The Ariyaka alphabet was invented by King Mongkut Rama IV of Siam (1804-1868) as an alternative alphabet for Pali. He considered the Khmer alphabet, which was commonly used to write Pali, to be too complicated and decided to create an alphabet that was easier to use and more Western in appearance.
The King devised printed and handwritten versions of the alphabet, and because printing was not widespread at the time and missionaries controlled the printing houses, he set up his own printing house and published a number of books in Pali using the Ariyaka alphabet.
When corresponding with Buddhist monks in other countries, especially Sri Lanka, the King wrote in Pali in the Ariyaka alphabet, and also in the Latin and Khmer alphabets. Some of the Sri Lankan monks wrote back using the Ariyaka alphabet. He hoped that his alphabet would be come the standard alphabet for Pali.
An Ariyaka Pali letter sent from Sri Lanka to Thailand
Ye dhammā hetuppabhavā tesaṁ tathāgatao
hetuṁ āha tesañcha yo nirodho ca evaṁ
Text from the National Library in Chiangmai, Thailand and provided by Ian James
Download a font for Ariyaka (TrueType, 75K) - font created by Ian Jamaes.
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