This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Clifford C. Richey February 2010 Revised May 2012
Illustration 1: Illustration Credit: Donna McClelland
The paper was revised due to new understandings related to Form and especially the sensitivity of the compositions to the Position of the various signs. Despite some changes the overall theme of the composition remains unchanged. For more information related to the rules of composition please see: http://www.scribd.com/doc/85335148/Native-American-WrittenSign-Language
Illustration 2: Form, A Bottle Shaped Container
The overall Form of the vessel, upon which the Coca Chewers scene was depicted, is one of a bottle gourd. Prior to the use of pottery, gourds were used for an untold number of years for all manner of containers, such as cups, ladles, bowls, and other vessels. Later, when pottery was introduced, it would have been natural to continue using the familiar form of the gourd and its attached metaphorical and or cosmological connotations. The overall shape of this vessel is one of a bottle gourd with an upright stem. Gourd stems are hollow and metaphorically, may have represented the umbilical cord from the parent (plant) to the child (the fruit). The vessel, itself, represented the earth-female as a container of seeds, a hole, the vagina, and a tunnel or tube (the uterus) that led into a cave of the underworld (the ovaries of the earth-female). The seeds may have been likened to the bodies of the deceased that were placed (planted) in the earth. Seeds have the ability to germinate or sprout, rising up through the earth to its surface. This allowed another analogy to be used comparing this to the “planting” of deceased persons in the earth and their resultant spiritual ascension.
Illustration 3: Vessel Sub-forms
The Form (green) of the Handle of this vessel is one that signifies a cavern or cave. If the outside of the Handle is also considered as a second line then the Double Lined meaning would be a, hidden or unseen cave. The rather Egg shaped Form (blue) of the lower portion of the vessel indicates, the great unborn one. The Spout (red) is a hole that leads down into the cave. There is a “V” shape at the bottom of the Spout that indicates, an opening. The outline of the Spout (red) could also be considered as Double Lined so the meaning would have been, a hidden or unseen pathway (the Throat of the Vessel). These initial signs provide us with the setting of the composition. The Location Of The Unseen Opening The Unseen Cave (Metaphorically, the womb of Earth-woman) The Hole That Leads to It (Metaphorically, Earth-woman's uterus) Below, The great one, Unborn.
Illustration 4: Overall Form of the Composition: The Breasts, The Hills
Overview: The Form of this composition is one of (tan) Breasts or the hills of the earth-female. The Breast on the left has two holes (as viewed from the side) in its outline. The right breast has an Undulating Line for movement on its side. The scene or setting depicted is one of Three (indicating, the many) seated Figures taking something from gourds with a stick and placing it within their mouths. There is a Fourth Figure standing with his hands raised and slightly apart as if letting something go or possibly making the gesture sign to be released.
The seated Figures have been described by Christopher Donnan1 as coca chewers. Lime is taken from a gourd with a spatula and placed in the mouth along with chewed coca leaves. The resulting mixture of saliva, lime, and the leaves releases the coca with a mildly stimulating effect. The three Figures are thus involved in a transaction and it is this transaction, as we shall see, that explains the ritual or pageant that they are engaged in. The largest image in this glyph is that of earth-woman. Her Body (reddish brown) stretches across the bottom of the composition and provides the baseline or ground surface for the other signs. This is a very important composition for students of written gesture signs because it is rare that earth-woman was presented in such a graphic manner. We can also clearly see the (blue) Serpent (a stream, in this case, of subterranean water). This Undulating Serpent's body (the sign for moving or motion upwards and downwards in relation to the earth's surface). The Serpent's Mouth is positioned just under her stomach which by its enlargement may indicate a metaphorical pregnancy. The Stomach may also have been considered a hill on the earth's surface so it would be appropriate that the Mouth of the Serpent terminates there. The Curved Form of the Serpent's Mouth indicates the sign for, held as in a bowl. This probably refers to a spring fed pool of water. A Mouth, any mouth, means a water-source. Here we, very graphically, see the water-source, beneath the hillside that alludes to hillside springs or water seepage. It was such areas that were considered to be cosmologically important because such water surged up from the underworld bringing the spirits of the deceased to the earth's surface. The moisture that is being released from the Breast (hill) is below or covered by what could be thought of as a Two Headed Serpent. Such Imagery might have been intended to indicate a rainbow of moisture (the Black Dots combined with the Triangular female-spirit (green) means, moisture composed of spirits rising up from the face of the earth. Moisture (numerous moisture-spirits) in the air could have been viewed in such areas as around waterfalls and then described in terms of Associational Imagery as a Two Headed Serpent or a Rainbow Serpent. But it is a bit troubling that this Rainbow Serpent appears in a composition that is so heavily slanted toward darkness and nighttime. Later in this paper it will be learned why this was not a contradiction. So far we have read a lot about a water-source but where is this water coming from? We have to look at the Circle (locational) sign that is between the Breasts (hills) of Earth-woman. Also we should note the (blue-green) Serpent (the stream) beneath the Breast of Earth-woman. Now we have the Imagery of Two Hands (black) making a sign with the Fingers (blue). Tomkins2 states, “Make the sign for water then with thumbs and index fingers form a circle in front of the body; then, still holding left in position, bring compressed right under the circle, fingers held under thumb; then release them with a snap to indicate a bubbling spring. Repeat last movement.” Here we can easily see that the same right hand is used twice (repeated) in the imagery. The lines above the hands indicate the snapping fingers. We now better understand why a spring on a hillside was considered significant to Native Americans. The hillside springs were viewed as portal or gateways for the spirits making their flight to the sky.
Donnan, Christopher. Moche Art of Peru. University of California, Museum of Culture History, Los Angeles. 1978 Tomkins, William Indian Sign language,Dover publications, New York, N. Y. 1969. p. 52-53
Illustration 5: Color Coded We will now look at the Three (meaning, many) Figures Sitting (meaning, waiting) on the Body of Earth-woman. The clothing of all three Figures are in the Form of a Dog's Head. The Dog is either the sign for a prophecy or a prophet. It is not yet clear how one makes this distinction but since all three Figures have the same Form of clothes we will go out on a limb and consider these Figures to be engaged in demonstrating a prophecy. Therefore they were likely to have been viewed as prophets. It is thought that the Bat imagery represents the spirits of deceased Moche leaders. Once released, the spirits fly out of their caves like so many bats. The Sitting Figures (waiting) are, apparently, engaged in a ritual or pageant that, precedes and forecasts, the release of the Bat spirits. The above non-linear composition is quite complicated. While were able to tease out some of the general ideas it contains it is not so easy to present these concepts in their proper order or entirety. We will try to summarize the composition's message as best we can while recognizing that the written gesture system was very subtle and many of the metaphors, associations, or cosmological concepts may escape us. This composition provides us with the information that the Earth was perceived as a female vessel, a container whose holes in the surface and tunnels leading to caves were analogs with the vagina, uterus, and womb. Her breasts were viewed as hills and her legs as other parts of the earth's surface. The deceased members of the culture were likened to seeds planted in the earth. The original vessels, before pottery, were gourds that naturally contained seeds and this concept was probably carried over to the later ceramic vessels. The original gourd – earth concept is probably most clearly viewed in the coca stick as compared to a planting stick where the seeds were planted, watered, until they sprouted and ultimately blossomed (see the Standing Figure's headdress). The traditional use of the gourd in the coca ritual was probably maintained long after the invention and use of pottery. The Earth-woman metaphor continued with the use of ceramic vessels as they were often formed in the shape of a female and in the case of this particular vessel, Earth-woman's body was clearly painted upon it. The idea of seeds within the vessel is seen in the Standing Figure's container with seeds shown on its sides and the Plant found in his Headdress. Artesian water was depicted as a Serpent within the body of Earth-woman moving up and down in relation to the surface of her body indicating the movement of the varying levels of underground water. We can see that the Serpent's mouth was deliberately positioned beneath one of Earth-woman's breasts so it corresponded to springs found on
hillsides. We even note that the water seepage found at the base of mesas was a place where spirits could be found. In this composition we find people engaged in a ritual or perhaps a pageant related to waiting at earthwoman's navel the center of the earth (a cosmological or ceremonial center) for the prophesied release of the spirits from the cave or womb of the earth. These spirits were identified as Bat spirits, that may have been deceased Shaman, or a Clan lineage who upon release, come flying from their cave like so many bats in the evening. This event may have had some connection with the timing of the western rising of Venus because this event appears in the darkness. We will now move on to the rather detailed revision of the Coca Chewers composition.
Illustration 6: The Two Headed Serpent The Two Headed Serpent portion of the composition is difficult to understand. We know that Serpent Imagery indicates a stream of water. But here it appears to be, positionally, arched over the body of the earth-female. The Serpent has Fox Heads or Faces that mean, their wondrous appearance. One Head was positioned on the Left and the other on the Right. This placement provides us with the (gesture signing) directions east and west. The Triangular Black Dots are in the Form of female-spirits and the abundance of Dots represents, moisture (particles of water). The arc of the Serpent's Body might be mistaken for the sky-arch sign except that these female-moisture-spirits would not appear in the malesky. The arch of the Serpent's Body therefore must, logically, have been depicted as in the middleworld or just above the surface of the earth. It seems likely that this Serpent is a kind of Rainbow Serpent that represented a stream of water particles arching over the earth from east to west.
Illustration 7: The Rainbow Serpent What is disconcerting about the above is that the Serpent’s Body is black indicating darkness, The Body of the earth-female is also black and thus in the darkness. Also the depiction of Bats in the composition points to darkness or nighttime. There is another sign that is arched and that is the sign for covered or a covering. This would seem to be a better fit than what we though might be the sky-arc sign. So we would now read, covered in darkness. What is covered is the Figure standing in a rather awkward backward leaning position (see inset). The Figure's Stance was based on the Form of the sign (red) for, arising. The (green) Horizontal Line was added to indicate the surface. This was often added to the sign to provide the proper orientation. Such a line would not have been needed in this composition because we have the underlying imagery of the earth-female's Body to provide the correct orientation for the arising sign. The great one (relative size) arising from the surface of the earth. At this point we should also note the subterranean stream or the Serpent of the underworld within the Body of the earth-female. Many Native American cultures saw a Rabbit in the Moon as opposed to some present cultures that tend to see a Man in the Moon. The Rabbit appears to have been the associative Imagery that indicated the moon. We can can find the Image of a Rabbit (brown) with its Head and long Ears touching the Two Headed Serpent Imagery. Now the references to darkness and Bats make more sense in terms of the Rainbow Serpent Imagery. The Two Headed Serpent does indeed depict a Rainbow Serpent albeit a Lunar one –a Nighttime Rainbow. The Serpent's Body surrounded by female-moisture-spirits “drank” from the east and west. This act was replicated by the Figures sitting on the surface, hills, and mesas of the earth. The first Figure is placing a stick into a gourd (metaphorically the earth). The second Figure is raising the stick between the two black Circles (the two, dark locations), while the third Figure places the material from the earth (lime) into his Mouth (a water-source). Next to the second Figure is a Bag or a container (the bag is shaped like a vessel). The arising-one Figure under the Rainbow Serpent also has an even larger Bag that contains a series of Bean like seed pods. The seedpods were an analog for the spirits of the deceased Moche. The Bags probably contained coca leaves which were placed in the mouth and chewed and then lime taken from the gourd (metaphorically the earth) which assisted in releasing the coca from the leaves proving a mildly stimulating reaction. Coca is still used to this day, in the same manner as illustrated here, by the native people of Peru. The (red) Triangular Form and Imagery seen in the composition was used as a way or orienting the reader to the earth-female. This will be discussed further at the appropriate junctions.
We see the Images of Three Bats (the number three was shorthand for, the many). One Bat is bound to the Figure by a Noose around its neck. This was the sign for a captive. The other two Bats have apparently broken loose from their captivity. Thus the main focus of this composition relates to a cosmological event related to the release of the captive spirits of the deceased Moche from the underworld. In fact the Large Bag held by the arising Figure has, at its base, the black sign for the dark underside or the dark underworld. The Bats Imagery may indicate members of a lineage but may have been shaman or medicine (in the sense of mysterious power) persons. There are also Three, human, Figures Sitting (waiting) depicted in the composition meaning, the ones, the many, waiting on the hills. The number three being shorthand for, the many. They are looking toward the Figure arising in front of them. They are therefore waiting for the arising of the spirit(s) of deceased member(s) of their society. Now we will turn our attention to the Face (her appearance) of earth-female or the face of the earth.
Illustration 8: The Face of the Earth The Face of the earth-female, meaning her appearance, The Head of the Serpent enters the earthfemale at the position where her Eye would normally be present. Instead of an Eye there is a Circle with a dark or black Center. This is the sign for a hole in the surface of the earth-female. We must add the allusion to the Eye to the message that was presented. The Eye is the Eye of the Sun which was a metaphor for Venus. The hole sign also creates another Eye which is the Eye of the (blue) Bird whose Neck darker blue) and Head was depicted. The Bird's neck was composed of a Severed Finger pointing a direction, here. The Finger points to the hole sign. The Beak (yellow) or the Mouth of the Bird (meaning, flight)is the sign for a water-source or a water-hole. The Beak is in the Form (yellow) of a Vertical Rectangle indicating a vertical-place (a place that has depth or height). Below this sign is a small Circle (white) that indicates numerically, the one and also the sign for a location. The Ear (an allusion to the orifice or hole of the ear) was Formed with an upside down “V” sign indicating, helddown on (positional) the surface. The Mouth of the Serpent (the Mouth of the Serpent, a water-source, the mouth of the stream). Its Teeth (the multiple doorway or portal signs) that “drink” (stance) up the Eye (Venus) held down on the Face of the earth-female. We must now assemble all this non linear information into a linear English message: The wondrous Rainbow Serpent, the wondrous stream, Surrounded by Female-moisture-spirits, Feeding in the holes, In the east and the west, The location, The places,
Of The Eye of the Sun, Venus. At The water-source, With Its multiple portals. These holes are water-holes or springs from which the Rainbow Serpent “drinks” up (Stance) the spirits.
Illustration 9: The Growth on the Face of the Earth
We find two Plants on the Face of the earth. They appear to be spiny like Cacti. Cacti Imagery would appear to refer to pain or hardship, The left most plant is a single stemmed growth that is topped by a Bud that was composed from the Diamond shaped sign for, held in on all sides or contained. The Stem of the Plant is (positionally), below. At its base are its Roots (its beginnings). The Roots are in the Form of Legs and Feet indicating long journeys, left and right or east and west. The spines of the plant are in the Form of the “V” shaped opening sign. There are nine of these signs indicating the nine levels of the underworld. Contained below, opening up the nine levels of the underworld. The growth, the fertility, on the face of the earth. The pain, Contained, Within the openings, The nine levels, The long dark journeys, below. The second Plant is more difficult to translate. It is a three lobed Cacti (pain or hardship) like Plant that was composed in the Form of a Bird (flight). There is the possibility that the Plants also represented growth and fertility –a sprouting of the seeds on the face of the earth. We are aware of Cacti Imagery in Moche pottery scenes of cosmological battles so it may be that all of the above meanings were intended. The series of Spines seems to create a ladder effect (climbing?). The overall Imagery appears to resemble a Centipede, the multiple legged one or in terms of the meaning of legs and feet, the multiple journeys. The Centipede's Rounded Heads are the black Half Circle that indicated, the darkupper world.
The second Plant can be broken down into two major signs, The “V” shaped opening sign, and within it is found the Curved, arising sign. The Roots of the Plant or its beginnings form the Feet of the Bird while the dark (black) Leg and Foot mean the long journey, positional, below. There are some other small signs in the details of the Roots but they cannot be seen very well due to the resolution of the illustration. The Stance of the Bird Form is one with its Legs on the ground (not flying) so it is awaiting its arising-flight. The growth, the fertility, on the face, of the earth-female, The great pain, the great hardhip. The great flight, Down into the opening, The long dark journey Turning below, The multiple journeys, Awaiting, The many climbs, Upwards, In the darkness. Below and to the right of the Rabbit (brown) Form we see the Imagery of a Bat. Exactly what the Bat represented has not yet been determined but it seems to have had some relationship to medicine (medicine, used in the Native American sense of a mysterious power) and herbalists or shaman. There is also the possibility that the Bat represented a Clan or Medicine Society.
Illustration 10: The One Awaiting Flight and The Fledgelings
Illustration 11: The Bat The (red) female-earth sign is seen between the Cord or Noose (a sign for a captive) which binds it or attaches it the Dog Form (prophecy) of the Figure's clothing.. Although difficult to discern in the illustration, the Cord was composed of a multitude (innumerable?) Rectangular place signs. The space between the Cord was the Triangular (red) sign for the earth-female. This positions the innumerableplaces as on the sides of the earth. The Form of the Bat's Head is a Circle indicating, the one, his location sign. His Face, his appearance on the sides of the earth.. Note that the Heads of the other two Bats are not circular but rather in the Rounded (glans-penis) shape of the male-spirit sign. The Ears (alluding to, holes-on-the side) are relatively large and in the Form of the side sign. The ears are on each side of the head, left and right indicating, holes in the east and west surfaces of the earth. The two Eyes (positional) refers to the Eye(s) of the Sun (Venus) in the east and the west. This leads us to consider the possibility that the Bat Imagery might have also alluded to the erratic flight of Venus as compared to the other, straight flying, stars in the night sky. The Eyes are (black) Circles indicating the locations, the ones, in the darkness. The Eyes were positioned over and above the Mouth (the watersource) and made in the Form of a straight line, the surface of the earth. The Body of the Bat was composed in the Form of a Finger pointing the direction, downward, here. And positioned below the Bat's Head or Face (his appearance). His appearance, the one, his location, below. Beneath the Bat's Head is a (light green) horizontal-place sign and within it, two (black) Circles indicating the, horizontal-place of the two in the darkness. Further below are Three (the many), light green, Square (houses) signs. The many houses, the many abodes of the two in the darkness. Finally, at the bottom we see the Rounded (light blue) male-spirit sign. This tells us that the two are really one and the same male-spirit. The two (red) Triangles tell us that the bat-spirit is positioned between the sides of the earth. The Bat's (human) Hands indicates that these are the Hands of the Sun, the stewards of the Sun or Sun-priests. They are also located (positionally) in the east and west, The Fingers are doorway or gateway signs and lead to the pronounced (black) Curved signs that mean, in the darkness, held as in a bowl. This held sign was compounded with the (green) horizontal-place sign. Further down we see more horizontalplaces signs indicating, positionally, places in the east and west. All the Bat Imagery is essentially the same except for the Form of their heads and the Cords around the Necks are broken (released from captivity) of the Bats on the right (in the west).
The captive one, Of the prophecy, His appearance, On the sides, the two-ones, (the twins?) The Eye(s) of the Sun, Venus, In the darkness, Over the land's surface, The Hands, The stewards, In the upper world, on the sides, The places that, Hold as in a bowl on the sides. The great one, Here, below, Within, The vertical-places The two-ones, (the twins?) The Eye(s) of the Sun, Venus, In the darkness, Everywhere. The male-spirit, Between, The sides, Of the earth, The center.
Illustration 12: The Three Birds To the right of the Bat Imagery we see Three (the many) Birds (blue) meaning flight. The Birds are not immediately recognized because they were composed from the space between other Forms. Further they were composed as compound Forms so their depiction is quite complicated for something that is nearly subliminal to a present day observer. There is one, Larger, or Mature Bird looking or facing upwards (Stance) and two Young Birds with wide open Mouths. (sources of water). The Stance of all the Birds is one of Sitting (waiting or awaiting). Next to the Young Bird on the left is a (tan) Severed
Finger (above right) whose Stance is in the Form of the “V” shaped sign for an opening. The Finger is pointing the direction, here at the “V” shaped opening sign positioned at the Bird’s Mouth, the watersource. The fledgling, waiting to fly, here, at the water-source. The other (white) signs are vague but may be another Finger pointing into the second Young Bird's Mouth while the rounded shapes may be hill signs (as viewed from the side). These signs are covered by the (black) sign for covered indarkness. The Bird Forms each have the (black) Legs and Feet of the Figure on their sides. The long walk or journeys (positionally) in the darkness below. As we have noticed, there is much more emphasis on position in these ancient compositions than would be of concern in the English language of today. This may be due, at least partially, to the structure of many of the Native American languages but it is also helpful in gaining an orientation in a sign language composition. Interpretation of the Large Bird:
Illustration 13: Compound Forms Awaiting, The great flight, Upward. The earth-female, below her, the vertical-place, A holding-place, here, below A female-earth, Horizontal-place, below.
In terms of the Large Bird we feel on fairly safe ground when breaking down the compounded Forms from which it was composed. The Small Birds are problematical in this regard so they will not be translated except to point out that their internal Form was somewhat mandated by the lines that make up their external Form. For example, the (red) lines of the bodies are the signs for ascending while the (blue) lines are the signs for far-below. In any event much of this composition is redundant as we are already clear that the concept was one of awaiting flight from below the earth up to the water-source on the surface.
Illustration 14: The Standing Figure While we are now focusing our attention mainly on the Standing or arising Figure we also note the commonalities with the Sitting (waiting) Figures. All the Figures profile faces have a (orange) single but not in profile, Eye (the Eye of the Sun, or Venus). All the Figures have a (reddish brown) Round Vessel (the earth metaphor) at the Neck. All have an Ear (alluding to a hole on the side) and a Triangular (earth-female) sign (yellow) spatially compounded with the Vessel Imagery that creates a rough Image of a Bird (flight). All the Figures have clothing that is in the Form of what appears to be a Dog's Head (a prophecy or a prophet). All the Figures are related to stick and gourd Imagery in one manner or another. All the Figures have Headdresses albeit composed of different Imagery and Form. If one of the spatially compounded Bird-Vessel Forms is explained then we explain them all. As mentioned at the beginning of this paper the Vessel was a metaphor for the earth-female, a container. The Body of the Vessel was positioned over the Body of the Figures while its Neck or Throat was
positioned over the Throat (a tube or tunnel) of the Figures, The Mouth (a water-source) of the Vessel is followed by the Ear (light tan) of the Figures and alludes to a hole on the side of the Head or Face. The Ear forms the Head of the Bird and is itself depicted as a Bean like seed. The Seed is roughly an on the side sign and composed of a smaller such sign positioned at the radicle (that part of the seed from which the roots emerge). A curved line stems from the radicle and is the form of, moving or taken downward, The seed taken down in the hole on the side of the earth. This was, of course, a metaphor made between a plant seed and deceased human bodies both considered as having a spirit that once involved with underground water rises to the surface of the earth. The seed and the human body both appear dormant or dead but have the ability to be reborn. The Beak of the Birds are positioned on the Face (Cheek) and are the (yellow) sign for earth-female. Of course the beak of a Bird is also its Mouth (a water-source). In the case of the standing Figure the (yellow) female sign is actually placed in the position of the Figure's Mouth and makes up its Imagery. In all cases the Faces of the Figures are black (darkness) and the Eyes (Venus) are thus surrounded by darkness. The message appears to be something akin to: The Flight of the seed into the water-source, taken down the side of the earth. Venus surrounded by darkness. If we add the Great (relative size) to Dog Form of the Figures clothing to this message we obtain: The great prophecy of the flight of the seed (spirit) into the water-source, taken down the side of the earth.
Illustration 15: The One Arising The Clothing of the Figure (light green) that we have determined earlier is in the Form of a Large Dog's Profile Head (the great prophet or great prophecy). The internal Squares are the signs for innumerable houses or abodes. The (black) center Dot represents a hole. The hole-house may have been based on the idea of a Snake Serpent's hole which would be its house or abode. There are Five (black) Circles on the clothing which may refer to a Bead Necklace in terms of the overall Scene Imagery. In terms of the signs, the Circles represent Five locations (the number for the four directions plus one indicating a kind of shorthand for the center.) The Center was positioned under the Body of the Vessel, earth-female, thus making the message, the center of the earth, the flight...etc. The Ear (the hole on the side) taken downward. The Long (black) Hair of the Figure was drawn in the Form of a Whale meaning, the greatdiver. The Stripes on its body are four, Rectangular, horizontal-place signs forming levels. The Number
Four indicating the four directions or short hand for, all over or everywhere. The black of the Whale's Body indicates, surrounded in darkness. Next to the Whale Form is a Large Hand in the Form of a Fist which may indicate held. The Great (relative size) Hand of the Sun (great steward of the Sun or a Sunpriest). The Eye, (Venus) surrounded by darkness. The one arising, The great prophecy, The innumerable abodes, At the throat, the tunnel, The center of the earth, The flight to the water-source, The Eye of the Sun, Venus, Contained in the darkness, The Seed, the spirit, Taken down ward, From the hole on the side, The great dive, Downward, In the darkness, The horizontal places --the levels, Everywhere, The Hand of the Sun, the steward, Held, Taken upward to the surface. We will now focus on the Standing Figure's Headdress. The center of the headdress is basically a (black) Vertical Rectangle that indicates a, dark-vertical-place. The curve of the Thumb Line of the Great Hand is the sign for taken upward. The (black) sign next to the Vertical-place sign is the sign for side and it was positioned as on-the-side.
Illustration 16: The Sprouting From the side and surface of the dark vertical-place we see the Leaves of a Seedling (the one that sprouts). The (green) Veins of the Leaves indicate the Three Lined sign for an unseen-pathway. From the center of the seedling there is a (blue) arising sign that terminates at the Straight Line for the surface that is on (positionally) the (red outline) Triangular earth-female sign. The (tan) sign created by the Space around the Seedling appears to be a Severed Finger pointing the direction, here, at the center of the Plant. The Tan area around the black side sign is Oval in Form which indicates all or everything
–everything on the side of the earth, The center of the Plant is in the Form of a (black) Triangular earth-female sign. Sprouting from unseen pathways (the Leaves left (east) and right (west) at the dark center of the earth, arising to the surface of the earth. These compound signs Form the Imagery of a Stem (arising sign) and a Flower Bud. The Flower has not yet blossomed which was the term used when the spirit of the deceased ascended from the earth to the sky. The dark vertical-place, Of the seedling, the sprouting, The leafing, The unseen pathways, In the east and west, The arising, To the earth's surface, the budding, Everything, At the center of the earth. The (black) Fan (the meaning of the Fan Form is not known) with its Curved edge forming the arising sign (meaning, arising in the darkness) shaped sign appears to have a small Hand and two small Circles (tan) that are next to the Large Fist shaped Hand. The Hand of the Sun, the Two, (the steward(s) of the sun) arising in the darkness. There are ten levels to the darkness, the nine levels of the underworld plus the level of the earth's surface. Meaning, The steward of the Sun, arising through the nine levels of the underworld to the earth's surface, in the darkness. The Hand of the Sun, the steward, The two dark locations, the one(s) above and below Arising, Through the nine levels, On the side of the earth.
Illustration 17: Releasing the Spirits
In the above illustration we see the Figure with his (black) Hands separating from each other in the Stance of letting something go –releasing. To the left of the Right Hand we see the (tan) Form of a Foot (a walk or journey). Attached to the Foot and from the position of the Nose (dual holes) we see the Shepherd's Crook meaning to taking something upward on-the-side (positional). The Mouth of the Figure also connects to the Foot indicating a water-source. Directly above the Foot is the Triangular (Form) of an earth female-spirit. The multiple (black) Dots of the spirits indicates moisture in the darkness. The Foot is also positioned on the upper side of the vessel meaning a walk on the side of the earth-female. Taken up wards, On the side of the earth, From the holes, The water-source, The female-moisture-spirits, Their journey, On the side of the earth.
If one looks closely at the Hands one can see that the Thumbs are in the Form of Seed-pods that match the Form of the Seedpods within or on the Bag below. The Wrist of the right Hand is in the Form of a dark-vertical-place compound sign. The left Hand is the hole sign as viewed from the side. There appear to be more signs related to the Hands but they cannot be seen well enough to determine their meaning. But there can be little doubt that the meaning of the Stance of the Hands is one of releasing the spirits from their captivity. The Form of the Bag is in the Form of a Vessel, a container and metaphorically the earth. As mention above the bag is a Container of Seed-pods (each Pod containing two Seeds to maintain the metaphor of Venus as the twin star or the two-united-as-one. The Pods also Form the sign for a flow and the space between the seedpods is in the Form of the sign for water. The contents of the Bag are between two Lines which indicates that they are unseen. The Bottom on the Bag is the (black) sign for the underside or the under-world.
Unseen within the earth, The twin-seeds (Venus), Within the flowing waters, Of the dark underworld. The Handle (positionally) above of the Bag is a Large (great) “U” shaped turning sign composed of place signs in black (darkness) and white (light). The great turning, Above, In the places, Of darkness and light.
Within the Handle of the Bag is the Gourd containing lime and the stick used to take the lime up from the contents of the Gourd (the earth) and place it within the Mouth (the water-source). The Gourd is a compound sign composed from the (black) horizontal-place sign and a (black, darkness) side-place sign (positional) below. The Stick connects the surface or Mouth of the Gourd to the moisture-spirits overhead by crossing through the places of darkness and light. This mimics the behavior of the three Figures to the right as they take up the lime from the “earth” and place it in their Mouths (the watersource) to mix with the chewed coca leaves and the saliva of their mouths. The great turning, Over the earth-female, The places of light and darkness, The crossing through. To the right of the Bag is a large Gourd (the earth-female) and Stick Form that is positioned, on-theside. The Stick (green) represents the earth's surface while the (black) Vertical Rectangle represents a dark-vertical-place, a place of height or depth depending on context. The Curved sides (blue) of the vertical-place sign indicate a vertical-place of arising both left (east) and right (west).
The earth's surface, On its side, A dark vertical place, A place of arising, In the east and west. Below the Gourd on the side we find two Bats also, on the side. These Bats (possible medicine, mysterious power, society members or herbalists) have apparently broken free of their bonds and captivity as spirits. This may, in terms of the agricultural metaphor, reflect seed coverings (endosperm) having become moist from the moisture of the earth and the beginning of germination. It is noteworthy that each of the three Bats in the composition have different Head Forms. The single Bat at on the left has a Circular Head (the location, the one), the upper Bat on the Right has an Egg (the unborn) Shaped Head while the lower Bat on the right has the Rounded male-spirit Head (based on the glans-penis). The Bats have Human Hands and Arms (the stewards and warriors of the Sun or warrior-priests). There are four (light green) horizontal-place signs meaning, horizontal-places everywhere. Each place sign has two (black) Dots within it (indicating, the two --Venus). Beneath the lower Bat are (red) earthfemale signs connected by a Curved Line (held as in a bowl) between the sides of the earth-female. On the earth's dark side, The warrior-priests, The mysterious power spirits, Released, The unborn, The male spirits, The Hands of the Sun,the stewards, Their places everywhere. Held Between the sides of the earth, As in bowls.
Illustration 18: The Three, The Many Hands of the Sun In this section of the composition we see the use of intervening Space as Form. In many instances the rule seems to be that some Form and Imagery must provide, at least, three sides in order for the Form to be recognized. Because we do not know what the ancient composer intended we may not always recognize such Form. Obviously, there may well be Forms in this composition that are not recognized so some details of the composition's message may be missing. On the far left there is a (gray) female-moisture-spirit Form. At the Ear of the Serpent's Head and the Ear of the spirit there is the “V” shaped held-down sign that positionally alludes to the orifices or holes of the Ears. Within the Ear is the (light blue) Form of a Water Drop (a particle of water). The ghost like spirit Form arises from the Mouth (a water-source) of the Serpent (the stream) and its Chin stems from the (light gray) Bowl like Form positionally below it. This tells us that the spirit of the deceased warrior-priest was metaphorically perceived as being quite tiny as within a Water Drop within the holes on the sides of the earth. Below the Bowl shaped Form and the bottom of the Gourd (yellow brown) in the Figure's Hand, is the relatively Large Form of a Bean like Seed. The Bean was also positioned at the Mouth (water-source) of the Dog Form that composes the Figure's clothes. This is a compound sign composed of the (black, darkness) on the side sign followed by a (green) vertical-place sign and a larger (light green) vertical-place sign that has four small Dark Circles within it (in the darkness of the four directions or all over, everywhere). This sign was positioned on the side of the (red) earth-female sign. The female-spirit, The water particle, Held down in the holes, On the side of the earth, Arising, From the mouth of the stream, The water source,
Arising from a bowl, On the side of the earth. The great one That will sprout, At the vertical-place, The water-source, The places everywhere, On the side of the earth.
Illustration 19: First Sitting Figure The Stance of the First figure is one of Sitting (waiting) and one Hand (positioned, above) has placed the, presumably, wet stick from the saliva of his Mouth (water-source) into the Gourd (the earth as a container). The (black) Horizontal-Rectangle indicates a dark-horizontal-place or the dark surface of the earth. The other Hand of the Figure was positioned on the side of the Gourd, the side of the earth. Both Hands are black indicating, darkness, The Hands represent the Hands of the Sun (the stewards of the Sun or Sun-priests) in the darkness. Waiting, The stewards of the Sun, Above the dark surface place And below, On the side of the earth. The Figure is clothed in the Form of a (red outline) Dog's Profile Head which means either a prophecy or a prophet. The Figure's clothes are decorated with the black and pink signs Formed in the Imagery of a Mouth (a water-source), there are three such signs indicating many. The shape of the Mouth when viewed from the side with the (black) area seen as Stepped indicates a mountainside. The Mouths, the water-sources on the mountainsides. The rather “U” shaped Mouth of the Dog Form also has the (black) Triangular Dots that mean a female-spirit, the Three (many) -in the darkness. The Upper Swirl means taken down the side while the Lower Swirl means taken up the side. The Form of the upper left section of the clothing may be in the Form of a Bird's Head (flight) there is a surface Line at the Beak (water-source) with two (black) Dots positioned above and below. The prophet, the prophecy, Of the water-sources, On the mountainside, Where the female-spirits,
Are taken, in flight, Down and up the sides of the earth, And turning over its surface, In the darkness. Between the Ears of the Dog Form (the holes -on the side) we see a (brown) Vessel (the earthencontainer). The Overall Shape of the Vessel, The (tan) Figure's Ear, and the Figure's Cheek (its, yellow, Beak) Form the Imagery of a Large Bird (the great flight).The Round Body of the Vessel represents (the location, the one) within the bowels of the earth. The Vessel's Neck or Throat is the tube or tunnel to the surface where there is a hole, its Mouth –a water source. The holes, On the sides of the earth, The great flight, From the bowels of the earth, The location, the one, The tunnel to the surface, The water-source.
We note that the Ear is a Large Bean shape sign representing, the one that germinates or sprouts. The Radicle of the Bean (the seed) represents the Eye of the Bird (the Eye of the Sun, Venus). A “Shepherd's” Staff sign indicates, taken downward. The seed, the one that sprouts, The Eye, Venus, The one taken downward On the side of the earth.
The (yellow) Bird Beak is in the Form of the Triangular earth-female sign. Since the Beak is the Bird's Mouth (water-source) this, in effect, means, the mouth of the earth, a water source on the face of the earth. The seed is positionally, on the side of the earth. Above the Beak is the Imagery of an Eye (the Eye of the Sun, Venus). The Center of the Eye is the hole sign which bisects the (green) Line of the earth's surface. The Eye was thus positioned as part way beneath the surface and above the surface. The Figures Hooked Noses is another “Shepherd's Crook” this time meaning taken upward and past the (red) Triangular earth-female sign. Taken up from the dual holes (the orifices of the Nose), on the side of the earth.
The mouth of the earth, The water-source, Venus, Within the hole, On the surface, Taken upward, To the holes, On the side of the earth. The (green) Horizontal-Rectangle is a horizontal-place sign with two (black) Right Hands making the gesture sign for a bubbling-spring3. The (blue-green) Circle above and over this sign means the location, the one but it is also part of the gesture sign for the bubbling spring (see footnote). The dark-horizontal-place, Of the bubbling spring, The location, The one above, over it. The Form of the sign to the left of the bubbling spring is in the Form of a Finger pointing a direction, here. The base (positionally, below) of the sign is a (yellow) Heart Shape which indicates, a captive. There are two arising signs that terminate at surface Lines followed by the Triangular earth-female signs. Here the captive (spirit) arises as two to the surface of the earth. The two arising signs on the right and left or east and west.
The captive one, Below, The two risings, To the surface, In the east and west. To the right of the Figure we see that the Form of the space behind the Figure is in the Form of a (light green) Large Fish (the great swimmer) with a (black) Dot (the location, the one) for an Eye that alludes to the position of the eye as the Eye of the Sun (Venus). Its Mouth is the “Crook” sign for taken upward on the side of the (green) horizontal-place The great swimmer, The Eye of the Sun, In the darkness, Arising, On the side, Taken upward, To the surface, The horizontal-place.
3 Tomkins, William Indian Sign Language, Dover publications, New York, N. Y. 1969. p. 52-53
Stemming from the Eye (black) of the Large Fish is a (black) Fan shaped sign with (due to the angle of the Fan) its sides are on upper side, arising and its the lower edge, descending. Arising and descending in the dark sky-arc (the Curved portion of the Fan). There are Eight (yellow) Circles (the locations, the ones). The number eight may relate to eight levels of the underworld or it might relate to the number of days that it takes to descend and arise. The Eye of the Sun, Venus, Descending and arising, In the dark sky. Its eight locations (?)
Illustration 20: Second Sitting Figure In front of the second Sitting (waiting) Figure is a (red) Circle meaning the location, the one. The (black) Triangular signs within the Circle are the dark earth-female signs all pointing toward the (positional) center, the center of the earth. The Long Line (black), the great stick in the darkness (positionally) above penetrates the center and (positionally) below where we find the (black) Curved sign for, covered in darkness, on the sides, east and west. The upper part of the Stick composes the Asterisk like sign for a spirit. The great spirit, the one that penetrates, crossing through, the center of the dark earth-female. This appears to be an analog of the stick used by the Figure pushing it into the Gourd to take out the Lime from its Body (the earth). The Space between the Stick and the Figure is Formed into a Large (dark blue) Bird in the Stance of Sitting (waiting). The great flier, awaiting flight.
The one who penetrates, Crosses through, The dark center of the earth, The great spirit, Above in the darkness, Below covered in darkness, On the sides of the earth, East and west. The great one who flies, Awaiting his flight.
Again, as in the first Sitting Figure, the clothing is in the form (red) of a profile Dog's Head. The Ears (the holes on the side) surround the base of the (brown) Vessel Form. As stated above the Dog was the sign for a prophecy or prophet. The designs on the clothing was composed in the Form of “+” sign Crosses. The (green) Cross was added, by the writer, so the Form would be more apparent. The meaning of the Cross was one of, crossing through (the surface). The Rectangles are the sign for places of darkness and light. Some of the Crosses are reversed so that the dark center is exchanged with a light center. The area around the Mouth of the Dog (a water-source) is not a complete cross and forms the Triangular female-spirit sign. Thus either the prophecy or the prophet of, crossing through. The places of darkness and light, The prophecy, Of crossing through, The surface of the earth, The center of the earth. The female-spirit at the water-source. The metaphor of the Bird-Vessel Form is the same as in the First Figure: The holes, On the sides of the earth. The great flight, From the bowels of the earth, The location, the one, The tunnel to the surface, The water-source.
There are two other (light blue) Birds in this Figure. The Upper Bird is dove like in appearance and its Tail stems from the Throat of the (brown) Vessel while its Wing (Hand of a Bird) stems from the Mouth of the Figure (a water-source like that of the spout of the Vessel. Flight from the water-source. The Lower Bird seems to be in the Form of a Kingfisher (the one that dives down into the water and brings up the Fish, the swimmer) and its Tail (what is behind, the past) stems from a Triangular section of the Figure's clothing. Flight from the side of the earth. The Heads of the two Birds are connected to the (black) Dots (the location, the one in two places) which represent the lower and upper ends of the Stick used to transfer Lime from the gourd (the earth) and the Figure's Mouth (the water-source). Apparently this transfer by the stick, though the air, was a metaphor for flight. The Mouth of the Gourd is the (black) rectangular sign for a dark horizontal-place. The (black) Hand holding the Stick represented, the flight in the darkness of the hand of the Sun, the steward of the Sun. The other (black) Hand is on the side of the Gourd (the side of the earth). The steward of the Sun on the side of the earth. The flight of the Hand, the steward of the Sun, From the water-source, The flight of the Kingfisher, The one that dives into the water, And flies out of it, On the side of the earth.
The Bag below the right Hand of the Figure was composed in the Form of a Vessel. The Bag was apparently used as a container of coca leaves. The signs on the Bag are, at the top, the “Shepherd's Crook” sign meaning, taken upward on the side, the Mouth (pink), the water-source on the (black, stepped shape) mountainside. The lower sign is essentially the same except that the Crook sign indicates, taken downward on the side, the Mouth (pink), the water-source on the mountainside. There is a Triangular Form-ed female-spirit sign between the other two signs and it is facing (Stance), upwards. There is a Long (green) horizontal-place sign (meaning, a stretched out place or the broad land) and (positional) below it is the bottom of the Bag Formed in the shape of the sign for, the underside. There is the Crook meaning, taken downward on the side of the Triangular, earth-female on a (black) Foot (a dark walk or journey).This is interwoven with the taken upwards sign and both are (positional) between two Triangular earth-female signs. Across the bottom portion of the Gourd's body, and stretching beneath the Arm imagery, and into the Figures clothing there appears to be a compound Form of a Ladle, the essence of a Ladle would be something that takes liquid or water upward. The Body (yellow-brown) of the Gourd is a bowl shaped container while the handle of the Ladle (tan) is a place sign and at, its end, is a small (light blue) male-spirit Form. The ladle that takes liquid or water upwards, the bowl that contains, the male-spirit.
The container, the earth, Within it, The female-spirit, Taken down, Into the water-source, On the mountainside, Taken upward To the water-source, On the mountainside, Below the wide land, In the underworld, Taken on dark journeys, Upwards and downwards, Between the sides of the earth, The ladle, the bowl that contains, The place, where the male-spirit, Is lifted upwards. The Handle of the Bag was based on “U” shaped turning sign positioned above the Bag (the earth). This “U” is broken into two signs The (black and white) Rectangular place signs on the Handle are the signs for, places of darkness and light. The sign on the left indicates arising in the east while the sign on the right indicates arising in the west. It is not clear what intent or meaning was behind the places of darkness and light but may have some relationship to day and night. Above the earth, The places of darkness and light, The risings in the east and west. The Space within the Handle is in the Form of an Ax-head (tan) or a Knife. A very large Ax or Knife would probably represent the Sun but here the size of the Ax is relatively small so it probably represents a ray of the Sun. This thinking is reinforced by the presence of a (tan) Arm and Hand (the warrior-priest) sign positioned on the side of the Bag/Vessel (side of the earth). The Ray of the Sun, the warrior-priest On the side of the Earth.
On the opposite side of the hill or mesa that the Figure is sitting upon is a (light blue) Cup or Chalice
that appears to have tipped over (Stance) or spilled. The Cup is in the Form of a male-spirit sign. Within the Bowl of the Cup is a female-spirit sign that normally is associated with water (a femalewater-spirit). This Cup Form appears in other Moche compositions and is central to the Presentation Theme. The presentation Theme is often described as a sacrifice ceremony involving blood but here we can see that the focus is on water. The Base of the Cup is a Rectangular vertical-place sign. Thus the female spirit is on the side of a vertical-place, the Mesa. This would seem to indicate a place of water spillage, seepage or a spring. The seepage on the hillside, A male-spirit place, A vertical place. Within the cup, the container, The female-spirit We must now turn our attention back to the Head/Face of the Figure.
Illustration 21: Second Sitting Figure's Head
We have already covered the meaning of the Bird Form composed from the Vessel, Ear, and Cheek of the Figure. The Nose (alludes to the dual holes or orifices at that position). The Nose itself was formed from the sign (light blue) for, arising from the surface. The Eye of the Figure (orange) was Formed from the Half-circle (the under-half or the underworld) with the Pupil acting as the dark location, the one sign. The Eye is surrounded by darkness. The Eye, is of course, the Eye of the Sun or Venus. The Eye of the Sun, Venus, In the underworld, Surrounded by darkness, From the holes, Arises above the surface,
Illustration 22: Second Figure's Headdress
The Headdress of the Figure is rather complicated and not all its details can be clearly seen so we can only approximate its meaning. First is the (black) Rectangle indicating a place of darkness. Over it is a small Form of a Fish, the swimmer. Its Tail is a “V” shaped opening sign positioned as on the side. The Body of the Fish is a Severed Finger pointing a direction, here. On the left is the Imagery of a (black) Plant that was Formed in the shape of one or two Birds (flight). The overall shape of this Plant is one of large “V” shaped opening signs. The Head of the Bird(s) is an upper (black) Dot (the location, the one,) on a (black) Triangular (colored red for identification of the sign) the dark earth-female's surface. The upper Wings, Hands of the Bird (Leaves, Hands, of the Plant) has Three Lined Veins that mean, unseen pathways. The lower Leaves or Wings have some signs that cannot be seen clearly. A horizontal-place of darkness, The swimmer on its surface, Here, At the opening on the side, The sprouting, the openings, The flight, The location, the one, On the dark surface of the earth. The Hand's, the stewards of the Sun's, Unseen pathways. Finally, we focus on the Fan shaped part of the Headdress. The Base of the Fan is a (black) Triangular (colored red for identification) earth-female sign and within it a female-spirit sign. The earth-female sign is tipped (Stance) and (positionally) on the edge of the (black) place-of-darkness sign. The Fan was created from the Form of the side sign and is black (darkness). There are Ten White Circles following the arc of the Fan. This forces the Circles into the Form of an arising sign. The number ten would appear to indicate the nine levels of the underworld plus the level of the surface. Thus, the locations, the ones arising to the surface. Beneath this is a Large, Triangular in Form, femalemoisture-spirit sign with a small white Circle (location, the one) attached to it by a Line. The great female-moisture-spirit, the location, the one. The earth, Within it, The female-spirit, on the dark side, The great female-moisture-spirit, The location, the one, Arising the ten levels, –to the surface. There is some possibility that the Form of the Chins of the Figures were made in the shape of a (black) Fish (the swimmer in the darkness) “V” shaped (opening) Mouth (water-source). The Long (black) Hair (possibly a Foot Form) of the Figures may have represented long dark walks or long dark
journeys down the side with the four (white) Vertical Rectangles indicating the four directions or vertical-places in all directions –everywhere.
Illustration 23: Third Sitting Figure The Third Sitting (the one waiting) Figure has a Headdress in the Form of a Sitting Fox (awaiting the wonder). The Gourd, The Clothing, and the Bird-Vessel imagery are basically the same as in the Second Sitting Figure with only a few small details changed. The general meaning of these signs has been added to the interpretation below. The Figure has the left (eastern) Hand on the side of the gourd (the earthen container) while the right (western) Hand is placing the Stick with the Lime on it into his Mouth (the water-source) The one, the prophet, awaiting the wonder, The release of the spirits from the water source. The Hand, the steward of the Sun, on the side of the earth. The Hand, the steward of the Sun in the darkness, In the water source. The holes, On the sides of the earth, The great flight, From the bowels of the earth, The location, the one, The tunnel to the surface, The water-source. The Eye of the Sun, Venus, Surrounded by darkness, From the holes, Arises to the surface.
The Headdress of the third Figure is essentially a (reddish-brown) Sitting Fox (meaning, awaiting the wonder). The Curved sign that rises behind the Head of the Fox was composed of a (black) Triangular and the Curved Line is an arising sign. This sign stems from a (reddish-brown) vertical-place sign and the flat Straight Line (surface) of the earth-female sign. There are two (white) locational Dots within the vertical-place sign. Arising from a vertical-place, the surface of the dark earth. Predicting the appearance of a lunar rainbow might not have been too difficult in the Moche area where it seldom rains or is completely overcast. With no city lights to contend with and a bright moon after a rain, a nighttime or lunar rainbow might have been quite spectacular. Awaiting the Wonder, The arising, From A vertical-place, a place of depth, The dark surface, Of the earth. Over the Back of the Fox Imagery we observe two (black) Asterisk shaped (spirit)signs. These signs extend from between the vertical-place signs and are above the surface Line made by the Back of the Foxhole middle vertical-place sign has two (black) Dots one above the other (positionally) within it. The Tail of the Fox (the past) is a severed finger point a direction, here, below. Within the Finger is a trail of moisture-spirits. The last place sign is a horizontal-place sign and it has four (white) Dots within it. The number four relates to the four directions or all over –everywhere. The two spirits, East and west, In the darkness, arising, Over the surface, From The vertical-places, the places of depth, The location, The two above and below,
The Fan shaped sign above the Tail of the Fox was composed of a sky arc and two arising signs Left (east) and Right (west). Within the Fan are two Triangular earth-female signs, one at each end (eastern earth and western earth). The three (many) (green) tapered signs may be severed Fingers pointing, here, down below the sky arc. Between the sides of the earth and below the arc of the sky. The risings To The arc of the sky, East and west, Between the sides of the earth, the places below. The Head of the Fox is quite telling as it was composed from several signs. The Ear (a hole on the side) and was also the Form of a water-drop facing or heading (Stance) upwards. The (orange) Eye of the Fox (the Eye of the Sun) is in the Form (brown) of a Bird's Head (flight) while the Eye's Pupil of the Eye is a (black) Dot (location, the one in the darkness). The Nose (the dual holes) is a (black) locational Circle while the Mouth of the Fox (a water-source) is in the Form of a “U” shaped (black) turning sign. The Fox's Teeth indicate numerous doorways or portals. At the back of the “U” of the Mouth is a (black) Triangle indicating the dark earth-female. A hole on the side, The water-drop, Heading upwards, The flight, The location, the one, In the darkness, At the water-source, Its numerous doorways, On the side, Of The dark earth.
Illustration 24: Form and Imagery Written sign language was probably second nature to its composers. There was little doubt among those who could read and write it what the intent of various Forms were. Today for those of us striving to understand the intent of the ancient scribes it is more difficult. Knowledge of the historically documented gesture signs is fundamental to deriving any sense of the intended messages left on various materials such as rock, textiles, jewelry, and pottery. We are beginning to appreciate the complexity of the rules underlying such sophisticated composition. But we are still a long way from a complete understanding of the manner in which gesture signs form and imagery all fit together to create a complete message. In the above illustration we are able to see numerous Forms. Some of these forms are quite clear such as the serpent form and the body and face of the earth-female. When such form is mingled with some imagery such as around the legs of the standing figure they are difficult to discern despite the fact that the forms of the birds are just as continuously lined and complete as that of the serpent. There appears to have been some kind of rule for forms that only have three sides closed by lines with one side open ended. At times it seems that every available space was filled with gesture signs, form and imagery. The problem for today's researcher is one of identifying signs that were intended and those that may have be coincidental or inadvertent creations. Also there is the question of how one should read the form with the imagery. Were they meant to be read separately of somehow combined with the imagery? In this paper several of the forms (where initially recognized) were used when translating the imagery and appeared to make sense. In the above imagery the Arm and Hand (tan) surrounding the third Figure seems very clear. The possible Leg and Foot (dark yellow) above the very large hand is a bit more questionable but combined they would mean, The great warrior arises, His long journey above. The (yellow) area between the two Bats is quite vague. It does seem to have been based on the gesture sign for a star but if that is the case the depiction is quite distorted as if being pulled in different directions and this, in terms of Stance, may have been intended. There are many other Forms shown by different colors that seem plausible and there are probably some that were not detected. In most cases such Form appears redundant as the gesture sign elements and imagery usually covered the same or similar ground.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.