The Lay of Angor

Chroma

Colour has many familiar meanings in our culture: white for weddings, black for funerals; red for 'stop' or 'danger', green for 'go'; khaki, RAF and Navy blue for the military; pink for girls, blue for boys. The Gondarans use colour in the same way to some extent, with black/silver and green/gold as the royal colours of Gondarlan and Grunewald respectively, grey for the Druids and black for Archbishop Sigismund and his Brethren; but Angor is a far more strictly colour-coded society with a whole symbolic language called Chroma - which initially causes Princess Elinor a good deal of annoyance and confusion!

Chroma's roots date to the foundation of the Republic, as described in Breath of Gaia. People dress in particular colours so that their occupations can be recognised at a glance:

White (the product of every colour in the spectrum, or no colour at all): philosophers, teachers and students/children
Red (scarlet and crimson): military, warriors and Kalaia
Maroon: Tantric practitioners
Pink: Healers
Orange: su-Hai, earth workers - miners, builders, potters, glaziers, smiths etc
Yellow: numeracy, mathematicians, accountants
Brown: la-Hai, service workers (a practical colour which doesn't show dirt!)
Green: na-Hai, plant workers - farmers, gardeners, botanists, foresters
Ultramarine: water-workers and travellers - sailors, fishermen, geographers, merchants
Indigo: background colour of the national flag, often worn by the Elects (Sol-Lios and Lunaia)
Violet: priests of Naume, usually combined with grey (signifying mid-way between the white of Life and the black of Death)
Black: necro-Hai, death workers - morticians, grave-diggers, butchers, tanners, meat-chefs; also priestesses of Kali

Precious and semi-precious stones are used to display the same meanings, with gold and silver primarily used for the offices of Sol-Lios and Lunaia; chroma is also deployed in the field of pyroteknia, with different coloured fireworks used to send different signals.

Chromaglyphs: Inspired by Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, chromaglyphs are a form of writing in which the meaning of symbols and pictograms is modified by the colour of the ink - hence the same symbol can mean different things, depending on colour and context. For example, A is for Angor; A a green mountain or AA a mountain range; inverted, it is a merchant ship; in brown, a cow (or with dots over the horns, a bull); double inverted A, cattle or herd

V can signify: Grassy valley Rocky vally/mountain pass or pottery vessel Sailing vessel Warship Vulva VVV = water or river; VVV war or battle Inverted V means: Grassy hill Rocky hill Tidal wave Tent Military camp; with serif in black 'default' ink, the verb 'to walk', or in coloured ink a walking person, eg a marching warrior

Extra qualification given by the depth of colour used, with darker shades and bolder script indicating emphasis, age, expertise etc; for example, T is a mature tree, T a sapling or leafy plant

Virtually unknown outside Angor, chromaglyphs (painted or inlaid in coloured stones and precious metals) are used primarily for poetry and artistic inscriptions, and also for confidential foreign correspondence - as Loric discovers to his cost in Wolfsbane!

Elinor begins taking chromaglyph classes in Breath of Gaia, and one of her first exercises is to interpret
this symbol on the right; its pragmatic meaning is 'a white bull in a field', but she has to come up with a
more poetic way of putting it:

Elinor stared blankly. "Livestock at pasture - what poetry in that?" she asked herself. "Come on, girl, think... how might Prince Eduard describe it?" She closed her eyes, visualising the beast in his meadow, stolidly chewing his cud, switching his tail at the flies; scribbled a line on her wax tablet; considered a moment; then erased it with her thumb and started over.
"Time's up, class!" Athene surveyed her students. "So, who will speak first?"
Petronia held up a hand. "Milk white he doth not yield, sole lord of verdant field," she offered.
The Professor nodded approval. "You bring in the key elements, and make a good riddle to boot - well done, Petronia. Now then, who's next?"
Elinor listened to a dozen variations on the theme before tentatively proffering her tablet.
"Snowy bull standing four-square and massive, alone midst the emerald grasses," Athene read aloud. "Hmm... I like your half-rhyme, and the rare adjective. Bear that in mind, everyone... there are more things white in the world than milk and chalk!" She returned the tablet. "Excellent interpretation - I could scarce put it better myself."

chroma 001
chroma 3

On the right is an example of a chromaglyph sentence, with the meaning of the glyphs given below. In Prosaic mode, this could be rendered, 'In the morning, the farmer (sex indicated by the crimson drop) led her cow (if the symbol for 'farmer' preceded 'cow', it would mean 'drove' or 'herded') through the field of trees to the brook' (a small body of water indicated by the pale blue colour and thinness of line).

Morning; cow; farmer (female); field containing trees; water

This could be elaborated in Poetic mode, for example: 'By the light of Sol rising, the na-Hai led her cow through the green wooded meadow to drink at the tinkling stream'. No symbol is required for the verb 'to drink', it being a reasonable assumption that this is the farmer's intention in taking her cow to water. Similarly, no symbol is required for 'tinkling' - the Poetic mode is open to wide interpretation, and any appropriate adjective, such as 'babbling' or 'gurgling' could be employed. It is not, however, a wide or fast-flowing stream (in which case a thicker line would be used for emphasis). If the inscription was inlaid in stone, the half-sun would be rendered in gold, and silver could be used for 'water' to supply an extra adjective, 'silvery stream'. As Elinor abserves in Breath of Gaia, it is an economical script!

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