Here’s some mysterious writing from a napkin ring.

Mysterious writing from napkin ring

Can any of you identify the script or decipher it?

This writing comes from a puzzle that appeared in the Puzzle Museum in 2005 and since then no-one has been able to identify the script or decipher it.

Some of the letters look like Thai or Lao, while others look like Tagalog to me.

The person who sent in the puzzle thinks the writing might be in a magical alphabet like the ones here.

11 thoughts on “Puzzle

  1. At first blush, it makes me think of the Georgian alphabet, though of couse that doesn’t match all the letters either.

  2. In fact the shape of the letters makes me think of a writing direction from right to left like any semitic language. It could be however that it has no significance in the real world, and might be as the medieval manuscript in that page tells, some writing system for some magical purposes or practices.

    However, there are some shapes that somehow look Hebraic, but not completely.

  3. The napkin ring has a magic square on it of rank 3. It’s a reflection of the traditional square used for the planet Saturn, so perhaps the inscription is also mirroed.

  4. Is it on the inside of the napkin ring, or the outside? If outside, perhaps you roll it on clay (etc.) and read the result upside down…

  5. The letters do look like non-formal Hebrew (ie: like hand-written form); beyond that, I can’t say. It might be in one of the non-Hebraic Jewish languages, like Yiddish or Ladino.


  6. A few Thai characters can be interpreted if you try really hard (ญ ว อ บ พ ง, etc) but I’m sure it isn’t the Thai, Lao, or Khmer script…

  7. Quite a few of the characters look like the old Kawi script to me, the old Javanese script from which modern Javanese, balinese, Sundanese and Old Sumatran scripts developed. In Kawi, the characters would read:

    śa h? ? ya pa nga ? (sa?) (nga?) (ha?) ke

    or if rotated upside down, it could read:

    yo ya ta (ṣa?) da nga ga ka (u?) hi ma(/ṣa?)

    …but it could be something entirely different, and I have no idea if either possible transcription comes close to meaning anything in Old Javanese or Old Malay or any other related language…

  8. @Dennis: yes I remember this image. It was in the puzzles page in this site. The thing that I did not know before is that the stone itself had Ogham inscriptions on its edge! It is found in Scotland wasn’t it?
    Maybe I’m a bit giving a long shot here, but could it be an early form of “pictish” ? Did the Pictish people ever have a writing system? Or, how about linking these shapes to the early celtiberian shapes?

  9. Hi, I am the fellow that passed this along to Omniglot.My impressions on the item are that this picture may be upside down, also if you look at the points on the ends of characters that it may be written right to left (in the orientation of the actual photo. Among the alphabets given in the page with the magical alphabets it seems to have much in common with the Armenian and the alphet bet just below it. ON the other hand I agree that it gives the vibe of thai. One interesting clue is despite there being more than 12 characters, none of them seem to repeat. There seem to be three or four diacritic / punctuations / tone marks?
    Oddly enough if you look at the Fraser alphabet and you do it in a ‘cursive style’ it has a spooky similarity to the inscription on the ring.
    It may be a mirror script. I agree that it has a reflection of the saturn Kamea (number square). It is featured with photos over at puzzle museum.

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