Abhaya Libre Typeface


Abhaya Libre is a text typeface designed for communications in Sinhala, Tamil and Latin scripts.

Abhaya Libre project aims to produce the most advanced and complete Sinhala font with coverage for complex representations in Sinhala, Pali and Sanskrit texts. In the true spirit of Libre Fonts movement Abhaya Libre project brought together existing projects and a group of designers to develop a coherent typeface. The project started off with the aim of liberating (open sourcing) FM Abhaya, the most popular Sinhala legacy-format-text-font by Pushpanada Ekanayake.

The drawings for the original FM Abhaya was based on the common text typeface used by the Department of Government Printing in the 1970s—1990s. The roots of this style relates to the modulation structure and aesthetics introduced to Sinhala script by the N J Cooray of the Cooray Type Foundry in the late 1800s. FM Abhaya font which had a limited glyphs set in ASCII encoding was redrawn and expanded into a family with five weights and more glyphs. Driven by rigorous research and community contributions, Abhaya Libre includes an extensive set of ligatures, alternates, stylistic alternates, historical ligatures and Opentype features to support proper representation of text in Sinhala, Pali and Sanskrit langauges.

The Latin characters, that match the aesthetics of ‘Abhaya Libre Sinhala’, which was inspired by the style of the original Sinhala with an eminent contrast between distinctive strokes that go from thick to thin and was further modified to co-exist with the visual logics of Latin typefaces. The ductus references according to the lines of a Didone typeface add a touch of Sinhala form to certain terminations. Large counters have been added along with small ascenders and descenders for optimized screen viewing.

The name ‘Abhaya’ comes after the King Abhaya (474 BCE to 454 BCE) who reigned Sri Lanka from the ancient kingdom of Upatissa Nuwara.