Design and Typography

Hardcover edition of Sur’s Ocean, showing jacket design and palette of deep fuchsia and gold

Jacket Design

The series logo and jacket design were selected in an international design competition. The winning concept by Andrea A. Stranger was chosen for its grace, spirit, and timelessness. The elephant as a symbol has historic significance in both Indian and Western cultures. The pattern and the vibrant palette is characteristic of South Asia and complements the elegant Western typography.

Typography

English/Pali

Languages that use the Latin script are set in Antwerp, which was chosen for its versatility and balance with the Indic typography. Designed by Henrik Kubel of A2-TYPE in London, Antwerp is a sixteenth-century typeface with contemporary proportions. The design is a free-spirited amalgamation and interpretation of the awe-inspiring archives of type on display at the Museum Plantin-Moretus in the Belgian city Antwerp.

Bangla*

Detail from the title page of In Praise of Annada, Volume 1

Bangla text is set in the Murty Bangla typeface, commissioned by Harvard University Press and designed by John Hudson and Fiona Ross of Tiro Typeworks. The design follows the manuscript tradition of letterform construction reintroduced to typography by Linotype Bengali in the late 1970s, but in a less condensed form with lower stroke contrast. Its proportions and overall texture are closer to those of metal types previously employed by the leading Kolkata publishing house, Ananda Bazar Patrika. The design of Murty Bangla is intended to provide excellent readability to the informed scholar and the contemporary younger reader alike.

Hindi*

Detail from the title page of Sur’s Ocean

Hindi text is set in the Murty Hindi typeface, specially commissioned for the purpose by Harvard University Press and designed by John Hudson and Fiona Ross of Tiro Typeworks. The proportions and styling of the characters are in keeping with the typographic tradition established by the renowned Nirnaya Sagar Press, yet with a deliberate reduction of the typically high degree of stroke modulation. The result is a robust, modern design with clean lines and generously proportioned counters, which ensures optimum readability at both text and footnote sizes.

Kannada*

Detail from the title page of The Life of Harishchandra

Kannada text is set in the Murty Kannada typeface, commissioned by Harvard University Press and designed by John Hudson and Fiona Ross of Tiro Typeworks. The design takes inspiration from a range of sources—the crisp, open counters of the eighteenth-century types of the renowned Basel Mission Press; the styling of ligatures in the 1930s Kannada types offered by the Gujarat Type Foundry; and the dynamic stroke angles of unattributed types found in a twentieth-century Kannada Reader. Murty Kannada avoids the extreme high-contrast style of earlier designs and adheres to contemporary patterns of Kannada stroke modulation to ensure good readability for all sizes.

Panjabi*

Detail from the title page of Sufi Lyrics

Panjabi text is set in the Murty Gurmukhi typeface, specially commissioned for the purpose by Harvard University Press and designed by John Hudson and Fiona Ross of Tiro Typeworks. This original design reintroduces traditional stroke modulation patterns that are apparent in manuscript letterforms but which have been lacking in conventional Panjabi typography to date. The design consciously recalls forms found in the manuscript Prayer Book of Rani Jindan (British Library Panjabi MS D4).

Persian

Detail from the title page of The History of Akbar

Persian text is set in Nassim, an award-winning typeface designed by Titus Nemeth of TN Typography that has proven its versatility in complex typographic situations and has become particularly popular for Persian language setting. Fitting to its use in a new edition of classical literature, the type’s contemporary design is combined with elements derived from Islamic manuscript practice to make for a pleasant reading experience with sophistication in the details.

Sanskrit*

Detail from the title page of Arjuna and the Hunter

Sanskrit text is set in the Murty Sanskrit typeface, specially commissioned for the purpose by Harvard University Press and designed by John Hudson and Fiona Ross of Tiro Typeworks. The proportions and styling of the characters are in keeping with the typographic tradition established by the renowned Nirnaya Sagar Press, yet with a deliberate reduction of the typically high degree of stroke modulation. The result is a robust, modern typeface that includes Sanskrit-specific type forms and conjuncts.

Telugu*

Detail from the title page of The Story of Manu

Telugu text is set in the Murty Telugu typeface, specially commissioned for the purpose by Harvard University Press and designed by John Hudson and Fiona Ross of Tiro Typeworks. The type is inspired by those of the Swatantra Type Foundry in the shaping of the counters and the relatively high degree of stroke modulation for Telugu letterforms. Following the manuscript tradition, subscript letters are larger than in many fonts, making them more legible in text.

Book Design

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Murty Classical Library of India volumes are designed by Rathna Ramanathan and Guglielmo Rossi of M9Design. The design is based on research on the history of the Indic book, including palm leaf and birch-bark manuscripts and early printed books. Inspired by polyphonic classical music, the layout highlights the unique nature of each classical text while adjusting to the needs of each Indic script. Following the intellectual mission of facing-page translations, the page spread is designed so text and translation reflect each other rather than allowing one to decide the other’s fate. The series design is based on the idea of “unity in diversity,” celebrating the individuality of each language while bringing them together within a single, cohesive visual identity.

* All fonts commissioned for the Murty Classical Library of India are made available, free of charge, for non-commercial use, upon publication of the first book in which each appears. Fonts currently available for download: Murty Bangla; Murty Gurmukhi; Murty Hindi; Murty Kannada; Murty Sanskrit; Murty Telugu. Download fonts »