The Georgian Lari Sign

The National Bank of Georgia has just announced that the Georgian lari will now have its own symbol. It looks like the euro symbol rotated ninety degrees clockwise, but in fact it is based on a form of the Georgian letter L (ლ). There is no word on how long it is expected to take for the symbol to become widely used in Georgia or elsewhere. georgian lari symbol The symbol, designed by Georgian artist Malkhaz Shvelidze, was selected from a group of five symbols by a committee of bureaucrats who were “advised” by an online vote that was open to the public. Those five symbols were, in turn, chosen from several hundred submissions received during December 2013 and January 2014.

georgian lari symbol candidates

The winning symbol on the left, along with the four runners-up

One news report claimed the following:

The shortlisted designs are not obviously based on any letters in Georgia’s alphabet – which may be because the letters of the alphabet also each have a numerical value, which could have led to confusion if one were used as the currency symbol.

This is Orientalist trash. The author obviously didn’t know that the Georgian L has two varieties: the standard version with three humps, and a less formal version (sometimes called the “lazy L“) with only one hump. Seeking an explanation, he looked on Wikipedia and found out that there are numbers associated with Georgian letters. This made sense to him, given his background assumption that Georgians are strange and exotic people who would do weird things like use letters to count. (Actually, the two vertical “currency” lines can act to form extra humps on the L, so it can be interpreted both as the lazy and the full L, which is a neat feature of all five designs. This makes the blunder all the stupider.)

georgian lazy L sign

A sign featuring single-humped Ls

The National Bank of Georgia describes the winning design with typically tortured Georgian English:

Lari sign is based on graphic outline of Georgian one arched letter “L”(Lasi). According to the world experience with regard to various signs the first symbol of the sign is crossed by one or two parallel lines. It is notable that with regard to various currency signs addition of parallel lines is designed to transform a letter-mark into sign. In the Lari currency sign the two parallel lines crossed the Georgian (Lasi) are the organic parts of the letter. The so called “leg” of “LASI” represented by horizontal line is the necessary attribute of the sign and adds monumental statics to the upper dynamic arc. The outline of the letter-mark is transformed on purpose in the design in order to simplify its perception and implementation as a Lari sign.

It’s not a bad symbol. Nevertheless, it annoys me that I’m only now finding out that there was a contest. So I am hereby submitting two more designs for the committee’s consideration. The first is similar to the third symbol above except that the currency lines are horizontal. It looks like a backwards 7. It lacks “monumental statics” (I think). lari symbol proposal

The second is based on the asomtavruli L. asomtavruli lari symbol

I trust that the committee will make the right decision here.

By the way, did you hear that the Russian ruble also got its own symbol too back in December? Yeah, me neither. ruble symbol statue The new lari symbol comes complete with  planned obsolescence:

I would also like to say that there will definitely come a day when our country renounces its own monetary policy, and therefore will renounce its own currency. This will be day when we join Eurozone – the last stage of the Euro integration, which reflects our society’s will.

Hmm… See also:

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3 thoughts on “The Georgian Lari Sign

  1. I can’t remember where I saw it, but I saw it used somewhere here in Tbilisi the day it came out…and not on any propaganda either. I think(/hope?) it’ll be adopted here pretty quickly.

  2. Pingback: Turkish Money | georgiasomethingyouknowwhatever

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