RE: Chromatic font research

From: Marco Cimarosti (
Date: Thu Jun 27 2002 - 05:00:00 EDT

Michael Everson wrote:
> Marco said:
> >MC> However, the Aztec script uses color has a structural element:
> >MC> signs with the same design can mean different things if
> painted in
> >MC> different colors.
> Has it? Reference?

The best I can come up with from my private library is a single paragraph on
a book about the history of writing in general ("Storia universale della
scrittura" by Giorgio R. Cardona, Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, Milano 1986,
chapter XII "Le scritture del continente americano", 2 "Le scritture
mesoamericane", "Area azteca e olmeca", page 257):

        "Gli Aztechi attribuivano una grande importanza all'opposizione tra
i vari colori: i colori avevano per loro un significato simbolico ben
preciso e, come si č accertato solo in tempi molto recenti, erano usati
normalmente nelle rappresentazioni tridimensionali; era per esempio colorato
il tante volte riprodotto disco del calendario messicano, ora nel Museo
Nazionale di Antropologia di Cittā del Messico. Coerentemente, anche nei
logogrammi aztechi il colore costituiva un tratto significativo."
        (my translation: "Aztecs assigned great importance to color
oppositions: colors had for them a well defined symbolic meaning and, as was
proved very recently, colors were normally employed in three-dimensional
representations; for instance, color was used in the often-reproduced
Mexican calendar disc, now at the National Anthropology Museum in Mexico
City. Consistently, color was a meaningful feature also in Aztec

I also found a mention about this on the web ("Aztec Writing"
<>), although I don't know
how reliable the site is:

        "Color was also important. The signs for grass, canes, and rushes
look very much the same in black and white, but in color there could be no
mistake: in the Codex Mendoza grass is yellow, canes are blue, rushes green.
A ruler could be recognized at once from the shape of his diadem and from
its color, turquoise, which was reserved for royal use."

_ Marco

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