The Colour Purple
“The sky is already purple; the first few stars have appeared, suddenly, as if someone had thrown a handful of silver across the edge of the world.”
~ Alice Hoffman, Here on Earth ~
Visually, purple is one of the most difficult colours to discriminate. It also has the strongest electromagnetic wavelength, being just a few wavelengths up from x-rays and gamma rays. . Purple is also the most powerful wavelength of the rainbow, and due to purple’s history, origins and symbolism, it is effectively more significant and interesting than any other colour.
Purple is often seen to be a regal or royal colour, but this is probably more due to history than anything else…
History of Purple
Truth is, our ancestors probably never saw a purple fruit, flower, or any living thing, because purple is very rare in nature. Today of course, due to modern technology and travel, this is rather hard to believe…
As civilizations developed, so did clothing and coloured dyes. Because dyes were created from objects found in nature, creating purple was extremely difficult:
During the 15th century, the city of Tyre along the coast of Ancient Phoenicia began producing purple dye by crushing the shells of a small sea snail. The resulting colour became known as Tyrian purple and was so well-known it was mentioned in Homer’s Iliad and Virgil’s Aeneid. Alexander the Great and the kings of Egypt also wore clothing coloured with the famous Tyrian purple.
Back in 1900 B.C. It took some 12,000 shellfish to extract 1.5 grams of the pure dye – barely enough for dying a single garment the size of the Roman toga – this meant that only the extremely rich could afford purple garments – this led to the colour purple becoming associated with wealth and royalty.
Roman emperors Julius Caesar and Augustus both decreed that only the Emperor could wear purple. When Nero became Emperor, the wearing of purple and even the sale of purple was punishable by death!
This connection with royalty was not just restricted to ancient times. Purple was the colour of choice for tickets to Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953.
Variations of purple convey different meanings:
- Light purples are light-hearted, floral, and romantic;
- Dark purples are more intellectual and dignified.
- Light purple awakens romantic and nostalgic feelings.
- Dark purple can cause sad feelings and frustrations.
- Purple is also a colour of mourning.
Symbolism of Purple
Science has revealed much more about purple than our ancestors ever realised: Purple is the most powerful visible wavelength of electromagnetic energy. This may be why purple is associated more with supernatural energy and the cosmos than with the physical world as we know it.
Purple symbolises magic, mystery, spirituality, the sub-conscious, creativity, dignity, royalty – and it evokes all of these meanings more so than any other colour.
Purple Is Sometimes Seen as Exotic
Due to the fact that it does not often occur in nature, purple can be seen as being rare and exotic, therefore tends to be quite a polarising colour. People tend to either really love purple or really hate it.
Purple Is Sensual
Once again, due to its history of being seen as being a “royal” colour, purple is experienced as being lush, rich, tactile, sweetly aromatic and sensual, especially the dark tones.
Purple Conveys Wisdom
Many individuals feel that purple has a calming effect gives off a sense of wisdom.
Purple Is Serene and Soothing
Some people feel that dark purple reminds them of the serenity of the moon in the darkness of night, drawing them in and enveloping them in a peaceful state of mind. Light purples like lavender make them daydream and feel happy and calm as though they are enveloped in a light mist.
Purple Is Mysterious
Purple or violet expand our horizon and connects us to a higher level of consciousness, which is helpful to those seeking the meaning of life and spiritual fulfilment.
In colour psychology, purple and violet represent the future, imagination and dreams. They inspire and improve our psychic abilities and spiritual awareness as well as ensure that we stay grounded and down to earth.
Purple and violet ensure harmony of the mind and the emotions and contribute to mental balance and stability, peace of mind, a connection between the spiritual and physical world, and between thought and action. Violet and purple promotes meditation.
Purple is Magical and Unique
Purple calls for creative doings and seeks inspiration and originality through its creative efforts. It likes to be unique, individual and independent – not one of the crowd.
Artists, musicians, writers, poets and healers are all inspired by violet and its magic and mystery.
Violet is the colour of humanitarians who likes to do something good for others. The combination of wisdom and power combined with sensitivity and humility, makes violet capable of helping those in need.
Global Meanings of Purple
- Purple tends to be a colour that people either love or hate.
- Among Mediterranean people, purple was reserved for emperors and popes. The Japanese christened it “Imperial Purple”
- Purple is the colour of mourning or death in many cultures (Brazil, Italy, Thailand, U.K.)
- Purple is not a common flag colour. Only two flags contain purple.
Cultural Meanings of Purple
- In the U.S., the Purple Heart is one of the highest honours for bravery in military service.
- The phrase ‘purple prose’ is often used to describe a poem or paragraph that his extremely imaginative or even prone to exaggeration, hyperbole, or outright lies.
- Born to the purple or in the purple means to be born to royalty
- Lay it out in lavender is a phrase meaning being cool, very relaxed and in total control
- Shrinking violet is the term used to describe a shy person who doesn’t express his or her opinions
How the Colour Purple Affects You
- Raises and stimulates the mood
- Calms the mind and nerves
- Provides a sense of spirituality
- Encourages creativity and imagination
The purple colour meaning equals power. It has a richness and quality that demands respect. Purple is ambitious and confident – it is the leader type. Too much of the colour purple can promote or exacerbate depression for some people. It is a colour that should be used very carefully and in small quantities by those who are vulnerable to it.
“Einstein’s relativity work is a magnificent mathematical garb which fascinates, dazzles and makes people blind to the underlying errors. The theory is like a beggar clothed in purple whom ignorant people take for a king… its exponents are brilliant men but they are metaphysicists rather than scientists.”
~ Nikola Tesla ~