More About Our Logo
The ELF logo incorporates an iconographic motif that was used to represent speech in many Mesoamerican murals and sculptures. These “speech-scrolls” often appear in front of the mouths of important personages in depictions of historical and mythological themes.
Each speech-scroll typically consists of a partially “unrolled” spiral element, much like the main part of a question-mark laid on its side (though often with the curve continuing farther into itself; see the examples to the left), to which are usually added a few nodes (as on the ELF logo) or “tabs.” These are spaced evenly along the outer edge. In some speech-scrolls a central line running throughout the entire length of the spiral seems to indicate that the spiral is intended to represent a tongue.
The tabs, in turn, may represent teeth. In most known examples, the speech-scroll is oriented with the longest outer edge upward, so that the central element (or “tongue”) curves downward as it enters the spiral proper. Thus for the ELF logo it seemed appropriate to invert this, much as the United States flag can be flown upside down as a distress signal.
In such an orientation the speech-scroll resembles somewhat the lower-case letters ‘e’ and ‘f’. With the addition of a line parallel to the long part of the central element, to represent the missing lower-case ‘l’, the initials ELF are all represented. The original image from which the ELF logo was derived is found on Stela 13 at the Late Classic Maya site at Seibal, Peten, Guatemala, a rubbing of which is in the Merle Greene Robertson Collection of the Latin American Library at Tulane University.
By Dennis Holt