The Human Alphabet

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There is arguably nothing more human than the alphabet, given that language, and particularly written language, often tops the list of qualities which distinguish our dear species most distinctly from others. To form the letters of these alphabets using the human body is then, perhaps, not so strange a leap, and, in fact, seems to be rather appropriate. In their own varied ways artists and scribes have been doing it for centuries. Below we’ve collected some highlights of the many twists and turns of the human font.

Varied, see sources.
Zoe Typelark / Io9 / Spamula.net / Sotirios Raptis
Underlying Work: PD Worldwide | Digital Copy: Varied, see sources.
Download: Right click on image or see source for higher res versions


Alphabeth de la Bourbonnoise
 human alphabet
Alphabeth de la Bourbonnoise (1789) — Source.

The Comical Hotch Potch, or The Alphabet turn'd Posture-Master, 1782 human alphabet
The Comical Hotch Potch, or The Alphabet turn’d Posture-Master (1782) — Source.

The Man of Letters or Pierrot's Alphabet (1794)
The Man of Letters or Pierrot’s Alphabet (1794) — Source.

Page from a Tudor pattern book, (ca. 1520) human alphabet
Page from a Tudor pattern book, (ca. 1520) — Source.

Peter Flötner's Human Alphabet
Peter Flötner’s “Human Alphabet” (1534) — Source.


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Pages from The Funny Alphabet (ca.1850) — Source.


Honoré Daumier's comic alphabet (1836) — Source.
Honoré Daumier’s comic alphabet (1836) — Source.

Page from the Horae ad usum Parisiensem (1475-1500)
Page from the Horae ad usum Parisiensem (1475-1500) — Source.

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Attributed to Lampridio Giovanardi (1811-1878), Anthropomorphic or Posture Master Alphabet (ca. 1860)Source.


Detail from above.
Detail from above.


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Part of the painted alphabet of Giovannino de’ Grassi (d. 1398) — Source.


Pages from Alfabeto in sogno (1683) by Giuseppe Maria Mitelli. The title translating as Dream Alphabet
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 Alfabeto in sogno (1683) by Giuseppe Maria Mitelli. The title translating as Dream Alphabet
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 Alfabeto in sogno (1683) by Giuseppe Maria Mitelli. The title translating as Dream Alphabet
.


Pages from Alfabeto in sogno (1683) by Giuseppe Maria Mitelli. The title translating as Dream Alphabet
Pages from Alfabeto in sogno (1683) by Giuseppe Maria Mitelli. The title translates as Dream Alphabet — Source.


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Choreographic interpretation of the letter “K”, photographed from the book Abeceda (1926) — Source.