The Khotanese script and language were used in the kingdom of Khotan in the south-west of present-day Xinjiang, China. The Khotanese people were of Iranian descent and spoke an Indo-Iranian language.
Khotan lay along the Silk Road and was the first place outside of China (as China’s borders lay at that time) to begin cultivating silk. It was also a centre for the study and practice of Mahayana Buddhism. As a result, many languages including Chinese, Sanskrit, Prakrit and Tibetan were spoken there. Sanskrit and Prakrit were written in Khotan in a northern form of the Brahmi script, called Gupta, from which the Khotanese script descended.
Khotanese is an abugida, similar in structure to Tibetan with which it shares common origins. Characters were made up of a base radical with one or more vowel marks appended to it to change the quality of the following vowel from the “default” or inherent /a/ to either /i/, /u/ or /e/.
This script is not currently recognized by the ISO 15924 standard, but is included in ScriptSource for research purposes. If you have any information on this script, please add the information to this site. Your contributions can be a great help in refining and expanding the ISO 15924 standard. The Script Encoding Initiative is working to support the inclusion of this script in the standard, and contributions here will support their efforts.