There are alternative glyphs for Devanagari numerals ५ (5), ८ (8) and ९ (9)[1], that look like cursive "y", ८ with upper horizontal bar, and mirrored "3", respectively.[2] These are sometimes called Hindi[3] or Calcutta[4] forms, while the "default"[1] ones called Bombay forms; sometimes all the variants use the same glyph for "9", and the "mirrored 3" form is considered Nepali.[4]

Image of the different variants (via [2])

The alternative glyphs are not resolved into different Unicode characters. So can they be considered an analogy to "a" or "g" typographic variants? Or are some variants used and understood more preferably or exclusively in some (which) regions or contexts? Is there any good "open access" source explaining this phenomenon?

[1] note: I assume the (default) glyphs in this text are those presented in common Unicode fonts, like Google Noto, i.e. "Bombay" forms.
[2] Scriptsource: Alternate digits in Devanagari
[3] H. M. Lambert: Introduction To The Devanagari script, p.32 (PDF)
[4] Devanagari for TeX, version 2.17 (manual), p.21 (PDF)

  • 2
    I was momentarily confused because my default fonts have the variant 5 and 8. Adding an image might help. (ETA: I forgot, I can just do that now!) – Draconis Jan 25 '17 at 19:47
  • For 5 and 8 they are just style variants and for nine, the standard is used universally and formally while the alternate is used in just some regions where it is prevalent for decades now. – WiccanKarnak Oct 11 '17 at 4:34

They are regional variants:

enter image description here


I have a feeling that these are regional. I've only ever used and read the standard "Bombay" forms (I'm actually from Delhi though).

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