Musket inscription puzzle

Here is a mysterious inscription on a musket that was posted on the Omniglot fan club recently:

Mysterious musket inscription

See a larger version of this image.

The person who sent this in the asked me to post the image here with this analysis from Christopher Ray Miller:

I think this is more likely in the Kaithi script, which is closely related to modern Gujarati script, both being descended from informal styles of writing Nāgarī (before it gained the “Deva-” prefix). Although in most 19th and 20th century examples of Kaithi, the ‹l› letter looks more or less like a cursive Greek Theta, there are a few examples of it with the same ‘C-I’ shape as Gujarati that we see herein the second and fourth positions from the end.

What makes me think this is probably Kaithi is the ‹v› just below the right end of the metallic attachment on the top of the gun. It is the same basic shape as ‹w› in Gujarati and Devanagari, but has a small circle below it, which corresponds to the dot/nuqta diacritic for ‹v› in Kaithi, the only thing distinguishing it from ‹b›. (The two letters merged because in most languages of northeastern India, the older distinct /v/ and /b/ phonemes merged into /b/, just like in Spanish, for example.

The letter just above the second ’0′ and above and to the left of the ’9′ shape (probably the numeral ’1′) seems to be an early version of ‹j›, more similar to the old Nāgarī shape than the 19th-20th century Kaithi shape, which is like a ‘S’ rotated 90º. The letter just to the right of the putative ‹j› looks very much to be the Kaithi ‹a› letter.

I imagine this is in one of the languages of northeastern India that commonly used Kaithi script, e.g. Bhojpuri, Maithili, Awadhi and others.

Can anybody translate the inscription and/or add anything to this?

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This entry was posted in Language, Puzzles, Writing.

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