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Historical Significance of Colors

Colors have different meanings in various cultures. They are used to represent holidays and express feelings in different countries. The meanings of colors have changed over the years. Find the historical significance of your favorite color.

Violet/Purple

Historical Significance

  • Widows used to wear purple to mourn their husbands’ death in Thailand.
  • To obtain one ounce of Tyrian purple dye, the Egyptian queen Cleopatra asked her servants to soak 20,000 purpura snails for 10 days.
  • Richard Wagner composed his operas in room with violet shades; violet is his color of inspiration.
  • Leonardo Da Vinci believed the power of meditation increases when done in violet or purple light (light of stained glass).
  • A purple heart is a decoration for the soldiers killed or wounded in a battle by US Military.

Present Significance

  • Purple is the royal color and is symbolic to luxury and sophistication.
  • According to color theory the purple color in children’s room can help improve their imagination.
  • It is feminine and romantic.

Blue

Historical Significance

  • The Pharaohs of Egypt used to wear blue for protection against evil.
  • Blue is the color of mourning in Iran.
  • In ancient Rome public servants used to wear blue.

Present Significance

  • Blue relaxes the body, so it is often used in bed rooms.
  • It symbolizes loyalty, hence wearing blue is recommended by experts for interviews.
  • Studies show that weightlifters are able to handle heavier weights in blue gyms. This is because people are more productive in blue rooms.

Green

Historical Significance

  • Green is the national color of Ireland.
  • In Scotland, people used to wear green as a mark of honor.
  • People in ancient Egypt used to color the floors of their temples green.
  • In ancient Greece, green was symbolic to victory.
  • Brides in the Middle Ages used to wear green to symbolize fertility.

Present Significance

  • Green is the healing color and relaxes patients. Hence hospitals often use this color.
  • It is a refreshing color and can improve vision.

Yellow

Historical Significance

  • In Japan during the war of dynasty each warrior wore a yellow chrysanthemum as a pledge of courage.
  • In Egypt and Burma yellow is the color of mourning.
  • In India yellow is the divine color.
  • In ancient France the doors of criminals were painted yellow.
  • Actors of Middle Ages used to wear yellow to represent the dead in a play.

Present Significance

  • Yellow enhances concentration and speeds up metabolism.
  • People lose their tempers more often in yellow color rooms and it is the most difficult color for the eye to take in.

Red

Historical Significance

  • Red was the color of House of Lancaster, which defeated the House of York (white color) in English war of the Roses.
  • The soldiers of the Italian leader Garibaldi, who unified modern Italy, were called as the Red shirts.
  • Red flag was the symbol for battle for ancient Romans.
  • In China, red is the wedding and holiday color and also a color of good luck.
  • Ancient Egyptians used to paint their body with red dye for emphasis.
  • The Bolsheviks used red flag as their symbol in 19th century when they overthrew the czar.
  • Red is the color of mourning in South Africa.

Present Significance

  • Red is the color of love.
  • It is the most emotionally intense color.
  • It stimulates faster heartbeat and breathing.

Black

Historical Significance

  • In ancient Egypt people used to believe that black cats had divine powers.
  • Black was the color of mourning for ancient Romans and Egyptians.
  • The security troops in Hitler’s German army were known as black shirts.

Present Significance

  • Black is the color of authority.
  • It implies submission; hence priests wear black to signify submission to God.
  • It makes people appear thinner for which it became popular color in fashion.

White

Historical Significance

  • White is the color of mourning in China and Japan.
  • The people of ancient Persia used to believe that all Gods wore white.
  • The Egyptian Pharaohs used to wear white crowns.
  • White flag is the universal symbol for truce.
  • The ancient Greeks used to wear white cloths to bed to get pleasant dreams.

Present Significance

  • White reflects light, so people wear white in summer.
  • Brides wear white to symbolize innocence and purity; it is considered as good luck to be married in white clothes.
  • White goes well with most colors, so became popular in fashion.
  • Doctors and nurses wear white to symbolize sterility.
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User Comments
  1. lanne

    On January 27, 2008 at 7:17 am


    Great article Valli!! I learned a lot from this one.

  2. IcyCucky

    On January 27, 2008 at 7:41 am


    Very interesting, I learn a lot too.

  3. louie jerome

    On January 27, 2008 at 8:48 am


    Interesting and informative

  4. Alexa Gates

    On January 27, 2008 at 8:51 am


    I never knew this about colors!

  5. CHAN LEE PENG

    On January 27, 2008 at 10:04 am


    Very interesting, the pictures too beautiful, thanks! Take care!

  6. valli

    On January 27, 2008 at 10:48 am


    Thank you everyone for the appreciation.

  7. 45-year-old-man

    On January 27, 2008 at 4:42 pm


    In this article, did we talk about non-colors (white and black)? yes
    …the 3 primary colors (red, yellow, and blue)? yes
    …the 3 secondary colors (green, purple, and orange)? not all
    WE LEFT OUT ORANGE, now didn’t we! Orange is the traditional coloration of the robes of holy men in both Hindu and Buddhist traditions. It, like purple, has been indicatative of royalty.

  8. Judy Sheldon

    On January 27, 2008 at 8:03 pm


    Excellent article. I can see that you did a lot of research to present these facts. It was well done, and informative. I learned a lot. Thank you.

  9. valli

    On January 27, 2008 at 10:36 pm


    @ 45-year-old-man

    Yes, yes.. thats a point to be noted! Somehow Orange didnt strike me at all… my mistake! Thanx for adding that point up:)

    @Judy
    Thanks a lot for your comment.

  10. Meri Jeffrey

    On January 28, 2008 at 7:53 am


    Amazing content, I can’t digest it all right now but interesting subject matter!

  11. What about Orange?

    On January 28, 2008 at 8:02 am


    What about Orange? I am sat in an Orange room right now, and I want to know the implications of this. How disappointing.

  12. Dee Ann

    On January 29, 2008 at 4:35 pm


    Orange is a symbol of power. I was also Frank Sinatra’s favourite colour.

  13. Ariel

    On January 29, 2008 at 10:55 pm


    Contrary to popular belief. Wearing a white wedding dress is not symbolic of purity. In weddings, it the veil that symbolizes purity and virginity.

    Before the 18th century, white was not a common dress color because wedding dresses were often time worn well over one time (in fact many times over the course of a few years). Because white stains easily, most of the time women would not wear white dresses at the wedding in order to preserve the dress. Therefore, a white wedding dress became a symbol of wealth (showing that you could afford to buy a new dress if it were to stain).

    Just thought you should know

  14. Gerald Middlebrooks

    On January 30, 2008 at 10:52 am


    That was very informative! I too can see you have researched thoroughly as a result of the findings. I am pleased to know that green can improve vision seeing as how I have just learned I am in the premier stages of glaucoma. Maybe I will get a green tint on my glasses….Thanks a lot!!

  15. valli

    On January 30, 2008 at 8:54 pm


    Thank you everyone for reading and commenting.

  16. Anne Lyken-Garner

    On January 31, 2008 at 2:05 am


    Very informative and interesting

  17. Shelly McRae

    On January 31, 2008 at 10:27 am


    Interesting article, really enjoyed reading it.

  18. valli

    On January 31, 2008 at 7:25 pm


    Thank you for the comments, Anne, and Shelly McRae.

  19. Atikin

    On February 4, 2008 at 12:47 pm


    It is weird yet wonderful how much colours say about you…now I know all about my favourite colours – Black and purple!
    Excellent article and very cleverly thought of!

  20. Liane Schmidt

    On February 5, 2008 at 6:01 pm


    I love learning about such things. Great article!

    Best wishes.

    Sincerely,

    -Liane Schmidt.

  21. valli

    On February 5, 2008 at 11:37 pm


    Thanks for the appreciation, Atikin, and Liane Schmidt.

  22. jessiegirl88

    On February 12, 2008 at 11:24 pm


    Great article. I like the idea of putting purple into a child’s room to bring out their imagination.

  23. valli

    On February 13, 2008 at 8:48 am


    Thank you , Jessiegirl88

  24. Jaison

    On February 14, 2008 at 10:43 pm


    Good one Valli

  25. quiet voice

    On February 16, 2008 at 6:13 pm


    ..my, how fascinating. What a beautifully
    composed article. Great work.

  26. Jay Lenno

    On February 24, 2008 at 6:52 pm


    This is a great page of information. Great job goes out to everyone who helped work on it. I have to run, my show starts in an hour!

  27. valli

    On February 25, 2008 at 7:15 am


    Thank you, Jaison, quiet voice, and Jay Lenno.

  28. Dexymine

    On March 6, 2008 at 2:45 am


    Very nice and insightful

  29. icefusion

    On March 12, 2008 at 12:22 pm


    informative. liked it

  30. valli

    On March 13, 2008 at 1:11 am


    Thank you, Dexymine, and Icefusion.

  31. swa!!

    On May 18, 2008 at 6:43 am


    hmm.. very nice…i loved d article…very informaive…
    but there are many more colors which could be talked about!!

  32. by jooc

    On September 4, 2008 at 9:21 am


    never knew colors meant anything

  33. ali

    On September 4, 2008 at 9:24 am


    i tuaght colors are just colors but after i read about the color, i guess they mean something.

  34. nurul

    On October 13, 2008 at 7:41 am


    thank you for your article.it’s very helping me. i need it for my sister, she needs to finish her homework. but if you can explain the history and or the meaning of other colours. it’s really really helpful. :)

  35. Louis

    On October 16, 2008 at 9:35 am


    Wasn’t white the color of mourning in France as well?

  36. Kimi

    On November 25, 2008 at 1:50 pm


    what about pink?

  37. Arvind Bagga

    On February 17, 2009 at 11:09 pm


    Good work vali. But you need to elaborate these more in a broader way

  38. Pooh

    On March 1, 2009 at 9:20 am


    Awesome! I loved it.

  39. MOSKY

    On March 16, 2009 at 12:38 pm


    I wanted to know the meaning of the color cream. You have given us vital information but the reason why have check on the site is the color “cream” i will be glad if you can forward it to my mail below: mosketies@gmail.com

  40. hurly

    On March 20, 2009 at 12:31 pm


    Hey sorry but I feel like you forgot about the significance of red, to communism, socialism, independence achieved by former colonies of Spain, Colombia etc. Red has great significance amongst the Pan-Africanism movement and has been adopted in the flags of many African countries upon their recent realisations of independence. Also I found your definition of black to be slightly lacking. Black you say signifies submission yet has been adopted by a multitude of Pro-African movements to signify just the opposite, black parallel to red, green and gold (Pan-African colours) have all been adopted in the colour schemes of more flags than any other colour, legitimising their significance.
    Black may signify submission in some cultures but I think it’s worth noting that it signifies the struggle resulting from the perceived belief that as black was the colour of submission, Blacks were naturally submissive to (Europeans) White’s. Christianity stems from White’s and colonialism while not a product of christianity was certainly aided by it’s influence. Black nowadays also means a struggle for independence and freedom. The Australian aboriginals even adopted black in their flag for this very reason, their flag was only created in 1971!!!!! Black is not the colour of authority not by any means, black is the colour adopted by the anarchism movement, black has noting to do with authority. Didn’t know that it made you look thinner that’s cool I guess.
    Anyway just thought you had left some important stuff out, it kinda irked me that black only meant submission, authority and a link to nazism seemed like it was one sided.
    Good job though very interesting article.

  41. valli

    On March 20, 2009 at 11:51 pm


    @Hurly
    It was very nice of you to add all that info. Thanks.

  42. Alice

    On May 18, 2009 at 5:45 pm


    Could you tell me about the color cream too?!?!?!! Thanks!

  43. honey khan

    On December 21, 2010 at 10:12 am


    good job ;)

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