I have been seeing some wonderful images and resources for Bengali typography the past few days. The first of these is the blog of Rarh Studio, a design collective based in Shantiniketan, West Bengal.
The blog, called Rarh Design Magazine, documents folk and commercial design traditions from Bengal. Not only does the blog have a wonderful collection of images, it has commentary along with them to give them context, as well a part-wise history of Bengali type (only Part I of which is online right now). This first part tells the story of Charles Wilkins, a civil servant of the East India Company, who was given the responsibility of designing and creating Bengali movable type in collaboration with native smith Panchanan Karmakar by the then Governor-General of India, Warren Hastings in 1777. I’m taking the liberty of sharing an image of Wilkins’ letters from the article [it links back to the original blog post].
The article is an absolute must-read. I leave you with a verse, written in recognition of Wilkins’ contribution to typography and printing,
See patient Wilkins to the world unfold.
Whate’er discovered the Sanskrit relics hold,
But he performed a yet more noble part
He gave to Asia typographic art.
And these are images of hand lettering, calligraphy and title art from Rarh Studio’s blog:
Another resource to see Bengali lettering in title arts is this portal on Satyajit Ray. Viewing them along with the poster art brings a new perspective. The website also has separate sections about Ray’s book cover designs, as well as typography and lettering.
And, here is Frijky, a Bengali/Latin typeface by Neelakash Kshetrimayum (the website seems to be under construction at the moment), who is from the MATD class of 2010. The type specimen can be downloaded here.