05.08.2018 History of Style. Colour does matter: blue

History of Style. Colour does matter: blue

The colour blue in all cultures always signified always the same thing: peacefulness, life, and serenity.

In ancient Egypt, the colour blue symbolized initially truth.  Mummies were wrapped in blue coloured clothing.  The wigs of gods, pharaohs, and queens were depicted on frescos of that time in blue.  Hierophants (priests) and rulers wore blue clothing.  Many Egyptian temples were decorated in blue.  And the main gemstone was lapis lazuli (lazurite).  The Egyptians’ love of blue could be easily explained; their lives fully depended on the River Nile.  The Egyptians generally used the dark blue dye indigo.

In ancient China, the colour blue symbolized immortality.  There was a persistent belief in ancient oriental medicine that the colour blue cured diseases of the face and lung.  However, ancient Chinese doctors didn’t advise overuse of blue, because they believed it could lead to depression, although, of course, at that time that term did not exist.  Chinese doctors described the condition as “lifeless power”.

In ancient Rome, people didn’t really like the colour blue.  Usually it meant that the person was mourning.  Light blue was regarded as a very sharp and unpleasant colour; dark blue was regarded as frightening and mysterious.  It had strong associations in people’s minds with the afterlife.  The dislike of the colour blue was so strong that even blue eyes were considered a physical flaw.

In Europe, the colour blue only came into fashion in the 12th century.  It happened thanks to the French King, Louis VII.  He initiated the use of blue in royal insignia and robes.  This marked the start of a trend for blue colour in fashion.  What was remarkable was that the use of blue went hand in hand with the use of red; red – the colour of festivity, blue – the colour of peace and ecclesiastics.  Red was regarded as a female colour, blue was regarded as a male colour.

To be continued…

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