2024 Award Winners

Exploring the endeavors of artists, publishers, and educators dedicated to the revival and safeguarding of minority scripts worldwide.

Almost everyone who is working on saving or reviving their writing system is doing so with no fanfare, recognition or reward. Their efforts are generally completely unknown to the world at large, and those around them likely give them little encouragement, and certainly no funding--in fact, they may oppose these superhuman efforts.

Starting with this first edition of World Endangered Writing Day, we would like to recognize a few of these valiant souls. We can't give them funding either, but we can give them recognition and encouragement. If you know of other people or organizations who are doing valuable work to revive their traditional scripts or promote new ones for their community, please contact as at so we can recognize them. Publishing in an Indigenous/Minority ScriptInhabit Media, NunavutInhabit Media Inc. is the first Inuit-owned, independent publishing company in the Canadian Arctic. We aim to promote and preserve the stories, knowledge, and talent of the Arctic, and to bring Arctic stories and wisdom to the world!  

Publishing in an Indigenous/Minority Script

Inhabit Media, Nunavut

Inhabit Media Inc. is the first Inuit-owned, independent publishing company in the Canadian Arctic. We aim to promote and preserve the stories, knowledge, and talent of the Arctic, and to bring Arctic stories and wisdom to the world!

Calligraphy in an Indigenous or Minority Script

Tamir Purev

Tamir Samandbadraa Purev is an award-winning artist who dedicated his life to Mongolian calligraphy, from the 2000s presenting, developing, and teaching his art in numerous countries in Europe and Asia. He works mainly on paper with ink or on ceramic and porcelain. A non-profit organization “L’Ecrin” or “Erdenesiin Khuree”, founded by Tamir in 2018, with its Center located in Kharkhorin, the ancient capital of Mongolia, works in order to preserve the traditional script and Mongolian calligraphy, which has been declared by UNESCO an intangible cultural heritage in need of urgent safeguarding.

Teaching/Reviving Traditional Scripts

Callijatra, Kathmandu, Nepal

Callijatra is a youth group of Calligraphers from Nepal preserving and promoting Nepal Scripts - Ranjana script, Nepal Lipi (Prachalit) and Devanagari through workshops and other communication forms which includes mobile apps, web apps, video tutorials, live calligraphy, exhibits, etc. “Callijatra” means “The festival of calligraphy”. Callijatra was started in 2017.

From the various workshops we have done across Nepal and internationally, we have found one constant —  the joy in people’s face in learning to write again.

Our future plans are to continue our workshops and also to move into language teaching avenues. Our hope is a mainstream appreciation and adoption of various indigenous scripts and languages that are now on the verge of endangerment in Nepal. Our work has also become advocacy in some aspects as schools have begun offering Ranjana Script classes and even government bodies have taken an interest in Nepal bhasa preservation and instruction in schools. This interest and renewed focus makes us believe our work is organically bringing substantial impact.

We don’t know if Callijatra’s work is revolutionary but it definitely has brought renewed interest in Ranjana and Nepal Lipi both as a script and as an art form.

Writing About Script Endangerment and/or Revival

Michael Raymon M. Pangilinan, Kulitan: An Introduction to Kulitan, the indigenous Kapampangan script, Sínúpan Singsing Publishing.

Like many of the scripts in Southeast Asia, the indigenous Kapampangan script has always been veiled in folklore, mysticism and taboos. For a long time, Súlat Kapampángan or Kulitan has been used by mystics and spiritual healers in their various rituals, especially in creating charms and talismans and in communicating with the ancestral spirits.

Letters and petitions were written and burnt as a form of communication with the spirits of dead heroes and ancestors. Curses were also written in Kulitan, believing that they would acquire more potency if read and possessed or carried out by an ancestral spirit. A certain gravity and seriousness has therefore been attached to them, preventing the writer from trying to use them for communicating trivial mundane matters. One of the most enduring taboos in Kulitan is in using them to write foreign words or names. Another taboo is in teaching them to foreigners. It was for this reason that the majority of the Kapampangan people cannot read and write it despite the fact that the script has existed among them.

The cult of Ápûng Sínukuan and the practice of using the indigenous scripts to write talismans and commune with the ancestral spirits were said to be a part of the rituals of the various mystic cults that became popular among Kapampangan peasants in the 1880s, a decade or so before the founding of the Katipunan in Tondo in 1896. These cults were most prolific among the peasant communities that surrounded the Pinak

(Candaba Swamp) and Bunduk Aláya (Mount Arayat). The Katipunan flag with the white noon day sun of Ápûng Sínukuan or Bayang “The Destroyer” superimposed with the indigenous script “KA” on the blood red background of Ápûng Maliári “The Life Giver” is said to be a powerful talisman in Kapampangan mysticism. The Kapampangan revolutionary mystics who joined the ranks of the Katipunan might have injected some of their indigenous knowledge into the movement.

According to Akademyang Kapampangan folklore, it was the Katipunan mystic and playwright Aurelio Tolentino of Wáwâ [Guagua], the old economic capital of the province of Pampanga, who sought to revive the cult of Ápûng Sínukuan and the pre-colonial civilization of the Kapampangan and Tagalog nations that included the writing systems of Kulitan and Baybayin.Mike Pangilinan is a culture bearer and activist from the Kapampángan Nation, fighting for his people's right to self-determination.

To get a signed copy of the book, please contact Joy L Cruz thru Facebook messenger or text 09166136703. The book will then be sent through Lalamove o LBC or at designated pick-up points within Ángeles City;The book is also sold within Ángeles City at: 1) Sinupan Singsing office; 2) Museo ning Angeles; 3) El Kabayo Coffee at Clark; 4) Binî at Nepo Quad; 5) Binî at Clark Cityfront Mall, 6) Delyn's Pasalubong  at Villa Angelina, and 7) Wear Kapampángan at Marquee Mall and at 8 ) INDÛ at Bart Mall across Holy Angel University.

For those living in other parts of the country, my book is available via Shoppee:

For international orders, you can do so via Amazon:.

Creating New Scripts for Indigenous/Minority Languages

Prasanna Sree

A professor of English at Andhra University, Prasanna Sree has devoted her life to creating scripts for Adavasi peoples in Eastern India. As of 2023 she has invented 19, in each case basing all the letterforms of a particular script around an iconic shape familiar to and representative of the culture, its history and identity.

Roving Traditional Script Ambassador

Kristian Kabuay, a performance artist who has spent more than a decade promoting the Baybayin script of the Philippines through art, performance, graffiti, tattooing, and clothing design.

Government support for an Indigenous/Minority Script

In many countries, alas, the most powerful enemy of an indigenous script is in fact that national government, which would prefer to ignore its responsibilities to its minorities or to actively suppress them by denying their script official status.

Perhaps the most significant exception is the government of Morocco, which created the Institut Royal de la Culture Amazighe (IRCAM) whose website has the tagline "La Promotion de l'Amazighe est une Responsabilité Nationale." For over two decades, IRCAM has pursued a comprehensive approach that recognizes the profound interrelationship between a culture, its language, its history and its script.

Reviving a minority script (here a misnomer, as the Amazigh actually constitute a majority in Morocco) is far more than a linguistic endeavor--it involves reviving the status, the fortune, the self-respect and dignity of an entire sector of the population, making them viable, visible, even vocal.

Ten years before Amazigh became an official language in Morocco, IRCAM was tasked with researching and promoting Amazigh language and culture in seven areas: linguistics, didactics, translation, arts and literature, computer sciences, history and the environment, and sociology and anthropology.

In the process, IRCAM has published innovative little classroom books that not only teach the Tifinagh script but which are color-coded to represent the variations in the Amazigh family of languages throughout the country.

The process of reversing centuries of marginalization of the Amazigh will, of course, take decades, at least, but we salute the initiative that has dedicated the infrastructure and the funding to set that process in motion.

Handwriting in an Indigenous/Minority Script

Muhammad Saad Ahmed

Muhammad Saad Ahmed practices calligraphy in what must surely be a record number of different scripts: 342. Though he adds, modestly, he is fluent in only 86. Oh, and did I mention he’s only an undergraduate, at the University of Dhaka in Bangladesh?

He writes:

“My name is Saad. I was born on 12 July 2002 in Faridpur city of Bangladesh. My father is a teacher and my mother is a housewife. I’m a student of History of Art. I am very interested in different scripts. When I was little, I became interested in foreign scripts after seeing the Chinese written on the packaging of a Chinese company’s electronics. Due to my interest, many people helped me with different foreign books so that I could learn from those books. Now I can read and write many scripts include Egyptian hieroglyphics.”

He is quick to point out that he doesn’t speak all those languages—in fact, he sources his scripts from Simon Ager’s website, so some are extinct, and some are conscripts. (Research for the Endangered Alphabets’ Red List Project estimates there are some 275 scripts currently in use in the world.)

But he can write their characters, and he can do so with the aesthetic commitment one would expect from a student of the history of art—not to mention a young man whose grandfather was a professional calligrapher for the British Raj.

Back in the day—his grandfather’s day, for example–people used to say “He/she has a beautiful hand,” meaning the writer had beautiful handwriting.

Muhammad Saad Ahmed, who may be a world record holder, has that increasingly rare skill, a beautiful hand.

Honorable mention goes to Zafry Hadi for his wonderful work creating new fonts based on old scripts, especially the early Brahmic and Pallava scripts, found on monuments and in inscriptions. See his work here.

Another honorable mention goes to the organization Aksara di Nusantara for their work designing and promoting traditional scripts of Indonesia. They declined to be honored, on the basis that theirs in a collective effort—so they deserve collective credit and recognition.

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