Armenian Dram Sign

Andreas Stötzner's picture

Since the phrase given in the heading did not reveal any hits in the Typophile search, I wonder if anyone else might find this article worth reading.

evertype's picture

Looks like more work for me. :-)

Michael Everson
evertype.com

Andreas Stötzner's picture

well, if there’s no duty Armenian master around here … probably yes ;-)

hrant's picture

I had to make that -for the first time- for my Granshan* submission in 2008. It's a pretty easy and obvious structure. I don't know if that's good or bad actually, since I would relish the opportunity to have/make something idiosyncratically Armenian! On the other hand, currency is not something I like to glorify...

* BTW, they also required a glyph for the Armenian "eternity" symbol, concerning which there is a gentle, hidden debate as to how many arms it should have...

Any clues when/whether Unicode will include it?

hhp

John Hudson's picture

Hrant: ...Armenian “eternity” symbol, concerning which there is a gentle, hidden debate as to how many arms it should have...

Obviously it should have an infinite number of arms and take an eternity to design.

nina's picture

Any details on the eternity symbol arm debate, Hrant? Sounds intriguing. :)

hrant's picture

John: Funny!

Nina: Just some private emails and in-person discussions. To me the first thing to decide is whether it should be an odd or even number.

hhp

riccard0's picture

Don't know why, but now I have mental images of some sort of flying spaghetti monster...

quadibloc's picture

Apparently, the answer is six:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eternity

hrant's picture

Here's the one in Nour (which is more elaborate than is typical):

There are ones with six arms (the lowest I've noted)
but usually they have at least 8 - some many more.

hhp

hrant's picture

And here's a traditional one (see detail) from a khatchkar* that I was
pleasantly shocked to run into in central Novosibirsk (Siberia) with 12:

* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khachkar

hhp

oprion's picture

@hrant

You've been to Novisibirsk?
Did you visit the opera house?
_____________________________________________
Personal Art and Design Portal of Ivan Gulkov
www.ivangdesign.com

hrant's picture

I was there about 36 hours* but it was very memorable nonetheless. A real city. Gray, no tourists, and half its population looks really good in tight jeans. And I remember the tea service in Hotel Sibir - wow. The opera is that large domed building, right? There was a lot of scaffolding around it (September, 2004). The Saturday we toured all the banks in the city. There was this one with a huge purple cat on it - later we realized it was a minx. The Sunday morning I figured we should hit the church; not the small ceremonial one on the main street, but the populist one a bit away from the center, next to a train station in a gully of sorts. It was quite immersive, and we drew some visual inspiration from the decorations inside. And then we had to get on our respective flights back home. I did spend just under 24 hours in Moscow though. I'd been there before (for a couple of days, four years prior), and I do adore its raciness, but it's really just another big European city - not Russian enough.

* I did some "crack consulting" with/for Miles Newlyn on a bank identity redesign proposal.

hhp

Gus Winterbottom's picture

>Don’t know why, but now I have mental images of some sort of flying spaghetti monster...

It reminds me of the Celtic triskelion. Were there Celtic influences in Armenia?

oprion's picture

@ hrant

Ha! That church by the train station, is the one I got baptised in!

Truth to tell, there is't all that much to see in Novosibirsk aside from the opera house (they have a terrific troupe) and the zoo, as the city is only a little over 100 years old, and most of that grew as part of the war effort when factories were being moved away from the front lines. The people are nice though, way nicer then Muscovites ;D

Eh, sorry for getting this so far off topic.
_____________________________________________
Personal Art and Design Portal of Ivan Gulkov
www.ivangdesign.com

hrant's picture

> Ha! That church by the train station, is the one I got baptised in!

Wow! :-)
Do you remember what it's called?

Gus, that's actually an extremely interesting question. Although the structure of the triskelion/eternity* can be considered "intuitive" enough to ascribe any similarity to coincidence (or a shared primordial "culture"), there are in fact some very strong visual similarities between the two cultures** that actually go well beyond that one symbol. This, in spite of the large geographic divide. Recently I heard an explanation of why that's the case, but I don't remember what it was, and I have a feeling it was apocryphal anyway.

* BTW, just like the Nazis "repurposed" the swastika, the apartheid organization of Terreblanche in South Africa uses a triskelion!

** Another culture that looks Armenian (or vice versa) is the Basque, along with its environs. I was in Banaguás once (a hamlet near Jaca, in Aragon) and the local church looked faintly but clearly Armenian to me. Actually the Basque language and from what I understand even the genotype seem related to us!

There's this one khatchkar in a very impressive (if run-down) church complex in the town of Talin (close to the Turkish border) that I saw this summer, with all the Celtic knot-work and everything! I'll try to find my photo of it (actually Nina was there too, and she takes better pictures). Pretty amazing.

hhp

riccard0's picture

Were there Celtic influences in Armenia?
The spiral symbolism predates the Celts. (and the Armenians too)

nina's picture

We're so far off topic (sorry) but the Celtic-esqueness (hm) of some Armenian artefacts is indeed a super-interesting question.

At least in this case, it's definitely not true that my photos are so good. Hrant, from Talin I only have a photo of this one VERY Celtic-looking knot:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ninastoessinger/4158506482/

Also see: This altar in the Marmashen church complex in NW Armenia. Lots of celtic-esque knotwork:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ninastoessinger/4157743509/in/set-721576217...

hrant's picture

Thanks Nina!

hhp

riccard0's picture

Actually, the left one reminds me of the buddhist "endless knot":


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endless_knot

hrant's picture

From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_John%27s_Arms
> Unicode standards documents such as U2300 (Miscellaneous
> Technical, Range 2300–23FF) call it the "Place of Interest sign".

What do you guys think, would it be smarter to just use this for the Armenian eternity symbol, or to lobby the Consortium to give it its own code point? The main Armenian block does still have 10 empty slots, plus the symbol above might not be a good match neither in expected look nor assumed function*. I just never like the idea of submitting proposals to large organizations, pleading for attention, and then waiting for who knows how long. On the other hand, if there's a Unicode proposal in the works for the Dram maybe this can piggy-back?

* In fact I can't tell if it's really supposed to be U+2300, or U+2318.

hhp

riccard0's picture

if there’s a Unicode proposal in the works for the Dram maybe this can piggy-back?

I suppose that mr. Everson is the most qualified to answer this, since for what I gather he's an expert in submitting Unicode proposals (and I suspect that this was the "more work" he was referring to in his comment).

Andreas Stötzner's picture

…would it be smarter to just use this for the Armenian eternity symbol…?

To think of catching one of the 2300 codepoints here is high nonsense. If you must pinch a codepoint then serve yourself in the – otherwise senseless – 2700 block.

I just never like the idea of submitting proposals to large organizations, pleading for attention… … because it’s too laborious (?).
If you can well document the sign’s usage in connection with *text* (any liturgical books from the past –?) than a proposal to ISO/UTC will perform almost automatically. Epigraphical samples usually count as much as nothing.

hrant's picture

Some encouraging news:
There has been a formal proposal submitted to Unicode
concerning the Dram. The proposed location is 058B,
and it seems probable that by the middle of this year
we'll be able to safely put it there.

hhp

John Hudson's picture

Hrant: it seems probable that by the middle of this year we'll be able to safely put it there.

Caveat: Unicode strongly discourages implementation of any character before formal publication of the standard. Last minute changes to codepoint assignments is rare, but it has happened in the past.

hrant's picture

Is there a safer place (maybe somewhere out-of-the-way so to speak) to put something like this? Because not putting it at all seems the least feasible option (since it's already in use, hence expected to be present in an Armenian font).

hhp

kenko's picture

I just hit upon this forum and signed in;

there are webpages for Armenian Dram Sign, hopefully they would be useful for readers.
http://www.armeniapedia.org/index.php?title=Armenian_Dram_Sign
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armenian_dram_sign

Note: The proposed location "058B" in Unicode for Dram doesn't look like to be the appropriate one as the range 0530-058F in Unicode is for the letters; same may be referred to the other accepted national signs.

Keep in touch pls for the further actions, as some works are on the way.

hrant's picture

Welcome!

> the range 0530-058F in Unicode is for the letters

Yes, but in some cases -such as Afhgani and Khmer- a
nation's currency has ended up in its alphabetic block.

hhp

John Hudson's picture

Unicode tends now to include currency signs within script blocks, rather than in a generic currency symbol block. I think this is a sensible idea, especially for a script that is so closely tied to a single language, because it makes it more likely that font makers will remember to include the symbol along with the letters to which it both visually and socially relates.

kenko's picture

Dear John,
I highly appreciate your business as it benefits to communication through letters and characters :)
Your (or anybody's else)idea about inclusion of monetary symbols within alphabetic block seems to be really helpful for the font designers. However, there are some considerations, which I'd like to present here.

First, the monetary symbols belong to the block of simbols performing one-and-the-same function; otherwise anybody looking for the set of those symbols has to search through the whole Unicode and the alphabetic blocks of the world nations, which doesn't make sense. For instance, I could miss Afhgani and Khmer monetary symbols if not hitting upon them at this forum.

On the other hand, the number of font designers are limited, and for their good it is better to contact the countries' institutions/developers to which they'd like to benefit to. Finally, there are state institutions, who are ISO members and make their official votes at Unicode.

Best regards,

hrant's picture

This just hit me:
A currency symbols should be "next to" the numerals used with it. So for a script that uses its own numerals the symbol should be in its own codepage; but for scripts that use Latin/Arabic numerals the symbol should be with all the others that do that. Is that too ghetto?

hhp

Andreas Stötzner's picture

It hardly matters in which UC block a character ends up. An overall well-sorted standard, that horse …

What hits *me* much more is the design issue. We have seen several new monetary signs born during the last few years. Most recent: Indian Rupee, Armenian Dram.

For me as a font designer the challenge is:
a) to make the glyph harmonizing with the writing system it is related to;
b) to make the glyph suitable to the figures it will get used with;
c) to make the glyph fitting to the existing set of international currency signs it will be competing with;
d) to equally manage a) to c).

That is quite a task, isn’t it?

Related:
thread upon Sheqel design
thread about Rupee design
about regional currency signs in Germany and Austria (deutsch)

evertype's picture

In the case of the Dram sign, it is clearly based on a letter of the alphabet, rather than on something recognizably generic. As there is space in the Armenian block, it is sensible to put i there.

evertype's picture

Hrant... this "eternity sign" is in lots of fonts.

So... what do people use it for?

hrant's picture

To mean Eternity. :-)
Actually I think they just use it to feel more Armenian.
You know, the more I think about it, the more it seems
not to belong in Unicode. On the other hand, there's no
shortage of room, so...

hhp

david h's picture

Smithsonian Magazine's Annual Museum Day to feature Armenian history and culture

http://www.almainc.org/calendar_events_smithsonian.html

kenko's picture

quote: An overall well-sorted standard, that horse …
What hits *me* much more is the design issue.
comment: that is what it is, and it is true.

quote: In the case of the Dram sign, it is clearly based on a letter of the alphabet,
comment: a) the Currency Symbols block compiled the symbols which are clearly accociated with the various alphabets, so what is different for the Dram symbol?
b) the key matter for the Currency symbols is the presense of the strokes, as they make them the symbols and not letters;
c) the vacant space in a letter block doesn't sound to be a good point of the specific symbols inclusion; again piling all together is the designers' issue only and not a matter of functionality;
d) finally, if there is Currency Symbols block why to disperse the new symbols?

kenko's picture

quote: So... what do people use it for?
quote: To mean Eternity. :-) Actually I think they just use it to feel more Armenian.

comment:
a)the Eternity sign is summoned to organize texts paragraphs, similarly, for instance, to the sign § (§ &sect) in Russian;
b)the Unicode has some very typical national symbols already, so being 'UNI' this database may include some other national well-known symbols as well;
c) the symbol has been widely used by Armenians throughout their history.

hrant's picture

> the Eternity sign is summoned to organize texts paragraphs

Really?
That would be a shame.

> the Unicode has some very typical national symbols already

That's a good point.

hhp

kenko's picture

Hrant, the paragraphs for instance, actually there may be much more for the Eternity Sign; what you name a 'shame' would be honoring the sign. It is clear that each language uses its national symbols.
In my understanding the Unicode can barely embrace all the national symbols, can it?

hrant's picture

It's a shame because our Eternity sign has an ancient, loaded meaning, and it's embarrassing to see it used for generic formatting.

> In my understanding the Unicode can barely embrace all the national symbols, can it?

Do you mean there's not enough room for all such symbols? That's certainly true; so we have to be picky.

I'm not really opposed to having the Armenian Eternity sign in Unicode, I just wouldn't want to see people dumping everything in there.

hhp

kenko's picture

Being picky do not prevent from placing some key symbols; there is a number of national symbols present in Unicode already.

evertype's picture

In ISO/IEC JTC1/SC2 N4156, SARM, the Armenian National Institute of Standards made in its comments a request for the encoding of the Armenian Eternity Sign.

Armenia is not a P-Member of the Subcommittee responsible for the Universal Character Set, and their comments did not include the Proposal Summary Form and so unless a proper proposal is made then the only thing that the committee will do is say "Noted".

I am putting together a proposal. There is VERY LITTLE TIME.

Please, please, please. Do any of you have examples of this symbol used in text? It is no good to say that it is used to organize paragraphs. That is just a rumour without some sort of evidence.

Also it appears from the SARM comment that two will be needed, right-facing and left-facing. They did explain a particular usage scenario: "Right and left rotations have accordingly active and passive meanings, as in case of Swastika, and are used in order to accentuate these meanings. For example, a cradle for а boy is decorated with the right whirling eternity sign and a cradle for а girl with the left whirling eternity sign."

We do have RIGHT-FACING SVASTI SIGN and LEFT-FACING SVASTI SIGN so I would see little problem in having RIGHT-FACING ARMENIAN ETERNITY SIGN and LEFT-FACING ARMENIAN ETERNITY SIGN.

Every few years I see people complaining that this isn't in Unicode. Every few years I make a plea like this. Evidence, folks, please?

nina's picture

Michael, do you need printed/written text, or would things like inscriptions on buildings help too?

evertype's picture

Printed/written text. I have some xačk'ar images already. If there is an inscription on a building with text maybe. But look, it's been in fonts for more than a decade. So what are people using the font image for?

evertype's picture

Hm. 07:20. Maybe Hrant will wake soon...

hrant's picture

I never sleep. And that's the problem. More aysap.

hhp

evertype's picture

I am supposed to file my document today, but it must be tomorrow. I have a draft.

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