purple

The Greek that is translated as “purple” in English is translated as “blue-red” in Ojitlán Chinantec.

In Kasua was a little bit more involved, as Rachel Greco recalls (in The PNG Experience):

“The Kasua people of Western Province have no word for the color purple. They have words for many other colors: black, red, white, yellow, green, and blue, but not for the color of royalty.

“About nine New Testament passages mention people placing a purple robe on Jesus. The Kasua translation team always wanted to use the word ‘red,’ or keyalo, to describe the robe. Tommy, one of the translation team helpers, disagreed because this is not historically accurate or signifies the royalty of Jesus.

“One of the main rules of translation is that the team must stick to the historical facts when they translate a passage. If they don’t, then how can the readers trust what they’re reading is true? Other questions about truth could bubble in the reader’s minds about the Scriptures. For this reason, Tommy was not willing to change the word purple. So the team hung up the problem, hoping to revisit it later with more inspiration.

“God did not disappoint.

“Years later, Tommy hiked with some of the men near their village. They saw a tree that possessed bulbous growths growing on the side of it like fruit. These growths were ‘the most beautiful color of purple I’d ever seen,’ explained Tommy.

“’What is the name of this tree?’ Tommy asked the men.

“’This is an Okani tree,’ they replied.

“Tommy suggested, ‘Why don’t you, in those passages where we’ve been struggling to translate the color purple, use ‘they put a robe on Jesus the color of the fruit of the Okani tree’?

“’Yeah. We know exactly what color that is,’ the men said enthusiastically.

“Everyone in their village would also visualize this phrase accurately, as the Okani tree is the only tree in that area that produces this kind of purple growth. So now, among the Kasua people, in his royal purple robe, Jesus is shown to be the king that he is.”

complete verse (Revelation 17:4)

Following are a number of back-translations of Revelation 17:4:

  • Uma: “As for the woman, her clothes were all the best/fanciest: bright red and purple [lit., grayish like new mango leaves], decorated with gold and pearls and expensive rocks. She held a golden cup filled with a drink that is forbidden because it is evil and disgusting. That drink means her shameful and not-fitting deeds.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “That woman was dressed in purple and red, covered with jewelry, precious stones and pearls. She carried a golden cup full of the uncleanness/dirt and filth of her immorality.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And as for that woman, she was clothed with expensive red and purple cloth. Her body was decorated with pearls, and expensive stones, and gold. There was in her hand a golden cup full of wine which is the vulgar, filthy deeds of her prostitution.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “The clothes of the woman, they were red and blue (loan asul, closest color to purple) like clothes of a ruler. She was also decorated-all-over with gold and valuable stones and pearls. She was holding a gold cup full of the nauseating/repulsive and filthy things she had done.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “The clothing of that woman was red and really ornate like the clothing of a king. Gold and expensive mined stones and far-from-ordinary beads were the decoration of her body. She was holding a gold cup which was full of the filthy and disgusting things of that habit of hers which was like that.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “Concerning the woman her clothing was purple and red. The clothing had ornaments of gold, with little stones which were beautiful and stones named pearls. She held a bowl made of gold. All kinds of evil filled the bowl, because the woman was guilty of fornication.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)