Re: [tied] The Word for Color/Yellow in Sanskrit?

From: x99lynx@...
Message: 18124
Date: 2003-01-26

"S.Kalyanaraman <kalyan97@...>" <kalyan97@...> wrote (Sun Jan 26, 2003):
<<How would varn.a 'alphabet' be explained?>>

Descriptions of early writing in India often involve the dusting or pouncing
of the writing surface with charcoal. Another description involves a surface
"covered with a paste of tamarind-seed and afterwards blackened with
charcoal-powder. Chalk or steatite pencils were used for writing on this
black cloth." This recalls my earlier post that mentioned the use of
<varn.a> to refer to both a "covering" and Cajanus Indicus, and the use of
that plant in making charcoal for pouncing, sharpening of stylus lines and
the making of minatures. Of course, saffron <varn.a> is also recorded as
being used as the base of an ink, presumably a "yellowish" ink. And of
course, to the extent that <varn.a> means 'paint' (and varn. means
'painting'), the application of the same to "painted writing" might also be

So that it is not difficult to see how lettering (i.e., use of an alphabet)
or writing might be connected to <varn.a> in these senses.

The more difficult connection would that of <varn.a> to sounds and music,
where even "color" (hue) would seem to be strictly metaphorical. Perhaps,
this might be an indication that references to <varn.a> with regard to sounds
were actually refering to written notations?

And then there's 'varnish' -- of somewhat uncertain origin, but with no
apparent relatedness to <varn.a> --- but which might match many of its senses
quite well, including that of a "yellowish" skin or covering.

Steve Long