A distinctive Khojki letter for qa?

Posted on Sat 12 October 2013 in unicode

The following excerpt from a printed Khojki book contains two forms of ka. The ka highlighted in blue is the representative glyph of U+11208 KHOJKI LETTER KA (to be published in Unicode 7), while the red ka is the alternate form.


Here, the red ka is used in the word kalām, while the blue ka is used in the word kalāṃm, both are representations of the Arabic word کلام kalām “composition, work”; the anusvāra in kalāṃm is not semantically significant.

The alternate form is used in other sources for representing ka, suggesting that the red ka is a glyphic variant:


However, it also appears in other source, where it is used for representing qa (the Arabic ق qāf), suggesting that it may indeed be a distinctive letter, a possible *KHOJKI LETTER QA:


I have not yet seen this work, so I do not know the context in which the letter is used for qāf.

The shape of KHOJKI LETTER KA is fairly uniform across printed materials and manuscripts. It is of interest that both forms occur in the same document, as shown in the first image, and in such close proximity. The excerpt is from a printed book and is likely a faithful reproduction of a manuscript. Analysis of several manuscript sources is necessary in order to determine whether the red ka is a glyphic variant of KA or a distinct Khojki letter QA.