Tlilli tlapalli

David Wright dcwright at
Thu May 31 15:53:41 UTC 2001

Does anyone have any idea what could have been the reason Dibble and Anderson (Florentine Codex VI: 259) translated the metaphor "Intlil intlapal" as "their black, their red" rather than "their black, their colors"? The translation of "tlapalli" as "red" keeps cropping up in modern sources. I can't remember where all I've seen it; another example is in Garibay's vocabulary, in the Porrua edition of the Castillian text of the Florentine Codex; "Tlapallan" is translated as "Lugar del rojo". Molina (I, 27r; II 130v) makes it clear that "tlapalli" and the radical "tlapal-" refer to pigments for painting or dying in general, regardless of hue; the same is true of Sahagun (Florentine Codex XI: 245). Why red? The only possible explanation I can come up with is that "colorado, -a" in old Castillian was used for red, and retains this meaning today, especially in informal speech; this could have led to imprecise translations.

Comments regarding the deeper meanings of this metaphor, or possible modern survivals, would also be greatly appreciated.

Best regards,

David Wright
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