Yezidi Alphabet: The Way to Unicode


  • Andrij Rovenchak Ivan Franko National University of Lviv, Ukraine
  • Dimitri Pirbari G. Tsereteli Institute of Oriental Studies of Ilia State University
  • Erdal Karaca Independent Researcher, Oldenburg, Germany


writing, Yezidis, Yezidi alphabet, diacritical marks, Unicode.


The Yezidi (Yazidi) script gained widespread recognition in 1911 when Anastase Marie Al-Karmali published two ancient manuscripts: Maṣḥaf Raš (Black Scroll) and Ktébī J̌alwe̱h (Book of Revelation). The exact time of their creation remains unclear. These manuscripts were written in an original consonantal alphabet comprising 33 letters. Despite its significance, this early Yezidi script version is inadequately documented within the literature on the history of writing. Furthermore, information regarding its prolonged usage gap – spanning between the aforementioned classical manuscripts and the early 2000s when attempts to revive the Yezidi script commenced – is rather scarce.

It is important to highlight that, for various reasons, the Yezidi clergy do not acknowledge the texts of Maṣḥaf Raš and Ktébī J̌alwe̱h as authentic sources of faith. Nevertheless, the script itself is recognized and has recently seen utilization among certain Yezidi groups.

A renewed version of the Yezidi script, constituting a full-fledged alphabet, was introduced in 2013 by representatives of the Yezidi community in Georgia. This new alphabet encompasses 42 characters, denoting both consonants and vowels. The classical consonantal alphabet was extended by certain modifications of the existing letters, in particular, by adding diacritical marks and changing some phonetic meanings. Alongside letters, we provide an extensive exploration of Yezidi writing’s characteristics, with particular emphasis on aspects such as numbers, punctuation, and diacritical marks within both classical and contemporary contexts. Throughout the article, we incorporate examples from classical manuscripts and modern instances of the Yezidi alphabet’s application, offering illustrative support to the text.

The article’s content is based on Unicode proposals prepared by the authors between 2018 and 2019. The insights garnered from interactions with the Unicode Technical Committee, as reflected in the article, grant readers an enhanced understanding of the intricacies surrounding the encoding of novel writing systems. Consequently, the Yezidi alphabet was integrated into the Unicode standard, version 13.0, released in March 2020.



How to Cite

Rovenchak, Andrij, Dimitri Pirbari, and Erdal Karaca. 2023. “Yezidi Alphabet: The Way to Unicode”. Free University Journal of Asian Studies, no. 5 (December). Tbilisi.