To develop a typographic representation of Dives Akuru, the official writing system of the Maldives between the 9th and 18th centuries.
Dives Akuru originated in the Brahmi alphabet, like other Indian scripts such as Sinhala and Tamil. However, in order to be perceived as an Islamic country and to get closer to the Arabs, the Maldives gradually replaced this script with a new writing system that resembles Arabic: the Thaana. This change was part of a process in which the population came to ignore its cultural links with neighbouring countries, India and Sri Lanka, and identified themselves as a islamic country. Thus, Dives Akuru existed only in manuscript form, unlike the other Indian scripts that underwent their transition to typography during Western colonisation in the 19th century.
How to translate the stylistic variety of cursive manuscript forms typographically? How to capture the essence of the letterforms without being overly influenced by the rationalised Western viewpoint, as has happened in other Indic scripts?
With the support of anthropologists, linguists and the Maritime Asia Heritage Survey, this project analyzes and classifies several documents from a stylistic point of view, looking for the most common form of writing and the most used tools, which guide the development of a typeface.
The main goal of this project is that the digital font could be used by scholars from different fields who need to represent this alphabet in their research. The use of this digital tool may also help to draw attention to this culture that once existed but has been largely forgotten.