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
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
By the 17th Century, the Javanese alphabet had developed into its
Since the 19th Century, when the Dutch introduced the Latin
alphabet to Indonesia, the Javanese alphabet has gradually been
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.
- 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
- 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but has been replaced by the Latin alphabet.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 murda consonants
Subscript aksara murda consonants
Vowels, vowel diacritics and final consonant diacritics
The Javanese font used on this page was created by Jason Glavy (firstname.lastname@example.org)
and is available from: http://www.geocities.com/jglavy/asian.html
Further details of the Javanese alphabet