The Color Purple
By Nancy August 8th, 2013
I’m having a very exciting afternoon – I received the latest edition of Sherwin-Williams’ publication, Stir. It’s a magazine all about color… trends, new products, organic farming. Yeah, there’s a great article about heirloom vegetables. They’re very colorful! Did you know that early carrots were purple and that you can get blue tomatoes? Who knew.
Anyway, there is an interesting article about the color purple that I wanted to share with you. I’m just going to copy their copy; it’s not plagiarism if I give them credit. The words are from Sherwin-Williams, but I chose these corresponding photos all by myself.
“The Color Purple”, from Stir, Special Issue 2013
Purple is the hue of emperors and kings – and more recently of rock’s Prince. But how did the intersection of red and blue develop its royal reputation?
The word itself gives us a clue. “Purple” comes from the Latin and Greek words for the purple dye that was manufactured in ancient times using a mucus secreted by a sea snail.
Wait a second. Gross! How does this begin? An ancient guy gets slimed by a snail and thinks it’s attractive? They say to their slave, “Hey, go get me some snail mucus, I’m going to make myself a coat”? Okay, this paragraph was from me, not Sherwin-Williams.
The process of making the dye was extremely painstaking and costly, and the color became a status symbol, attainable only by kings, nobles and high priests. Purple was so precious that Roman Emperor Nero made it punishable by death for anyone but himself to wear it. Now, centuries later, the color purple is accessible to masses at the mall – but it remains steeped in regal symbolism.