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About this Web Site

What:

This web site (which is still in its developmental phase) is dedicated to the study of the traditional booklore and book arts of the Russian Orthodox Church. This includes resources regarding the Church Slavonic languange and its writing and printing systems.

The prime focus will be directed at presenting 1) the various styles of traditional Slavonic calligraphy, handwriting and manuscript illumination; 2) typography, textual ornamentations, book binding, an overview of the history of printing, and computer fonts; and 3) an introduction to the Church Slavonic language and its historical literature. The student will be directed to additional resources on the Links page.

Another focus which I hope to present in the future is the musical notation of the Russian Church (both Znamenny Chant and the Square-note notations). I will be presenting a variety of fonts and some basic materials for how to read and typeset the notation.

Furthermore, there has been considerable disagreement about how to produce Slavonic fonts, including: establishing the full range or repertoire of characters to be included in the "character set" (sufficient to satisfy all typographers and most scholars), and how to encode these fonts and to set up keyboard drivers to access all the available symbols. There is a growing need to move away from the limited capability of earlier encodings (such as the Windows CP-1251 Cyrillic encoding, UCS-8 Slavonic encoding, and the myriad "home-made" or "legacy" font-specific encodings), and to adopt the universality of Unicode font encoding.

Who:

This web site was compiled by Nikita Simmons. I'm a Russian Orthodox Old Believer living in Oregon (USA), who has had a lifelong interest (or rather a passion) for preserving our traditional medieval Russian expression of religion and culture. I designed my first Slavonic font in 1983 (I've come a long way since then!), and continue to design more fonts based on manuscripts and early printed books. Some fonts will be available here for free download, while several others are still in production. I've also adapted several fonts created by other designers for use with Unicode, and in time (and with permission) I hope to offer these for download as well.

My overall goal as a professional typographer is to offer well-designed Church Slavonic fonts FREE to the members of the Orthodox Christian world, in hopes of promoting outstanding printed materials. In years past, the majority of fonts available (either for free or for sale) ranged from poorly to moderately well designed (some were completely hideous), but in recent years many new professional fonts have become available, which have finally acchieved a level of professional exellence (see Vladislav Dorosh's site irmologion.ru). Like my colleagues in Russia, I hope to offer several additional fonts of my own design in the hope that we may continue to see increasingly higher standards in quality for Church Slavonic texts in print. (At the very least I hope that someday we can all be happy that those earlier ugly font designs will no longer be used for printing books.)

Following that idea a bit further.... Orthodox Christianity has always encouraged its artisans (iconographers, architects, scribes and printers, musicians, etc.) to strive for excellence and to make the Church a taste of "heaven on earth". We offer our God-given talents back to God by creating the very best we have to offer, to the glory of God and His Church. When visitors come to our church or open one of our service books, they should be moved by what they see and inspired to learn more. My personal motto is: "Always strive for excellence in all things."