October 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

Uncial scripts are the scripts with majuscule letters written in Greek, Latin or Gothic scripts between the third and eighth centuries AD. The uncials were first used because they are single stroke letters and it is easier to write on parchment or vellum (animal skin prepared for being written on) with single stroke. Before this wasn’t the case. In rough surfaces such as papyrus it was easier to write with more than one stroke. Besides being written with single stroke uncial letters have another important characteristic. Space is left between the words. First uncial scripts were simple with single stroke but later on they became more complicated. Ascenders and descenders, overlapping letterforms started to be used. From these more complicated features the half-uncials developed.

Half-uncials are named in eighteenth century. They are named this way because half-uncials have many common characteristics with uncials. When they are named separately it looks as if they are two different scripts. Actually they are used together in the same script.

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Johannes Gutenberg

October 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

He is the German printer and goldsmith who invented the modern printing method. He invented the movable printing method and it lead to the Printing Revolution. It is also important because many of the important events such as Renaissance, Reformation and the Scientific Revolution were realized thanks to his invention. He first used his invention in 1439. Besides inventing the first movable printing machine he had many other contributions in the printing area. For example he used oil based ink and the wooden printing press. And also his inventions lead to mass production of books so the knowledge was spread more easily.

Guttenberg printed several books between the years 1450 and 1455. However these books are not that much known because they didn’t have name or date. Later on he printed the Bible starting in 1450 and this was a very important event. The reason was that it was much more cheaper than the handwritten Bible and it took much shorter time to prepare it. It was also spread more easily when Guttenberg started to print it. When the copies of this Bible are analyzed with the criteria of modern day there are some missing parts such as paragraph breaks, page numbers and paragraph indentations. The Bible that Guttenberg printed was later on ”illuminated” (illustrations were added).

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October 19, 2010 § Leave a comment

Slab serif is the typeface that has bulky and block like serifs. Unlike serif typefaces Slab serifs do not have brackets, which connect the stokes and the serifs. The end part of the serifs can be different. They may be blunt, angular or curved.

Slab serifs are first designed by Vincent Figgins and they were mostly used for posters, flyers, where it was more convenient to use with a display size. Because slab-serifs are not suitable to use in continuous texts, they are mostly used in bigger font size mostly in titles. Around this time Egypt and Egyptian forms became popular. The newly discovered Egyptian forms also influenced type designers and they included the structure of the Egyptian architecture, columns in the new fonts they designed. Claredon, Rockwell, Egyptienne are some examples for slab-serif fonts.

There are three different types of slab-serifs: Clarendon model, Neo-grotesque model, Italienne model.

The Clarendon model has bracketing and contrast compared to the other two models.

The neo-grotesque model doesn’t have bracketing and the weight of the stem and the serif is the same.

The Italienne model has serifs that weight heavier than the stems.

And there is also a typewriter slab-serif. Typewiriter slab-serifs can be from each model. The most important characteristic is that every letter occupies the same space horizontally.

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Rosetta Stone

October 16, 2010 § Leave a comment

It is the stone that has texts written in three different ways: one with ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs, the other with Egyptian demotic script and the last one with ancient Greek alphabet. Because of that this stone is very important in solving the Egyptian hieroglyphs.

The fact that there are three different scripts telling the same thing can be explained. The rulers changed in Egyptian history and with the change of each ruler scripts Egyptians used also changed.

First, Egyptians used hieroglyphs and they used hieratic for governmental and commerce purposes. Later on they started to use Demotic, which is an easier version of the hieroglyphs. Demotic was used because the priests thought that the message written on Rosetta stone had to be read by every Egyptian. Later on when Christianity spread in Egypt it was necessary to add a third script. Final script used Coptic that has 24 Greek letterforms and a few Demotic characters.

Rosetta stone is found in 1790 in Egypt and it is considered and it is considered as one of the most important things affecting the modern typography. The slab serifs are influenced from the Egyptian columns and this is related to the discovery of the Rosetta stone. By this discovery, Egyptian forms became popular all around the world and that’s why typographers were influenced by the study of a different culture.

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October 12, 2010 § Leave a comment

Buddhism originated in India during sixth century BC. It is based on the teachings of Buddha.

It is a discussed concept whether Buddhism is a religion or philosophy. The answer of this question is discussed because religion can be defined from different aspects. This means that if religion is defined, as worshipping a supernatural being Buddhism is not a religion because it is defined as a non-theistic religion. Non-theistic is the kind of religion that does not have the notion of having a certain supernatural being or beings (God or Gods) as the creator of the whole universe.

On the other hand Buddhism can be considered as a religion if religion is defined as a system including rules about moral values, rituals and traditions, which aim to show its followers the supreme truth.

Another reason that causes the confusion whether it is a religion or not is that it is a religion created by humans. It is not sent by supernatural powers to guide the human kind to the ultimate truth.

Buddhism is based on “samsara” that means the continuous flow. This flow is the cycle of life and death. According to this belief, living creatures are in this cycle of suffer. This cycle can be explained simply. Everyone suffers in some way and humans cause the suffering of other humans. The only way to end it is to prevent from doing things that make others suffer. This way people can be enlightened.

Buddha also explains that the main reasons of suffering as lack of knowledge and greediness. Because of these bad habits people do things that can harm their bodies and minds and this prevents them from having a joyful life. Once people learn how to avoid these two bad habits they can achieve Nirvana. Nirvana is the state where the suffering ends and people live a joyful life in peace.

It has a simple belief system. First of all it believes that nothing is lost in the universe. This means that everything turns to something else but they all continue their existence in the universe. It also supports the idea in most of the other religions. Every being is part of a whole and there is a balance in the universe because of a certain cycle. On the other hand this can also be considered as a scientific approach. Things can’t be formed from nothing and nothing gets lost.

Secondly, it believes that everything changes. This is also related to the first belief. Nothing stays unchanged, stable for eternity.

Thirdly, Buddhism suggests the idea of “karma”. This means that there is a reason and consequence for every action. This idea is also related to first two concepts. Since everything is a whole in the universe and everything changes; there is a consequence for every decision and act. This means that if you do something good to others, it returns back to you. It is also valid for the bad things you do. As it can be seen from every aspect Buddhism is based on balance.

In Buddhism killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying and intoxicants are all forbidden.

I think that it is not important to define Buddhism as a philosophy or religion. What is important is that all the notions it is based on and all the notions it guides people are rational. The all aim to create a better world for all beings, therefore whether you call it Christianity, Islam, Judaism or Buddhism the basics are all the same. I believe that you don’t even have to call it something if you follow certain moral values and try to be a better person for yourself and others.

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October 10, 2010 § Leave a comment

Shamanism is one of the oldest beliefs that is more concerned about the spiritual world than the human one. This means that it suggest the solution of every physical problem, illness is caused by a problem of the soul. The soul has to be fixed in order to achieve physical health. The “hurt” soul has to be fixed in order to maintain the balance between physicality and spirituality. The balance within a person also leads to balance within the society and that is what shamanism aims socially.

In shamanism it is believed that there is a duality of the soul. This means that people have two spirits. One stays in the body controlling the physical functions of an individual. The other one is the free spirit that can go in and out from the body; it is like the connection of each individual to the spiritual world. Because of this belief of duality of the spirits everything is related to the soul, physical illnesses are also related to the soul.

Shamans, who are like priests in shamanism, have the duty to guide people to achieve the balance. They guide lost souls, cure the hurt ones, neutralize the negative energy ruining the balance and try to maintain peace within the society. Besides these duties the shamans also carry certain traditional values from generation to generation and they lead the sacrifice ceremonies.

In prehistoric times shamans conducted religious rituals in caves where common people weren’t allowed to enter. They used to communicate with the spiritual world by cave drawings and engravings and they also used to draw their hallucinations, dreams, visions they experience while their connection to the spiritual world. This shows that the art of prehistoric times is mostly related with the religious rituals of the shamans.

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