I want to portray a culture with a significantly different method of perceiving their own mathematical concepts, yet not so as to say something like just "they used a kind of number very often, that is almost never used by [insert name of relevant other culture(s)]." I could bore the audience to death by going over random abstract nonsense from set theory or category theory or whatever, and probably will at least injure my audience by this means, but my question here is: are there systems of numerals (not numbers) where the difference is not in the symbols but the colors of the symbols?
E.g., let 0 = X, then 1 = the same shape but in red, 2 = that in blue, etc. Let's say then that 8 = the same symbol but in light gray, so there are nine numerals. I'm not sure if this is feasible, but I'm guessing we might then have XX, in dark gray/black, for 9, then the double-X in red for 10, etc.
So, are there real-world languages that have this feature? Or, are there conlangs, maybe, that involve this construction? In Conway and Guy's Book of Numbers, for example, they introduce some quirky things called "nimbers" (for the game of Nim or something) and mark them out by Arabic numerals except colored red specifically, and I don't know if that was purely for the sake of convenience or if it was meant to signal a kind of difference between nimbers and non-nimbers that, even if not color-based in abstracto, is obscurely similar enough to a difference of coloration so as to explain the coloration decision in the text.
I guess my question more specifically is: have color-coordinated numeral systems been designed, and then shown to be either workable or unworkable? I'm not sure why the related culture would have even come up with this system; a placeholder idea could be that they associated darkness with nothingness = zero, though this suggests that they would have chosen white for infinity instead of 8. I mean, I did say they'd have 8 as light gray, not white, at least because it'd be impossible to read white text against a white backdrop. Maybe clear white would be for infinity because it's impossible to read (against the expected backdrop). At any rate, if this idea has already been explored IRL and shown to be relatively impossible as an effective form of numerical communication, I would have to scrap the idea of some culture emphasizing such a notation system (presumably, if some culture tried the system out, they would have either failed more broadly because of their use of this system, or they would have abandoned it).