Mysterious inscription

This photo was sent in by a visitor to Omniglot who would like to find out what the writing means.

Mysterious inscription on vase

To me it looks like Devanagari or a related script.

Can you decipher this?

3 thoughts on “Mysterious inscription

  1. Yes, it’s Devanagari and seems (though I may be wrong) to be a misspelling of the name Radhakrishna:

    राधाकृशण = Rādhākṛśṇ

    I would have thought the name should be spelled with the letter ष for retroflex /ṣ/:

    राधाकृषण = Rādhākṛṣṇ

    The final letter for the retroflex /ṇ/ sound may look different in the onscreen font. The three vertical lines that form the last letter in the inscription (the first longer than the last two and bending down slightly to the right at the bottom) is the older, “classical” or “northern” version; the more modern, “southern” version combines the first two into a test-tube-like shape hanging from the headstroke, followed by the final stem.

  2. To add to my previous comment, the spelling mistake is probably due to the fact that in many modern Indo-Aryan languages, the distinction between the three sibilants of Sanskrit (each with its own letter) has been lost or changed: either two or all three have merged or the retroflex has changed into the velar fricative /x/, as in some languages of Bihar. According to the Omniglot page on Hindi and the Wikipedia page on Hindi phonology, it seems the retroflex and palato-alveolar sibilants have merged to /ʃ/, meaning this sound corresponds to two letters, श and ष. Hence the spelling mistake.

    The spelling also differs from standard Sanskrit spelling, which would use a conjunct form for श, deleting the stem on the right, before the final ण. This reflects traditional Hindi spelling, where conjuncts were rarely used because of the language’s syllable structure.

  3. Christopher Miller and you both are right-it’s Deevanaagari, used to write Hindi, Sanskrit, Konkani, Romani and some else Indic languages.

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