Of Rekha by K.C. Aryan

The year was 2008, and I was in my first semester of research on Devanagari typefaces and typography. Sorely disheartened by the lack of any resources in the college library, I set off to all the libraries in Delhi, looking for something that would help.

One afternoon I visited the library at the National Gallery of Modern Art with @ravishamall, and that is where after a lot of unsuccessful scouring, I found a book called Rekha (English Translation: Line). The book was a Lalit Kala Akademi publication, and had been written by master modern painter and sculptor, art historian, and pioneer collector of folk and tribal arts, K. C. Aryan.

Beyond the basic history of Devanagari, and description of the Boru pen, the book had a large collection of lettering. Whether K.C. Aryan did these himself, the book did not say. I remember having a very hard time to convince the librarian to photocopy some pages of the book for me. Even though he grudgingly did so in the end, he did a terrible job with few of them.

The "ba" and "bha" in this style are so unique, if also a tad illegible.

I simply adore the awkward proportions of these letters. Also note the older letterforms for "a" and "dna"

The "a" and "chha" in this set are gorgeous.

Following these was a collection of symbolic/expressive lettering. Here are a few of my favorites:

Left: Kampan (English Translation: Tremor); Right: Patjhad (English Translation: Autumn)

Madhushala (English Translation: Tavern)

Chingari (English Translation): I'll admit it took me a little while to decipher the letters, but once I had, I simply could not get over it!

What made me look at this book all over again today — I was trying to get my gray cells warmed up to write an abstract for next years Typography Day, being held at National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. Of course, what I ended up doing was posting these images here. Time now to shake off this (longish) blogging break and get back to business!

Comments 3

  1. Satwik Gade September 18, 2010

    Nice article! I simply love Chingari! Screw the illegibility! Such beautiful things should be kept hidden from the eyes of the less observant! What I wanted to say was, I think the English translation of kampan might be tremors or shivers as opposed to vibrations. Just check.

  2. Pingback: First Steps « Its a Nerd's Life!

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