Thursday, March 27, 2008

Strange Devanagari conjuncts

I don't have enough knowledge of Hindi or Sanskrit to be able to explain all of these strange conjunct forms, but they sure are interesting to look at!! "CallingTo", a flickr user, has uploaded a bunch of scans of strange letterforms. Check them out! I should probably hunt this fellow down to learn more!

And if anyone can make it, in a few hours, you should check out Typography Day 2008. I'm on the wrong continent. ... er... sub-continent? Also, if anyone wants to take over my job, but split my salary so that I can do this full-time, let me know. Thanks!


John Hudson said...

I recognise this quite strange Devanagari typeface. It is used in Anton Boller's _Ausfürliche Sanskrit-Grammatik für den öffentlichen und Selbstunterricht_ published in Vienna in 1847. Unfortunately, I don't yet know who created and cast the type, but suspect the librarian at St Bride's in London might be able to tell me.

The conjunct shown here is a form which I don't recall seeing in any more recent types. It is the conjunct फ्त्र 'phtra'.

John Hudson said...

Whoops! Not 'phtra', actually क्त्र 'ktra'. The shape on the right side threw me a bit, I think, because it looks like an inverted version of the shape seen on the left side of फ 'pha'. [Acknowledgement to Fiona Ross for spotting this mistake.]

Erin said...

Wow!!! I am speechless! I can't believe you (and Fiona!!) could recognize the conjunct, let alone know the typeface!! Wow, now where does one acquire such a keen eye for Hindi type? My goodness.

Anyway, YES I finally do see the 'ktra' in it - I'm just used to seeing the horizontal line touching the top of the "ta" part on the left side - or seeing the curve so low!

Wow - this also makes me realize how confused I am about type terminology when it comes to non-latin forms! SIGH!

Anyway, thanks again!

AC said...

If you could put the whole word, I am sure I will be able to read it.

Anonymous said...

nice post. I would love to follow you on twitter.

Satya Rajpurohit said...

Not sure if it's the same but I remember seeing this typeface in one of the specimens at St Bride Library.

bhuveh said...

That's an older version of 'अ'.
If you care. Now, I mean.

R. Sivaramakrishna Sharma said...

As previously said it is the ktra conjunct. Besides this is the circa 1790 German punched typeface, which can be found exclusively on almost all books 'printed' prior to 1850 by English presses. Infact this would be what is today known as the Gudakesha family of typefaces. After Circa 1850 or probably 1858 another typeface appeared with a distinctive Bengalish style because the type was punched(again by a German punch-cutter) based on calligraphy/samples which were done by a artist in Calcutta. This form was used since then up until the late 40s. But the standard Devanagari we see all over now and the mother of most standard typesets was punched by one unknown punch cutter and was used for over a 100 years by Nirnaya Sagara Press and then by Venkateshwar Press and Chaukhamba Press and then most other presses till the advent of the offset.

Almost all typesets today (the non-fancy ones) are (loosely) based on the Nirnaya Sagara set. Besides it was also (mostly) instrumental in phasing out the (now) archaic forms of certain characters.