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Dabireh: Alef, Dabireh Collective's first edited volume, was published in October 2009. This edition is a distillation of two years of research and experiments by Dabireh members.
The book is printed in 160 pages in two colors and contains fifteen articles by Dabireh members and contributors. Articles in this issue, all in Persian, span over historic and theoretical discussions, Persian-Arabic writing system, Persian language, case studies and project features.
The following is a brief review of the articles in the book.
The Monster and the Script | Reza Abedini
Abedini starts Dabireh Alef with a sobering call to arms. He points out to the dire need for long term and methodical study of writing systems, typography and calligraphy in Iran today; "Rather than policing, Persian -Arabic writing system needs accurate research, connecting it to its roots" says Abedini. He believes identifying the missing link between decline of calligraphy and rise of printing type is key for putting an end to the challenges and confusions of typography.
Understanding the structure of Persian-Arabic writing system is an essential step towards discovery of the qualities that differentiate Iranian design. An arguable criticism of contemporary Iranian design is its use of structures and layouts based on western traditions and simply substituting the Roman type with Persian-Arabic text.
Abedini calls for breathing the original subtleties of calligraphy back into type design. "What we call type today, and even fuss over its details, is an inevitable mistake" says Abedini. Given the advances in technology he believes we have the chance to examine the advantages and disadvantages of calligraphy over typography and "design type that we would have naturally rather than under duress."
Dabireh | Sima Zolfaghari
An introduction to the history of the Dabireh script. With reference to historic sources Zolfaghari recounts the numerous applications of Dabireh script, its evolution and applications in the Sasanid period.
Inception of Writing, Another Take on Beginnings of Script | Ariasp Dadbeh
Dadbeh explores the beginnings of script in history and myth, arguing that in the context of myth script finds a new life worthy of reconsidering our understanding of what a writing system is capable of. Dadbeh walks the reader through the maze of cultures and their scripts, parting his insights along the way. The dialogue within and between cultures and type-forms in Sanskrit, Chinese and Pahlavi are among the case studies he provides.
The Legend of Script in Iran | Shervin Farridnejad
A study of the literary references to the significance of script and language as integral elements of Iranian identity. Following the first two articles in this edition, the author aptly further explores varied readings of script in myth and history, citing passages from Masnavi and Pahlavi sources dating back to the holy book of Avesta.
Iranian Roots of the Persian-Arabic Script | Roknodin Homayoon Farokh, Edited by Shahrzad Changlavaee
In the original essay, published in 1976 in Talash magazine, Homayoon Farokh used historic evidence to illustrate an alternate reading of the evolution of Persian-Arabic writing system. The author believes that Kufic script is not a predecessor to Naskh and Taliq as it is often assumes and provides historic specimens to support this theory. Homayoon Farokh traces this theory over ten centuries from the birth of Kufic into development of the six classic Persian-Arabic scripts: Reyhan, Sols, Reqa, Naskh, Toqi, Mohaghagh.
The travails of Euro-Arabic: calligraphy, logography and typography in the early modern period | Geoffrey Roper
Roper provides a detailed chronology of advancements in printing techniques for Arabic script from block-prints of the Fatimid period in egypt to Arabic typefaces designed by Granjon and William Caslon; the ongoing challenge of doing justice to a fluid script with blocks of type. Roper's study reveals how limitation of printing and lack of formal knowledge of Persian-Arabic writing system led to unaccomplished renderings of the script well into the 19th century.
Read the complete article in English
Banaee: Square Kufic | Zeinab Shahidi
A fascinating introduction to Square Kufic (Ma'qeli Kufic), the purely geometric variation of Kufic script that stemmed from decorative scriptures on facade of brick buildings in the 10th century and flourished into a complex system of its own. Shahidi explains how to read Square Kufic by deconstructing complex scriptures and notes the rules and guidelines for creation of dizzying intricate patterns of these scriptures.
Naeen Grand Mosque Inscription | Iman Raad
The Scripture in Naeen's Grand Mosque is among the few remaining examples of its kind, built in the 10th century under the reign of Ale Booye. Depicting phrases from Quran this inscription demonstrates mastery of craft in inscribing floral Kufic in architecture. Raad inspects the motifs in this inscription and compares them to those of Tisfoon created in the Sasanid era.
Hurufism | Zeinab Shahidi
In the 8th century A.H. (14th century A.D.), during the reign of Timur, a sufi from the city of Tabriz famous for his ability to interpret dreams began the dissemination of a new faith. His faith, based on sacred qualities of the letters came to be known as hurufiyya and his followers as Horoufis. While this movement had at first originated in Iran, its followers now exist in Turkey, by the name of Baktashi.
Read the complete article in English
Typeface: Piramooz | Homa Delvaray
Piramooz is a new design based on Magribi Kufic, developed in Magrib and Andalous. It is a slender typeface featuring long stems on Alif and Laam as well as extended Mims and Noons below the baseline. Piramooz can be set with minimal kerning to form intricate lines of text, making it visually distinct as a display font.
The Gutenberg Galaxy | Shahrzad Changlavaee
An introduction to Marshal Mcluhan's canonical text and introduction to the concepts of Gutenberg Galaxy and Marconni Glaxy.
Morphology of Persian-Arabic Script, an Introduction | Farhad Fozouni
In this illustrated article Fozouni introduces a new set terms that refer to details and mechanics of Persian-Arabic script which have no parallel in Roman script, thus no term that refers to them. Fozouni starts with a thorough breakdown of the mechanics of Persian-Arabic writing system and discusses the exceptions and particularities of each letter. This article is extremely valuable for anyone with an interest in the script as it provides a terminology, allowing for dialogue around qualities of Persian-Arabic script hitherto without a common name.
Kaafche | Behrad Javanbakht, Iman Raad
A short article shedding light on the typographic mark that differentiates letter Kaaf and Laam in Muhaqqaq. The authors recount guidelines from type manuals on the necessity of the mark and advice on the correct use of the form when designing typefaces.
Read the complete article in English
Evolution of Ya | Asieh Dehghani
An Illustrated article depicting the evolution in form of letter Ya with 90 cited specimens.
Type Objects | Mohammad Reza Abdolali
For his dissertation in university of Tehran, Mohammad Reza conducted an in depth study of type in three diminutional space. His explorations with the Naskh based font Mitra, as well as his own geometric designs led to experiments with Square Kufic letters. The modular nature of Kufic enabled him to distill the elements into seven essential forms with which he constructed the entire alphabet. The results are original and aesthetically in tune with the sources of inspiration.
The launching ceremony was held in Tehran at Artists' Forum where Reza Abedini and Farhad Fozouni presented lectures on advantages and shortcomings of typography in the Iranian design scene and in relation to the international design landscape. Fozouni also explained the process of compiling and editing this first printed volume by Dabireh Collective.
An exhibition of rare religious posters accompanied the opening. These posters from personal collection of Iranian prominent sculptor and researcher Parviz Tanavoli were on display for the public for the first time. Some of the pieces are over a century old and showcase the traditional approaches that inspire and inform contemporary design practices in Iran.