via Histories, 29 August 2023 and Today, 01 October 2023: This paper, co-written by an 18-year-old scholar Lee I-Shiang, looks at the Singapore Stone’s inscriptions by drawing a comparative analysis with the inscriptions on the Calcutta Stone. The paper elucidates stylistic similarities between the inscriptions on both stones, aligning them more specifically to the 11th century Kawi script.
The Singapore Stone, discovered in 1819, was blown up in 1843 and remains an enigma today. Several studies have suggested the script to be Kawi, a Brahmic script used between the 8th and 16th centuries in Java and other parts of Southeast Asia. The language remains unknown but is thought to be Old Javanese, Sanskrit, or Tamil. There is great historical value in finding out what the script says, and it is the aim of this project to offer deeper insight into this undeciphered inscription. In this paper, an in-depth comparison of the Singapore Stone with the Calcutta Stone (1041 CE), a prominent example of a Later Kawi inscription, is performed. Brief comparisons of the Singapore Stone with other inscriptions are also conducted. Numerous characters on the Singapore Stone are matched to those on the Calcutta Stone. However, the Singapore Stone appears to have a much lower frequency of diacritics and clusters. Such a phenomenon is anomalous and could have hindered decryption efforts thus far. Nonetheless, an identification and comparison of such character signs are attempted. Overall, the two inscriptions are shown to share many stylistic similarities, suggesting that the Singapore Stone could be dated to the Later Kawi period.