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AbstractMaithili is a writing system that is associated with a distinct linguistic community and a historically important Sanskritic scholarly tradition. It is a script that despite being nearly obsolete, has been preserved and has received renewed attention through revival efforts. An encoding for Maithili, therefore, may be viewed by its users as a means for preserving not only the script and the materials written in it, but also as the preservation of a cultural identity associated with the Maithili language and script. While such a perspective is certainly positive, the preservation of linguistic identity is not a directive of the UCS. The representation of scripts in the UCS is driven not by socio-cultural factors, but by the typological features and technical requirements of a writing system and by the design principles of character encoding. The primary issue facing the representation of Maithili in the UCS is its close affinity to the Bengali script. Maithili has several characters that are similar or identical to those already encoded for Bengali. However, the two scripts also differ in terms of character repertoires, glyph shapes, orthographic features, and rendering behaviors. The correspondences between the characters of Maithili and Bengali requires that a method for representing Maithili be established, which meets the requirements of the user community, while adhering to the design principles that govern the structure of Unicode. With regard to the encoding of Maithili, the most salient of the Unicode design principles is ‘plain text’.