Facebook Cover image

October 15th, 2012  |  Published in All Posts, Everything, Grafica 2, Graphica

I love designing cover images for Facebook, which are the exact size so you don’t have to move them around and decide which part you want to give up, and they have a little frame for the head.

In the series of FB cover images, I want to tell you a bit about my work process, and of course, show you the final results. I do it only after getting written permission from the legal owner of the work.

Thamar Eilam Gindin Is an Israeli Iranist and Iranian-linguist, who lectures about Iran to Westerners, and makes them realize Iran and the Islamic Republic are different entities, one thousands of years old and eternal, and one thirty-something years old and, well, not that eternal. This Facebook cover-image is part of her overall branding project.

In the cover photo I wanted to give an Iranian feeling, and enhance the Pre-Islamic side of her work.

Facebook cover image for Thamar E. Gindin, an Iranian linguist

The background and frame (here only upper frame), is traditional Iranian design. Iranian designs are soft, curvy and flowing. They are usually symmetrical and use symmetrical patterns and lot of floral themes and abstract shapes. It’s extremely rare to find polygons and straight lines in Iranian patterns (the frame is, of course, straight at the end). I broke the symmetry by the text and image inserted into this frame. Facebook helped me because the profile picture is on the side.

In the middle, the name “Thamar Eilam Gindin” is written in traditional Iranian Schekæste Næstæligh font (see my transcription for correct reading), imitating Iranian calligraphy.  You can read about the spelling in the post about her logo design.

The Pre-Islamic aspect is manifested in the fravahr symbol which appears on the left side just above the Dr’s head. You can read more about it in the post about Menovahr.

On the bottom right hand side is the most important thing in this whole cover image, in my mind. It encompasses all aspects: Iran, Iranian linguistics, Pre-Islamic Iran, and the Middle Persian Dictionary Project, of which Dr. Gindin has been a team-member for quite a long time. It’s the name “Thamar” in Book-Pahlavi script. Pahlavi was the script used to write Zoroastrian Middle Persian in pre-Islamic times. We contemplated between no less than 5 different ways to write this name.

These were the options:

Thamar in Pahlavi

Five ways to write one name in Pahlavi.

Pahlavi is written from right to left, so we will start from the leftmost one. The transliterations are:

tmr, tml, t’mr- , tmr, tml. (=aleph).

You may wonder howcome there are so many possibilities to write one name. That’s an excellent question. The Persian language has never had its own script, and in every period it adopted a different, usually Semitic, writing system, which is usually very problematic. Just like New Persian, which is written in Arabic script (which is totally unsuitable for it). Thamar, actually pronounced tæmægh in Hebrew, is written in Hebrew as תמר = tmr. vocalization marks, added centuries after the writing of the Bible, indicate two long ā vowels: תָּמָר. It can therefore be written in Pahlavi either without aleph, as in the Semitic script, or with two alephs, indicating two ā vowels.

The r-l issue is a bit more complicated: Many Indo European l‘s have turned into r in Indo-Iranian languages, e.g. Persian sorud “song”, is cognate with Russian slovo “word”. The reason almond-eyed people usually confused the two (flied lice, generar erections etc.) is because they only have one sound for both of them. Middle Persian probably had both, but still – they’re very similar.

Another thing you should know about Middle Persian is that it only has 14 letters to represent 20 consonants and 6 vowels. This means tons of homographs, or in other words – many phonemes share a letter. And I don’t mean just v/w, ō and ū sharing the letter w, or y, ī and ē sharing the letter y. These homographs exist too, but they are for the weak. I’m talking about hard core homographs like aleph=h=ch (as in German Hoch), or g=d=y, and if you double it it can also be s. The letter r shares a letter with no less than three other five other phonemes (three other letters, to be exact): w=n==r, and let us not forget that w also has more than one reading. No wonder the Pahlavi scribes preferred to use the letter l to write r. It’s less confusing!

So we have tml or tmr semitic style, or t’mr- (with an end-of-word marker) , tmr or tmwith the vowel marked. The form that was selected after consulting some experts including Prof. Shaul Shaked, one of the greatest Iranian linguists alive, was the last one. It’s the most Pahlavi of all options.

This is how it looks on FB:

Thamar E. Gindin, Facebook cover image screenshot

Thamar E. Gindin, Facebook cover image, screenshot with permission.

All my texts, pictures and graphics are licensed cc-by-nc-sa. You are welcome to share and make non-commercial use of them, as long as you give me proper credit and a link, and allow others to do the same. Contact me, here on the upper left side, if you want to make commercial use of the materials on the site, or if you would like me to be your personal, event or business photographer and/or graphic designer.

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