Nikola Tesla: Cyrillic K?

Maxim Zhukov's picture
Could there be a special reason behind the consistent use of the Cyrillic К (Ka, Kako, U+041A) in the name of Nikola Tesla (Никола Тесла)?


St.Sava Cathedral, 25th St. and Broadway, New York City.


Hotel New Yorker, West 34th St., off 8th Ave., New York City.

blank's picture

It could just be a hat tip to the Tesla’s eccentricities.

froo's picture

Aesthetics is a politics: a Serb, son of a priest, St. Sava Cathedral, America.

tourdeforce's picture

If the font was chosen by sculptor or any other fine artist, that could be one of the reason(s). BTW, what font is this? Does anyone knows?

tourdeforce's picture

@ Marcin: Didn't understood you - is your point that if Tesla was Bulgarian, Polish, Norwegian... his monument would have proper "K"? What does politics have to do with letter "K"?

Maxim Zhukov's picture
  • What does politics have to do with letter “K”?
Actually, a lot:


Being back to the Cyrillic К… As you know, this kind of thing is often done intentionally, for that extra ‘Russian’ touch. With varying degree of subtlety:



tourdeforce's picture

I know what are you saying... but it sounds then like some East European artist(s) who did this monument are political active and they used "K" for sake of showing their political attitudes. I mean, how can you tell by lettter "K" if someone is communist, liberal, democrat or anarchist? That just doesn't make a sense. Only thing that's tricky here is letter "K" which isn't Western's "K" and probably one who made this monument or those letters is/are just typographically uneducated or they used this "K" because Nikola Tesla was a Serb, from East Europe, from Serbia and it reminds them on for example Russian letters.... I wanna say... "K" would pretty abstract symbol for showing political attitude.

froo's picture

I just wanted to say, that the detail used in Tesla's name, has been probably intended as a "protection" of the honoured person against the "misuse". The small community wants to emphasize its cultural "separateness in memory". This is what I call politics.

Offtopic, but anyway linked: Kościuszko's Monument in Chicago shows Polish hero of American Revolution sitting on the horse with his legs outstretched. That's the way of horse riding called the spanish school, while our riders sat on a horse on the bent legs. It's not a matter of philately difference. It's British and Prussian officers, general's opponents, who used to ride horses spanish way! So his rigid pose on the monument isn't anyway a portrait of victorious volunteer, but of an imperial general - with all implications.

tourdeforce's picture

I agree with you Marcin.
And to be honest by everything said so far in this topic, I'm glad that "K" went through monument :) Even it's an abstract symbol representing his legacy and home land.

About "K"... either those who made Tesla's monument used "K" accidentally, either they used it with purpose. A lot of artists like to implement something small and provocative into their works (either for clients, either for personal projects), so everything is possible in Tesla's keys :)

Antonio Cavedoni's picture

Dusan, I think that is Times New Roman.

tourdeforce's picture

This is TNR, with Latin and Cyrillic K's.

Nick Shinn's picture

I like the way his collar and hairstyle match.
Dude had style, apparently.
Therefore a stylin' K quite appropriate.


Tesla was a character, with a mysterious, exotic reputation, to put it mildly.
He theorized energy beams (much prior to lasers), the stuff of sci-fi.

More culture than politics.
But culture is politics, eh Marcin?

froo's picture

It is.
Personally and honestly (how to put it gently?), the creator of the bust castrated Tesla.

dezcom's picture

If I were designing something like this, I at least, would have been tempted to include some very subtle commentary, perhaps the Ka as well, but I don't know the person's intentions. Luckily, any of my political commentary in this country (although not so subtle) has remained without incident--something I was not so sure about a few short years ago.

dezcom's picture

Anthony Quinn, of Mexican-Irish and Aztec ancestry who is best known for his portrayal of a Greek acting as a middle Eastern Sultan looks for crosby, hope, and charity behind door number 3. Only in LA ;-)

don dada's picture

dušan, a small note on the side:
because Nikola Tesla was a Serb, from East Europe, from Serbia

tesla was born in the village of smiljan, then austria-hungary, today’s croatia.

i do like the cyrillic »k,« i have to admit. it counters to a degree the trend (for lack of a better word) i have noticed with many (modern) latin-cyrillic typefaces that have substituted the cyrillic letter »k« with the latin one.

tourdeforce's picture

"Tesla was born to Serbian parents in the village of Smiljan, Austrian Empire near the town of Gospić, in the territory of modern-day Croatia."

Yes, it's true that's it's in Croatia now days.
So that makes Tesla... what? Austrian then?

don dada's picture

tesla was a u.s. american citizen at the time of his death.

dezcom's picture

"Born an ethnic Serb in the village of Smiljan, Croatian Military Frontier in Austrian Empire (today's Croatia), Tesla was a subject of the Austrian Empire by birth and later became an American citizen."

It seems that nationalism was not a big issue for him. He just wanted to do his work.

tourdeforce's picture

Agree with both of you. Like in sport today.
But he was also a Serb and that can't be removed from his biography.
Accepting USA citizenship doesn't mean declining native citizenship.

We're going into nationalism now and there's no "K" in the word "nationalism" :)

dezcom's picture

Why would anyone want to "remove it"?

don dada's picture

tourdeforce: "But he was also a Serb and that can't be removed from his biography."
dezcom: "Why would anyone want to 'remove it'?"

-> and, more importantly, who did?

dušan, without going off on a tangent (too) much, of course there are countries where you have to denounce your former citizenship if you want to become a citizen of said country (germany comes to mind).

citizenship and ethnicity or ethnic heritage are two different things, just take a look at the u.s., great britain or france, if you wish. you seem to think that the two are mutually exclusive, but i don't see why they would be.

as to the question of nationalism ... i don't see the association here at all -- because he was a serb? an intriguing point however, as it shows the conditioning that has taken place over the past two decades, for whatever reasons ... my correction was related to his place of birth, nothing else. all the following interpretations are yours.

just my 2 yen. and i am now focusing on type again. :)

tourdeforce's picture

@ dezcom: Croatia had some tries to accept (someone would rather said - to "steal" or "take over") Tesla as a Croatian, but it just didn't passed for obvious reasons. That's just one sensitive question about his citizenship for Serb - is (was) he a Serb or Croatian. Probably, speaking reasonable, there are not countries in the world who wouldn't love to say that Tesla was their scientist, so that's why I said "to remove it" in last post.

@ don dada: You can't understand what I'm trying to say, cause you're not from this part of the world and it's not the same for you as Japanese (from your profile) and me as a Serb to talk about this topic, since we here think about Tesla as one of the greatest Serb, not just scientist, in our wild history, he's one of the brightness person and the rest of the world thinks as one of the greatest scientist etc etc etc...

Let us thanks to Tesla for giving us a el. power and chance to make typefaces in electrical form :)

froo's picture

Joseph Conrad was born in Polish family in (mostly Jewish) Berdichev, today Ukraine, which was part of Poland under Russian occupation. And there is no doubt - nobody has it - that he was an English writer! Excellent English writer and British citizien.
But on some level, from reasons too complicated to explain, he is located in Polish literature and remembered in Ukraine. As an English writer.

The same with Tesla. "Our wild history" demands us to remember that he was a Serb from Smijan. There's no hagiography without biography. And more - let people from Smijan (whoever they are now) have the hope, that whatever happened once, can happen again there.

tourdeforce's picture

If someone would like to have Tesla's handwriting font:
http://www.tipometar.org/kolumne/TeslaFont/IndexEng.html

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