|Languages||Various forms of Tamil and Malayalam|
|Malayalam, Grantha, Kolezhuthu, Malayanma|
Vaṭṭeḻuttu, also spelled Vattezhutthu (literally "Round Script", Tamil: வட்டெழுத்து, vaṭṭeḻuttu; Malayalam: വട്ടെഴുത്ത് vaṭṭeḻuttŭ) was an abugida writing system in South India and Sri Lanka that emerged from the Tamil Brahmi script. It is marked by rounded alphabet letters and cursive appearance, and the earliest forms of this script are traceable on memorial stone inscriptions of the 4th-century CE. The script had fully developed and was in broader use to write the Tamil language by about the 6th-century. By about the 7th- and 8th-century, under the Pallava rulers, a more developed and distintive Tamil script replaced it in what is now Tamil Nadu. Vatteluttu continued to be used in region that is now Kerala till about the 14th-century, and over time it contributed to the evolution of the Grantha script into the modern Malayalam script.
The 19th-century language scholar Arthur Coke Burnell, relying on two Vatteluttu script inscriptions, had proposed that Vatteluttu did not originate from Tamil Brahmi, and was possibly borrowed by Tamils from another foreign land. As numerous more inscriptions and manuscripts in Kerala and Tamil Nadu were discovered, scholars such as Iravatham Mahadevan have proven the Burnell hypothesis to be incorrect, and shown how Vatteluttu emerged and evolved from Tamil Brahmi.
Vatteluttu script is read left to right, as with almost all Indic scripts. Like the Tamil script, it omits the virama muting device. Vatteluttu was particularly prominent during the Kodungallur Cheras rule (from 9th century) and their successor-states in Kerala. Chera era copper plate grants, stone inscriptions and memorial epigraphy are composed mostly in Vatteluttu. After the Kodungallur Chera period (12th century) the Vatteluttu went on evolving and gradually developed into Kolezhuthu in Kerala, according to Burnell. Some of the historic immigration rights and land grants to Syrian Christians and Jewish traders by Hindu kings of Chera dynasty were recorded in Vatteluttu script on copper plates.
The following image shows the divergent evolution of the Tamil script and the Vatteluttu script. The Vatteluttu script is shown on the left, and the Tamil script is shown on the right.
Here are the characters used in Vatteluttu:
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