Chronogram calculator for Arabic, Persian and Urdu

    (۲۰۱۴)   مجھ کو تاریخ کے حساب سے نجات ملی، واہ واہ

Please enter a chronogram:

Letters marked with tashdīd should be counted:


The chronogram gives a date in:

The Hijri calendar
The Gregorian calendar

This chronogram calculator was developed with David Boyk. For help writing in the Urdu script, see resources on computing or use Google's input tool


What is a Chronogram?

Along with a phonetic value, each letter of the Arabic alphabet (ajbad) is also associated with a numerical value.  By adding together the value of the letters in a given word or phrase, one may arrive at its numeric equivalent. Perhaps the most well-known example is the number 786, which is equivalent to the phrase ‘bismillāh ar-raḥmān ar-raḥīm.’ This system can be used to create chronograms (tārīkh, pl. tavārīkh), phrases that mark the date of the event to which they refer. One of South Asia’s most famous chronograms gives the year of the death of Humayun, who perished as he descended the steps of his library:

Humāyūn Pādshāh az bām uftād  (ھمایون پادشاہ از بام افتاد) = h962

 In Persian and Urdu, letters that do not exist in Arabic are assigned the value of the letter to which it most closely corresponds (pe = be, ṭe = te, and so on.) Tashdīd, which doubles the sound-value of a letter, also double the numeric value of that letter (though sometimes not - use the tashdīd toggle to see both results).

Chronograms have long been popular in South Asia, and a recent paper on the subject has demonstrated that the art of chronogram composition remains alive and well.  If you are interested in learning more about the history of the abjad system or wish to see more chronograms in action, there are a number of resources available. Frances Pritchett maintains an instructive page with more detailed information and many more chronograms. Mehr Afshan Farooqi’s article on the subject is definitive, and contains a number of other references for further study, including the entry on abjad in the Farhang-i Asafiyya. A recent article in Dawn introduces the reader to Hamid Hasan Qadiri, a prolific chronogram writer of the 20th century who is further introduced with several delightful chronograms in Khalid Hasan Qadiri's 'The art of the Urdu Chronogram.'


Notes on using the calculator

1) While the system for assigning value to letters has largely been standardized across India and Iran, there is still plenty of variation. For this reason, the calculated value offered above should not be taken as absolute. 2) Moreover, while most chronograms give a date in hijri or CE, they are also occasionally written to give dates in a variety of other calendars, such as the faṣlī and the Bikramī. 3) Many chronograms contain instructions for their calculation, asking the reader to add or subtract a certain value. Our calculator is not yet fluent enough in Urdu to know when to make these additional calculations. 4) The calculator is also potentially of use in working to create your own chronograms (more) easily. 5) Though we have tested the calculator out on a vast number of chronograms, there remains the possibility for error. It has also been optimized for Urdu, meaning that using certain Persian input systems may result in an incomplete result. If you think you have detected an error, please let us know