Saturday, November 9, 2013

Back from the Field....

..where I have been almost continuously since May. It's been a great season, but it's good to be home. The last few days I have been trying to catch up a little on what's new on Tékumel. I was really quite taken by the doodle over on the Tékumel Project blog:

It clearly consists of Tsolyáni letters, although I can't quite assemble them into Tsolyani words. Nevertheless, it did get me thinking about Tsolyáni calligrams.

Do the Tsolyáni use calligrams? I decided they probably do. The compass rose on the EPT box cover certainly looks like it might be one (incidentally, I have always assumed that that element on the EPT box-top is supposed to be a representation of the Seal of the Imperium....does that make sense?).

Anyway, so I thought it might be fun to try my hand at a Tsolyáni calligram or two. And the obvious place to experiment is with deity names. So first, Dlamélish. Here's the name of the Deity wrapped clockwise around a central point. Special emphasis on the "-sh" consonant, since its double loops recall the "Twin Orbs of Ecstasy" from Jamie Thomson's superb analysis of the BoEB demon glyphs.

I am quite happy with it as is, but it rather fails as a calligram, since there is no particular visual image. So why don't we elongate the "-sh" even more to give the whole thing something of a lingam effect?

I think the Goddess would approve. Especially rendered in a nice Dlamélish-compliant silver on emerald green. So voila. The name "Dlamélish" in the form of a stylized barbed phallus.

The next one I tried was Sárku. I was aiming to set the name in a pentagonal form, with a worm emerging from each corner. I even added the General Attitude Suffix "-dali" so I would have five consonants. Well, I kind of succeeded, but the results kind of sucked. I don't think you can impose a visual image on the word from the outset, you have to let it emerge from the characters.

So then I decided to try something easier: Qón. Only two consonants. Should be easy, right? Well, it turns out it is. Qón is ridiculously easy to make calligrams with. Flip the letter "n" and the name "Qón" instantly turns into a stylized mace, the symbol of the Deity.

Write the name "Qón" as usual, but add a flourish to the vowel to turn it into an ear, move the double loops of the letter "n" forward to make nostrils and add a fanged element inside, and there you have the name "Qón" rendered as a canine beast-head. Sort of a demonic Snoopy-face. It was rather startling to see how easy that was!