Omniglot - a guide to writing systems
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Javanese alphabet   Javanese

The Javanese alphabet, also known as tjarakan or carakan, was ultimately derived from Brahmi alphabet, by way of the Kawi or Old Javanese alphabet.

The earliest known writing in Javanese dates from the 4th Century AD, at which time Javanese was written with the Pallava alphabet, a variety of the Devanagari alphabet. By the 10th Century, the Kawi alphabet, which developed from the Pallava alphabet, had a distinct Javanese form.

For a period from the 15th Century onwards, Javanese was also written with a version of the Arabic alphabet, called pégon or gundil.

By the 17th Century, the Javanese alphabet had developed into its current form.

Since the 19th Century, when the Dutch introduced the Latin alphabet to Indonesia, the Javanese alphabet has gradually been supplanted.

During the Japanese occupation of Indonesia between 1942 and 1945, the Javanese alphabet was prohibited. Today the alphabet is used almost exclusively by scholars and for decoration. Those who can read and write it are held in high esteem.

Notable features

  • Javanese is a syllabic alphabet - each letter has an inherent vowel /a/. Other vowels can be indicated using a variety of diacritics which appear above, below, in front of or after the main letter.

  • Each consonants has two forms: the aksara form is used at the beginning of a syllable, while the pasangan form, which usually appears below the aksara form, is used for the second consonant of a consonant cluster and mutes the vowel of the aksara.

  • There are a number of special letters called aksara murda or aksara gedhe (great or important letters) which are used for honorific purposes, such as to write the names of respected people.

  • The order of the consonants makes the following saying, "Hana caraka, data sawala padha jayanya, maga bathanga" which means "There were (two) emissaries, they began to fight, their valor was equal, they both fell dead"

Used to write:
Javanese, an austronesian language spoken by about 75 million people in Indonesia and Suriname.

The Javanese alphabet was also used to write Balinese and Sundanese, but has been replaced by the Latin alphabet.

Aksara consonants


Pasangan consonants

Capital consonants

Aksara murda consonants

Capital consonants

Subscript aksara murda consonants

Capital consonants

Vowels, vowel diacritics and final consonant diacritics


Javanese punctuation


Javanese numerals

Javanese sample text

The Javanese font used on this page was created by Jason Glavy ( and is available from:

Further details of the Javanese alphabet

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