Naxi script IME

Whilst several Naxi pictograph IMEs are rumoured to either exist or be in the works, the only one that I actually know is finished is edongba or 电子东巴, from Lijiang’s very own ZMNSoft. Let me say it now: eDongba is awesome, albeit in a charmingly flawed kind of way. I presume the creator of the IME received a grant from the local authorities or the Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences, because the market for a Naxi script IME is hardly large.

All the Naxi characters on this site were typed up in eDongba, and then converted to picture format so that you can actually see them without having the software installed.


The software supports the input of both the Naxi pictographic script and the phonetic Geba script. The pictographs are inputted via typing English/Chinese or Naxi pinyin, then selecting your desired character.

The pictographs and geba syllabary used in eDongba seem to be taken entirely from Fang Guoyu’s dictionary. The program is not unicode and you therefore need to have the ‘dongba&geba’ truetype font selected to be able to use the input system.

The english version features some fairly crazy English translations, which can lead to some odd guessing games when trying to find the right word, and it uses a corrupted form of Naxi pinyin, not ipa, for its Naxi input, but its major redeeming feature is that each character has its own pronunciation sound file that plays whenever you input the character.

This is excellent to help in learning pronunciation, as you can just keep typing the same character again and again until you’ve got the pronunciation down pat. Anyone serious about studing Naxi should get this software, or at least give the trial version a go.

It’s not free (hint: the Chinese version is cheaper at 68 RMB but if you live abroad, guess what, you have to buy the English version, priced at a whopping $50), but you do get a trial run of some 10 uses with the download. Also be aware that English versions of Windows will only run the English version of eDongba, and vice versa for the Chinese version.