthography is otherwise unknown, as there are no aspirated consonants in modern Javanese, and they are often omitted from books discussing the script.[3]

To produce pure vowels, ha is used to represent zero consonant.[16] Otherwise, there are also letters for pure vowels called swara as follows:

Swara (Vowels)
IPA a i u e o
Transcription a i u e o

Swara are used to differentiate proper names in a similar matter to murda. For example, the verb ayu (graceful) is written with the syllable ha (ꦲꦪꦸ) while the personal name Ayu is written with swara instead (ꦄꦪꦸ). Swara are also used for words of foreign origin. The element Argon for example, is written with swara.[12][17]


Pasangan is a counterpart of aksara, usually in subscript form, that eliminates the inherent vowel of the attaching syllable. It is used for consonant clusters or closed syllables that occur in the middle of a sentence. For example, nda is made by attaching pasangan da to the syllable na.[3]

IPA ha na tʃa ra ka da ta sa wa la pa ɖa dʒa ja ɲa ma ga ba ʈa ŋa
Transcription ha na ca ra ka da ta sa wa la pa dha ja ya nya ma ga ba tha nga

Swara don't have a pasangan. However, the letter can be sub-scripted in similar manner to disambiguate proper names.[17]

Additional Aksara

Due to the loss of their original pronunciation or to accommodate foreign loan words, there are several aksara that are re-categorized and added in the modern repertoire. Each of these additional aksara has a pasangan, but they are devoid of murda or mahaprana case. They are as follows:[3][17]

Aksara Pasangan IPA Transc. Name Description
re Pa cerek Originally /ɽ/, /l̪/, and /l̪:/ present in the early development of the script due to Sanskrit influence. Contemporary orthography established them as ganten, syllables with vowel /ə/ which replaces ra+pepet, la+pepet, and la+pepet+tarung combination respectively. As it already carry a fixed vowel value, it may not be attached with vowel diacritics.
le Nga lelet
leu Nga lelet raswadi
ra ra Ra agung Historically used by some writers to address royal figures.
qa qa Ka sasak Traditional transliteration of /qa/ adopted from the Sasak language.
ħa ha Rekan[18] Most sounds not native to the Javanese language are indicated by adding U+A9B3 ◌꦳ JAVANESE SIGN CECAK TELU over similar sounding syllable. The resulting letters are called rekan or rekaan, which is commonly used for Arabic and Dutch loanwords. Additional rekan further extend Arabic and even add Chinese sounds, however their occurrence is rare.
xa kha
ða dza
za za
ʃa sya
ɣa gha
fa fa
ʔa 'a
N/A ? the
N/A ? se
N/A ? nie
N/A ? hwe
N/A ? yo
N/A ? syo


Diacritics or dependent signs are called sandhangan (ꦱꦟ꧀ꦝꦔꦤ꧀). They are as follow:[17]

Sandhangan Swara (Vowel Diacritic)
Sandhangan -
IPA a i u e o ə
Transcription a i u é o e
Name - wulu suku taling taling-tarung pepet

Sandhangan IPA Transc. Name Description
◌̃ -m Sesigeg Panyangga Nasalizes vowel, parallel to the candrabindu (only used in the religious symbol om).
-ng Cecak Adds final /ŋ/ to a syllable. Parallel to anusvara.
-r -r Layar Adds final /r/ to a syllable.
-h -h Wignyan Adds final /h/ to a syllable. Parallel to visarga.
-rə -re Wyanjana Keret Medial consonant signs. Originally, these signs were pasangan of U+A989 JAVANESE LETTER PA CEREK, U+A9AA JAVANESE LETTER YA, and U+A9AB JAVANESE LETTER RA respectively. In current orthography, the use of pasangan indicates that the letter is part of the following word while wyanjana diacritics are used in consonant cluster of a single word.
-j- -y- Pengkal
-r- -r- Cakra
or - - Patèn / Pangkon Nullifies inherent vowel. Only used at the end of a sentence.


The Javanese numeral system has its own script, which only contains 0–9 numerals.[8]

Angka (Numeral)
Numeral 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0
Name siji loro telu papat lima nem pitu wolu sanga nol

When writing numbers greater than 9, the above numbers are simply combined as one would do using the Arabic numerals. For example, 21 is written by combining the numeral 2 and 1 as so; ꧒꧑. Similarly, the number 90 would be the ꧙꧐.[8]

Most of the numbers are similar to the syllable characters. To avoid confusion, numbers that show up in Javanese texts are indicated by "numeral indicators" called pada pangkat, written both before and after the number, following the pattern: text - indicator - numbers - indicator - text. For example; Wednesday, 27 March 2013 would be written as ꦱꦼꦭꦱ꧇꧑꧙꧇ꦩꦉꦠ꧀꧇꧒꧐꧑꧓꧇ (selasa 19 maret 2013).[8]


Primary Pada[8]
Pada Name Description
Pada adeg Parentheses or quotation marks
Pada adeg-adeg Introduce a paragraph or section
and Pada piseleh Functions similarly to pada adeg
Pada lingsa Functions similarly to a comma but not needed after a consonant-ending word that is represented by a pangkon. It acts as a period if preceded by pangkon.
Pada lungsi Period.
Pada pangkat Numeral indicator or colon
Pada rangkep Iteration mark. It functions similarly to 2 or 2 in the Indonesian Republican Spelling System. The character derives from the Arabic digit two but does not have a numeric use. It was proposed as a separate character because of the bidirectional properties of the Arabic digit.[3][17]
Special pada[8]
Pada Name Description
and Rerengan Flanks title
Pada luhur Introduces a letter to a person of older age or higher rank
Pada madya Introduces a letter to a person of equal age or rank
Pada andhap Introduces a letter to a person of younger age or lower rank
Pada guru Introduces a letter without age or rank distinction
Pada pancak Ends a letter

Purwapada Introduces a poem
Madyapada Indicates a new song within a poem
Wasanapada Indicates the end of a poem.

Correction mark

There are two special marks to indicate error in writing, pada tirta tumétés and pada isèn-isèn. Though only used in handwriting, the two are included into the Unicode range for the purpose of rendering Javanese texts. Tirta tumétés is used in Yogyakarta, while isèn-isèn is used in Surakarta. For example, a scribe wants to write pada luhur, but wrote pada wu ..., a scribe from Yogyakarta would write:


Pada wu---luhur

In Surakarta, it would be:



Javanese letters are commonly arranged in the hanacaraka sequence, as follows:

of which the line-by-line translation[8] would be:

There (were) two messengers. (They) had animosity (among each other). (They were) equally powerful (in fight). Here are the corpses.

The sequence forms a poem of 4 verses narrating the myth of Aji Saka.[1] However, the hanacaraka sequence excludes murda and mahaprana letters.

Letters can also be arranged phonetically according to standard Sanskrit, called the kaganga sequence, which is how the script is arranged in its Unicode range. The arrangement is as follows:[3]


Sanskrit Usage

Wyanjana (Consonants)[17][19][20]
Plosive Velar Palatal Retroflex Dental Labial Glottal
Aksara IPA Transc. Aksara IPA Transc. Aksara IPA Transc. Aksara IPA Transc. Aksara IPA Transc. Aksara IPA Transc.
ka ka tʃa ca ʈa ṭa ta ta pa pa
kʰa kha tʃʰa cha ʈʰa ṭha tʰa tha pʰa pha
ga ga dʒɑ ja ɖa ḍa da da ba ba
gʰa gha dʒʰɑ jha ɖʰa ḍha dʰa dha bʰa bha
Nasal ŋa nga ɲa nya ɳa ṇa na na ma ma
Semivowel wa wa ja ya
Liquid ra ra la la
Fricative ɕa śa ʂa ṣa sa sa ha ha

Swara (Vowels)[17][19]
Short Aksara
IPA a i u ɽ e o
Transcription a i u e o
Long Aksara ꦄꦴ ꦈꦴ ꦉꦴ ꦎꦴ
IPA ɽː l̪ː aːɪ aːʊ
Transcription ā ī ū ai au

Sandhangan Swara (Vowel Diacritic)[17][19]
Short Sandhangan - ◌ꦶ ◌ꦸ ◌ꦽ ◌꧀ꦊ ◌ꦺ ◌ꦺꦴ
IPA a i u ɽ e o
Transcription a i u e o
Long Sandhangan ◌ꦴ ◌ꦷ ◌ꦹ ◌ꦽꦴ ◌꧀ꦋ ◌ꦻ ◌ꦻꦴ
IPA ɽː l̪ː aːɪ aːʊ
Transcription ā ī ū ai au

Sundanese Usage

The Javanese script is also used for writing Sundanese. But the script was modified and called Cacarakan instead. It differs from Javanese by omitting the dha and tha. A difference can also be seen in the use of pepet-tarung for the vowel /ɤ/,[17] a sound that doesn't exist in Javanese, the simplification of the vowel /o/ into a single diacritic called tolong,[17] and a different "nya" form[17] (see rekan for Sundanese).

Balinese Usage

The Javanese and Balinese scripts are essentially typographic variants. Like Sundanese, the Balinese script omits the consonants dha and tha. However, obsolete characters are still used in numerous loan words from Sanskrit or Old Javanese.[21]

Javanese Script
Balinese Script
Javanese script Balinese script

Indonesian and English Transcription into Javanese

A mall in Surakarta, Central Java.

The Javanese script is also used to transliterate Indonesian words and English words, as can be witnessed in public places, especially in Surakarta and its surrounding area. Words from either Indonesian or English origin are written as they are pronounced in Javanese, not as they were written in Latin. For example, "Solo Grand Mall" transliterated as ꦱꦺꦴꦭꦺꦴꦒꦿꦺꦤ꧀ꦩꦭ꧀, which transliterates back as "solo gren mal" (pronounced /solo gren mɔl/).


Comparison of several Javanese fonts
Hanacaraka/Pallawa by Teguh Budi Sayoga
JG Aksara Jawa, by Jason Glavy
Tuladha Jejeg, by R.S. Wihananto
Aturra, by Aditya Bayu
Adjisaka, by Sudarto HS/Ki Demang Sokowanten

As of 2013, there are several widely published fonts able to support Javanese, ANSI-based Hanacaraka/Pallawa by Teguh Budi Sayoga,[22] Adjisaka by Sudarto HS/Ki Demang Sokowanten,[23] JG Aksara Jawa by Jason Glavy,[24] Carakan Anyar by Pavkar Dukunov,[25] and Tuladha Jejeg by R.S. Wihananto,[26] which is based on Graphite (SIL) smart font technology. Other fonts with limited publishing includes Surakarta made by Matthew Arciniega in 1992 for Mac's screen font,[27] and Tjarakan developed by AGFA Monotype around 2000.[28] There is also a symbol-based font called Aturra developed by Aditya Bayu in 2012–2013.[29] In 2014, Google introduced Noto Sans Javanese as part of its Noto font series to support all the world's languages.[30]

Due to the script's complexity, many Javanese fonts have different input methods compared to other Indic scripts and may exhibit several flaws. JG Aksara Jawa, in particular, may cause conflicts with other writing systems, as the font uses code points from other writing systems to complement Javanese's extensive repertoire. This is to be expected, as the font was made before the implementation of the Javanese script in Unicode.[31]

Arguably, the most "complete" font, in terms of technicality and glyph count, is Tuladha Jejeg. It is capable of logical input-method and displaying complex syllable structure, and supports an extensive glyph repertoire including non-standard forms which may not be found in regular Javanese texts, by utilizing Graphite (SIL) smart font technology. However, as not many writing systems require such complex features, use is limited to programs with Graphite technology, such as Firefox browser, Thunderbird email client, and several OpenType word processors. The font was chosen for displaying Javanese script in the Javanese WorldHeritage.[17]


Javanese script was added to the Unicode Standard in October, 2009 with the release of version 5.2.

The Unicode block for Javanese is U+A980–U+A9DF. There are 91 codepoints for Javanese script: 53 letters, 19 punctuation marks, 10 numbers, and 9 vowels:

Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F
U+A9Bx ꦿ
1.^ As of Unicode version 8.0
2.^ Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points



Details. Gilded chapter separator in Serat Selarasa, folio 10r. 18th-century.

Public Signage



  1. ^ a b c Kuipers, Joel (2003). Indic Scripts of Insular Southeast Asia: Changing Structures and Functions. Tokyo: Tokyo University of Foreign Studies.
  2. ^ Javaans Schrift. (Semaian 8), W. van der Molen. Review by: RAECHELLE RUBINSTEIN. Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde. Deel 150, 1ste Afl. (1994) , pp. 243-244. Published by: KITLV, Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies. JSTOR 27864536
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Everson, Michael (2008). Proposal for encoding the Javanese script in the UCS
  4. ^ a b Soebadyo, Haryati (2002) Indonesian Heritage 10: Bahasa dan Sastra. Jakarta: Buku Anak Bangsa - Grolier International. ISBN 979-8926-23-4
  5. ^ Leinster, Troy (2012). Nieuw Javaansch No.1. The Hague
  6. ^ a b c d "Javanese Script Description". Script Source. Retrieved 2014-05-09. 
  7. ^ Daniels, Peter T; Bright, William. The World's Writing Systems. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h Soemarmo, Marmo (1995). Javanese Script. Ohio Working Papers in Linguistics and Language Teaching 14. 69-103.
  9. ^ Adien Gunarta (2014-05-05). "Pengantar Tipografi Aksara Jawa oleh Aditya Bayu". Retrieved 2014-05-10. 
  10. ^ Campbell, George L. (2000). Compendium of the World's Languages. Vol. 1. New York: Routledge.
  11. ^ Gallop, Annabel T. (2012) Golden Letters: Writing Traditions of Indonesia. Jakarta: Lontar Foundation.
  12. ^ a b Darusuprapta (2003). Pedoman Penulisan Aksara Jawa. Yogyakarta: Yayasan Pustaka Nusantara.
  13. ^ Florida, Nancy K. (1995). Writing the Past, Inscribing the Future: History as Prophesy in Colonial Java. Duke University Press.
  14. ^ Pemerintahan Provinsi Jawa Tengah (2009). Peraturan Daerah no. 9 tahun 2012, mengenai bahasa, sastra, dan aksara Jawa.
  15. ^ Komisi Kesustraan Sriwedari (1926). . Surakarta
  16. ^ "ALA-LC Romanization Tables". Library of Congress. 2011. 
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Wihananto, R.S. (2011). Panduan Fonta Aksara Jawa Unicode.
  18. ^ From Das Buch der Schrift. Faulmann, Carl (1880).
  19. ^ a b c Raffles, Thomas Stamford (1817). History of Java. London
  20. ^ From History of Java. Raffles, Thomas Stamford (1817).
  21. ^ Ida Bagus Adi Sudewa (14 May 2003). "The Balinese Alphabet, v0.6". Yayasan Bali Galang. Retrieved 9 November 2013. 
  22. ^ Teguh Budi Sayoga (September 2004). "Hanacaraka". Retrieved 9 November 2013. 
  23. ^ Ki Demang Sokowanten (1 November 2009). "Adjisaka". Retrieved 9 November 2013. 
  24. ^ Jason Glavy (16 December 2006). "JG Aksara Jawa". Retrieved 9 November 2013. 
  25. ^ Pavkar Dukunov (Nov 25, 2011). "Carakan Anyar". Hanang Hundarko. Retrieved 9 November 2013. 
  26. ^ R.S. Wihananto. "Tuladha Jejeg, Javanese Unicode font". Retrieved 9 November 2013. 
  27. ^ Matthew Arciniega's page
  28. ^ AGFA Monotype: Javanese. Glyph repertoire
  29. ^ Aditya Bayu Perdana (1 September 2013). "Aturra, font for Javanese". Retrieved 9 November 2013. 
  30. ^ Google Noto Fonts - Noto Sans Javanese
  31. ^ Pitulung: Aksara Jawa

External links

  • Unicode Table of the Javanese script
  • Javanese at -- A guide to writing systems
  • Javanese at --- A compendium of world-wide writing system from prehistory to today
  • Page from Javanese WorldHeritage detailing web support for Javanese (in Indonesian, Javanese, and English)
  • Tuladha Jejeg. A Javanese Unicode font with SIL Graphite smart font technology
  • Javanese Script Transliterator using SIL Graphite smart font technology
  • Hanacaraka Font & Resources (in Indonesian)
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