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 18:12)

Following are a number of back-translations of Revelation 18:12:

  • Uma: “Their merchandise were many kinds. There was gold, silver, gems [lit., eyes of rings], and pearls. There were fine clothes that were made from expensive cloth/thread, bright red and purple cloth. There were things made from fragrant wood, things made from ivory [Indonesian: gading], and other things made from expensive wood or from brass, iron, or alabaster [Indonesian: pualam].” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “Nobody will buy from them gold, silver, valuable precious-stones and pearls. Nobody will buy the expensive cloths, purple and red clothes/material and silk. Nobody will buy the different kinds of wood that are difficult to be found, and the different kinds of objects made of ivory, and expensive wood and brass and iron and stone called marble.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “There is no longer anyone who can buy their merchandise; gold, silver, expensive stones, and pearls, good white cloth, and red cloth, and silk cloth, fragrant woods, things made of expensive wood and stone and ivorys and bronze and iron and marblestone,” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “There is no one to buy their gold, silver, valuable stones, and pearls. Likewise the expensive materials (i.e. cloth) that they sell such as those whose color is blue and red. Neither is there anyone to buy their fragrant wood and the miscellaneous-things made from elephant (loan elefante) tusk, valuable woods, copper, iron and beautiful stone called marbel.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “There’s no-one now who will buy their gold and silver, the expensive mined stones and far-from-ordinary beads for body decoration, and the first-class cloth, silky cloth and that which has been dyed dark-blue/purple and red. There’s no-one for them to cause to buy their nice-smelling wood, and all kinds of things made from expensive wood, horn of elepante, bronze/copper, iron and first-class white stone.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “No one will buy the loads of gold or silver, or the little stones which are beautiful or pearls. They can’t sell the good cloth named line, or silk, or that of purple or red. They can’t sell the woods of different odors, nor the bone which is made into beautiful forms, or the good kinds of word, or bronze, or iron metal, or the stone which is marble.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)