Lore Sander, Remarks on the Formal Brāhmī Script from the Southern Silk Route

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Early Turkestan Brāhmī, Type 2.1 "round ductus" (alphabet s) IOL Khot 4/1 (D.iii.7). Samghātasūtra, fol. 8 recto.



Brāhmī became the standard script in the kingdom of Khotan comparatively late, likely not before the 4th to 5th century C.E. Before its introduction the Southern Silk Route was dominated by Kharoshthī, which was introduced from modern Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Brāhmī of early, only recently published fragments in Tokharian B (likely 3rd to 4th century C.E.) show a close similarity to the script of early Khotanese documents, which suggests that the Brāhmī was introduced into Khotan from the Northern Route. Two varieties of Brāhmī were in use in Khotan, a cursive and a formal variety, which can be distinguished by different shapes of certain letters. The formal script is comparably uniform. It develops only gradually from approximately the 5th to the 10th century. Even though the shape of the letters does not change much in time, there are other criteria, as the ductus and the preference for certain variants in certain periods, which indicate a development, which likely corresponds to the development of the language from Old to Late Khotanese.