Originating in the province of Sindh, Khojki belongs to the category of Landa or clipped scripts, which employ alphabets and vowel systems similar to other Indian mercantile scripts and the learned Nagari norms. According to Ismaili tradition, the da‘i Pir Sadruddin was responsible for devising the Khojki script as a vehicle for preserving the community’s sacred literature.
The Khojki materials that have survived are considerable, consisting of several hundred manuscripts, the vast majority of which contain ginan literature (the term ginan is believed to derive from the Sanskrit jnan or ‘knowledge’). The ginans are a vast corpus consisting of several hundred hymns or religious lyrics which have been a central part of religious life of the Nizari Ismaili Community in the Indian Subcontinent. They are attributed to Pirs and Sayyids, and were most likely composed from the 12th century CE onwards. These texts are written in multiple languages, including Sindhi, Punjabi, Gujarati, Urdu-Hindi, Arabic and Persian. All of these, however, were transcribed using the Khojki script.
The collection at the Institute of Ismaili Studies is one of the largest collections of Khojki manuscripts in the world, of which approximately a quarter have been catalogued. Material evidence suggests that the tradition of copying can be traced back to several centuries earlier than the surviving manuscripts, which predominantly date from the 18th century CE onwards. Generally the date of copying a manuscript is provided in Samvat era (S). Hijri (AH) and Common Era (CE) dates also appear in later manuscripts.
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