Mkhedruli Mtavruli Typography: Supply and Demand Model in Action

Western cultural and civilizational influence in Georgia started to rise rapidly from 17-th century, after Ottoman and Iran empires found to be collapsing and Western influence raised in Near East. Westernization of Georgia speeded especially after incorporation into Russian Empire. This influence not only affected dressing (costume), Opera, Russian or European University diplomas and spreading of Russian or French (“aristocratic”) languages.

Georgian intellectuals eyes become conventional to Western kind of typography, which (contrary to arabic scripture which was “lingua franca” for centuries in Georgia) was intensively using CAPITAL letters for headers, sentence and names capitalization, etc.

Actually, immediately after establishing typographies which were serving Georgian mass media, literacy and administration — there was born DEMAND for Western kind of capitalization of texts. But dilemma was that till 1864 there were not casted capital letters for common Mkhedruli scripture.

First time, handwritten Mkhedruli Mtavruli (Caps) were designed as early as 1728 by Nikoloz Tfileli

But DEMAND was working and typographies started to use “palliative” method — they started to use upsized Mkhedruli letters instead of real capitals. This way Mkhedruli Mtavruli letters were “simulated, imitated, emulated“…

In some cases “imitated” Mkhedruli Mtavruli letters were also placed up or down of baseline — to look more like real Mtavruli (Caps).

Here are presented some examples of Mkhedruli Mtavruli “imitated” by demand, started as early as 1801 and actually till real Mkhedruli Mtavruli types were casted.



“Imitated” Mkhedruli Mtavruli below base line




Examples from:
ბ.გორდეზიანი, ქართული მხედრული შრიფტი, თბილისი, 1955
(Beno Gordeziani, Georgian Mkhedruli Type, Tbilisi, 1955)

there is an objective market law, that demand is to be supplied — and, in 1863 group of wealthy, western educated young intellectuals decided to establish innovative Georgian typography enterprise, equipped with most modern type.

Nikoloz Gogoberidze, Vakhtang Tulashvili, Stefan Melikishvili, Dimitri Bakradze


Mikheil Kipiani

After typeface design competition new, innovative and modern sans-serif font of Mikheil Kipiani  was casted in Vienna in 1864, symbolically named by this city name — which established new era in Georgian typography. Type, font “Vienna” ვენური (or “Chveulebrivi”) till now is popular and is a masterpiece and lighthouse of Georgian font design and typography.

Demand was supplied…
Type “Vienna” was first Georgian type having clever, balanced, modern, western kind (proportional towards “lowercase”) Mkhedruli Mtavruli (Caps).

So, it happened in 1863-1864 — 150 years ago (and till now, we have not Mkhedruli Mtavruli in Unicode — instead, we have “visa-liberalization” in EU)…



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