Tai-Ahom and its typographical implementation

Sergio Trujillo


The Tai-Ahom script was used by the rulers of the Indian state of Assam for almost six hundred years. It fell into disuse as the consequence of multiple social, cultural, religious, and political circumstances that took place during the rule of the Ahom Kingdom. Starting from the early stages of its demise, continuous efforts to preserve both the Tai-Ahom script and language have been made, culminating in the on-going Ahom revival movement. However, there have been very few attempts to translate this writing system into type, and they all fail to address the typographic needs of the Tai- Ahom script.
This work aims to reevaluate the typographic implementation of the Tai-Ahom script; taking historical, cultural, and technological considerations into account. It analyses the letterforms found within the manuscript tradition —their construction, appearance, and behaviour— and compares them with the existing Tai-Ahom typographic renditions. A type design proposal is presented with the intention to better represent the script, and to serve as the foundation for future research endeavours. Moreover, the intention of both the research project and the presented design proposal is to serve as a starting point regarding Tai-Ahom type design as well as non-Latin type design in general.
Further design efforts, which need to take the cultural heritage into account, are urgent for the Tai-Ahom script to develop a true typographic evolution detached from the oppression of the Latin model. New type designs should not only respond and reflect the needs of mainstream textual communication, but also aid in language preservation.

Available on Academia.edu