Tocharian is an extinct branch of the Indo-European language family which was spoken in oases on the northern edge of the Tarim Basin, an area which is now part of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China. Fragments of manuscripts and other writing in the Tocharian script dating from between the 6th and 8th centuries AD were discovered there in the early 20th century.
When the alphabet was deciphered, it was discovered that it represented two previously unknown languages which were dubbed Tocharian A, or East Tocharian, Agnean or Turfanian, and Tocharian B, or West Tocharian or Kuchean. Tocharian A appears more archaic and was used a liturgical language, while Tocharian B was spoken around Turfan and Tumshuq. The languages disappeared after Uyghur-speaking people settled in the area during the 9th century.
The Tocharian alphabet was derived from the Brahmi alphabet. It was written on palm, wooden tablets and Chinese paper, which were preserved in the dry climate of the Tarim Basin. Some inscriptions on mural have also been found.
Tocharian alphabet images provided by Lee Wilson
Information about the Tocharian language and alphabet
Images of Tocharian Manuscripts
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