Saturday, December 17, 2016

Red and Revolution

China's Communist leader Mao Zedong. 
Launched Cultural Revolution 1966.
Until his death 1976. 

Mao's Little Red Book
Contains statements and writings by Mao. 
Widely distributed during the Cultural Revolution. 

July Revolution, France, 1830
Liberty Leading the People by Eugene Delacroix
Oil on canvas, 1830

Civil War Russia, 1917
“Happy New Year” – Civil War poster celebrating the success of the Red Army

Blue and The Natural World

Chefchaouen, Morocco
When Jewish refugees fleeing the Spanish Inquisition settled in Chefchauoen, they wanted the buildings and streets to mirror the sky so they could be reminded of God.

The burial man of Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamen
Blue for the Ancient Egyptians was associated with the life-giving Nile River 
and with the heavens and thus the realm of the gods. 

source is

Wes Anderson's Colour Palettes

The fictional worlds evoked in film by director Wes Anderson have such a precise colouration – the very particular pastel-hues that paint the skies, drench the buildings and dress the characters, render Anderson’s microcosms almost dream-like. The hazy-hued lens through which we peer into the director’s unique world has a retro quality that casts his films in a nostalgia for a time that could have been. The muted pink of The Grand Budapest Hotel that makes the hotel itself the biggest character in the movie; the very particular French mustard that comes to define Gwyneth Paltrow’s Margot Tenenbaum in The Royal Tenenbaums; the vintage boy-scout green in Moonrise Kingdom – all of these hues are captured in the Wes Anderson Colour Palettes Tumblr, which breaks down the shades that colour Wes’s world scene by scene with precise accuracy, and also the Movies in Color site, which considers individual frames of many films, including Anderson's, distililng them down to their myriad different shades.   

The Darjeeling Limited, 2007

Artist and Wes Anderson enthusiast Hamish Robertson says, “Anderson's colour palettes are integral to his cinematic ‘world-building’. His eye for art direction and fantastic attention to detail creates the appropriate space and tone for his characters to exist in – and for the viewer to lose themselves in. They ultimately become their own visual language, the way character themes are elaborated in cinematic scores, allowing an immersive visual experience whether the sound is on or not.” Text

Moonrise Kingdom, 2012

The Grand Budapest Hotel, 2014
The muted pink of The Grand Budapest Hotel 
makes the hotel itself the biggest character in the movie.

Fantastic Mr Fox, 2009

Source is


Friday, December 16, 2016

Symbolism of Color, Medieval: Red, Blue, White and Gold History of Color #4

During the Middle Ages the idea of splendor and light was extremely important in material creative expression. A rich vocabulary was  used to describe light in art theory and theology. Colors were seen as a part of symbolic expression, they were not supposed so much imitate nature, as it happened later, during the Renaissance. The goal of using colors was to express an ideal reality. There was not much interest in showing shadow in art, but a lot of interest in showing the most possible clarity in colors. Paints were  mixed so that they stayed as close as possible to the ideal hue of the best of pigments. Beauty was a representation of some kind of ideal reality. This ideal reality was thought to exist in colors, and colors had, in opinions of medieval people, their own inner light.

This thinking about the  ideal essences of things was the legacy of the Classics, of Plato and than of Plotinus. I hope not to make things too complicated, but symbolism, philosophy, iconography, mysticism, theology, and technicalities of making art were all  interconnected.

Medieval art put extreme emphasis on purity of colors. When digging deeper in art history we will see that there were some differences between Latin Christianity and the  Byzantine Christianity, but in general color ruled the art world.

You see here the four most important colors of the Middle Ages. Yes, gold was considered a color, unlike today. Speaking of hues, we have primary colors, red, blue and yellow, as gold is close to yellow, and was replaced by cheaper yellow sometimes. Plus a neutral: white.

I start this part with two of those powders on the picture, (one raw pigment, one metal powder), which were relating to light: white and gold.

White: symbolized light. White was a symbol of purity, innocence and renewal of spiritual life. During the early Middle Ages angels were shown in white, but later were colorful. It truly depends on time and place: later Middle Ages had colorful angels. Also the elders of Apocalypse, robes of Jesus, prophets, newly baptized people, considered innocent, the righteous people, Jesus in moment of transfiguration. But Jesus was not always shown in transfiguration in white robes only, Middle Ages had codified symbolism, but not rigid rules.

St Sever Apocalypse manuscript. Public domain, courtesy of French Wikipedia

This example shows white as light (stars),  and as a symbol of innate purity as seen in  this white lamb from St. Sever Apocalypse manuscript. 

Gold: as white was more representing physical light in the world, and also had symbolic meaning, the divine light was gold. The light reflecting properties were used freely, not only for decorative purposes but also to communicate theological truth, to show light out of this world. As the divine light was closely relating to the idea of absolute divine wisdom which it represented, the backgrounds of paintings and mosaics are golden. But not always, blue was used too. Gold symbolized divine light represented spiritual illumination, and to indicate this state of blessedness, connection to the divine, or divinity itself. Halos were golden most of the time. But also there were halos painted blue.

Here is the link to Hagia Sophia interior video. for those of you on whose search engines videos embedded in this blog do not show. Hagia Sophia means Holy Wisdom in Greek, and it was the most magnificent church in Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire. Usage of gold is befitting the name of the church very well.

Red was the color of love in sense of selfless love, like Christ's love fro humanity, agape which is the unconditional love, and blood of redemption and blood of martyrs. 

Blue was symbol of heaven, contemplation, things which are divine, life lived in accordance to the highest standards. More about those colors later.

 We need to keep in mind that system of  color symbol was not  rigid. There were canons in iconography, but it doesn't mean that the artists were slavishly following them. The philosophers and theologians were interpreting colors quite freely as well, a lot of abstract thinking went into writings about colors. Does it mean we can't rely at all on color symbolism in Medieval art? Yes, we can. But we should approach it with open mind, and remember that there are no absolutes. Also the symbolic language of colors in religious art was adopted by secular art, but the meaning of one color in religious art many not be exact the same in secular art. For example white was worn by French queens as the color of mourning. Purple was color of mourning too, in addition of symbolizing royal, or imperial power.

A very informative article about color in Renaissance and Medieval  clothing. Not only is the author very well informed, but also gives warning not to interpret things too rigidly.

Source is Art History, Symbolism and Legends

The Meaning of Renaissance and Medieval Clothing Colors

This post is designed to meet the needs of people looking for the symbolic meanings of 
Medieval and Renaissance clothing colors. It also describes the colors worn by certain 
members of society. 

The meaning of colors is not a simple and exact body of knowledge. Even during the 
Renaissance and Medieval periods, the meanings of colors were debated (more about 
this below the list). So, consider yourself forewarned about the vagaries of color symbolism 
in clothing. The list below, while not comprehensive, does provide ideas from secondary
 sources about what different colors represented and how they were used.

  • Reds - Renaissance
    • High social status, royalty, gentlemen, men of justice. (1) 
    • Worn by judges and similar persons (Scotland, the Holy Roman Empire, England’s Court of Common Pleas, occasionally by peers in English Parliament); royal magistrates, king’s chancellor (France); high government posts (Venice and Florence). (2) 
    • Cosmopolitan man with access to international trading centers. (3) 
    • Power and prestige. (4) 
    • In the Church, red was a symbol of authority, Pentecostal fire, the blood of Christ, martyrdom, crucifixion, Christian charity. Also, could symbolize the satanic and color of hellfire. (5) 
    • At the universities of Padua and Bologna, red was symbolic of medicine. (6) 
  • Reds - Medieval
    • ’A lover wears vermilion, like blood’ (later Middle Ages). (7)  
    • A sign of otherworldly power in European legends and folktales. Also, protection: red thread to ward off witches, red coral necklaces to guard against illness. (8)  
    • Sometimes the color of the Virgin Mary’s robes. (5)
    • The color of kings, identified with kingly virtues of valor and success in war. Also, fire. (9)  
    • A rich man. (10) 
  • Oranges - Renaissance
    • The peasants and middle ranked persons imitated upper class reds by dyeing their Renaissance clothes with cheaper orange-red and russet dyes. (11)  
  • Oranges - Medieval - nothing currently noted.
  • Yellows - Renaissance
    • In almost all Italian cities, a prostitute was required to wear yellow. (6)
    • In Venice, Jews were required to sew a yellow circle onto clothing. (6)
  • Yellows - Medieval
    • In later Middle Ages, a harmonious color expressing the balance between the red of justice and the white of compassion. (12)  
    • Late 1300s in Venice, a prostitute is known by her yellow dress. (13) 
  • Greens - Renaissance
    • Youth, especially in May. (6) 
    • In the secular sphere, chastity. (14)  
    • Love and joy. (4)
  • Greens - Medieval – nothing currently noted.
  • Blues - Renaissance
    • Light blue represented a young marriageable woman. (6)
    • In England, blue was the traditional color of servitude. Servants or members of a City company were to wear bright blue or gray Renaissance clothing. (15)  
    • Indigo or deep blue means chastity in the sacred sphere. (14) 
    • “. . . turquoise was a sure sign of jealousy . . .” (4)
  • Blues - Medieval
    • In the late Middle Ages, blue replaced royal purple in the mantle of the Virgin Mary and robes and heraldry (especially in France). (16)  
    • A lover wears blue for fidelity (late Middle Ages). (7)
    • By the 1300s, peasants owned blue Medieval clothing due to woad dye being readily available. (17) 
    • Early Middle Ages, blue was associated with darkness, evil. Later blue was associated with light. (18) 
  • Purples - Renaissance and Medieval
    • During the Renaissance, the Medici family in Florence, Italy wore purple. (6)
    • Since Antiquity, the color of kings and emperors, but mostly nonexistent in Renaissance and Medieval era due to near extinction of the snail used to make imperial purple. Imperial purple disappeared in 1453. (9) 
  • Browns - Renaissance
    • Modest and religious dress. (19)  
    • Beige was the color of poverty. (20) 
    • In England, dull browns were worn by lower classes. (15)
  • Browns - Medieval - nothing currently noted.
  • Grays - Renaissance
    • Modest and religious dress. (17) 
    • The color of poverty. (20) 
    • Female slaves in 1400s Florence were constrained to wear course woolens and no bright colors. (21) 
    • In England, servants or members of a City company were to wear bright blue or gray. Grays for the lower classes. (15) 
  • Grays - Medieval
    • Color of peasant clothing (eighth century, by order of Charlemagne). (21)
  • Blacks - Renaissance
    • Seriousness. (22)  
    • Mourning. (6)
    • Color of clothing for nobility and wealthy, representing refinement and distinction. (23)  
    • Worn by Philip the Good, Duke of Burgandy after 1419 as a symbol to the French that he did not forget the death of his father. “His black is at once dangerous, retributive . . .” (24)

      Painting of Philip the Good, 
      Duke of Burgundy 
      by Rogier van der Weyden, 
      from a dedication page of the 
      Chroniques de Hainault, 1400-1464. [
      Public domain], via Wikimedia.(25) 

    • Worn by king’s ministers as a sign of their selves being submitted to the will of the king. Also, symbolizes defeat, humiliation and humility. (26) 
    • In the 1400s, black began to suggest smartness, importance, sophistication, great dignity and state. Also, sad, melancholy, a humble color worn by mourners and monks. An expensive color to produce indicating social distinction and thus not worn by the lower classes. (26)
    • In the 1400s, merchants regularly wear black. (27) 
    • Traditional color of Venice, and attributed to piety and virtue. Piety, to a Venetian, was that which increased the empire. (28)  
    • A high fashion color in the mid-1500s. (29) 
    • A Venetian senator wore black. (13)
    • In Genoa, Italy, the Doge and aristocracy wore black. (6)
    • In England, lower class women wore primarily black. (15) 
  • Blacks - Medieval
    • Black worn by a melancholy lover yearning with love. (7) 
    • Color of peasant clothing (eighth century, by order of Charlemagne). Note that the quality of black may not be the same as the black referenced above for the Renaissance period, thus less expensive and accessible to peasants. (21) 
    • According to Pope Innocent III about 1200, black is color of penance and mourning, used for Advent and Lent. (30) 
    • The color of mourning in Brittany. (6)
  • Whites - Renaissance
    • White is purity for women and chastity for men. (6)
    • At the universities of Padua and Bologna, white was symbolic of the humanities. (6)
  • Whites - Medieval
    • A lover wears white for purity (later Middle Ages). (7)
    • According to Pope Innocent III about 1200, white is color of innocence and purity, and was used on the feasts of the Virgin. (30)
    • Compassion (later Middle Ages). (32)  
    • In France, white was the color of mourning. (33) 

Why Color Symbols are not Always in Agreement

Color symbolism during the Renaissance and Medieval periods has much in common with color
symbolism today. Consider, for example, the current meanings of colors. In present-day U.S.
culture, black is usually associated with mourning, unless it is in the form of a little, black cocktail
dress in which case it signifies sophistication and elegance. White means purity in the form of a
wedding dress, unless you are in China or Japan where it means mourning. Blue is for feeling
sad unless you win a blue first prize ribbon. Green is for youth and it also means ‘go’ at a
stoplight. (34) Stop at red and yet on Valentine’s Day send your loved one a red heart. (35)

In a similar manner, the symbolic meanings of color during the Renaissance and Medieval
periods differed over time, and depended on local culture and geographic area. As John
Gage points out in his book Color and Meaning, colour-perceptions are unstable, making it
difficult to confidently name colour-meanings and preferences in cultures. (36)

The primary problem for students of the Renaissance and Medieval era is a lack of universally
agreed-upon symbols. Not only was there more than one system of color symbols in place, but
the different systems contradicted each other. For instance, “The regal purple of Christ’s robe
may be the same as the scarlet of sin.”(37) Or another example, in the 1500s, writers in
Venice, Italy “. . . began to compare the various opinions and to find that they had very little in
common. In a series of dialogues on love, where, of course, the expressive force of colors
was seen to play a vital role, Mario Equicola in 1525 admitted the dangers of talking of colors
at all, because of the differences in ancient and modern terms and because different authorities
gave different equivalents for the colours of the elements or the planets; worse, ‘the meanings of
colours are somewhat different among the Italians, the Spanish and the French’. . . An assortment
of colours according to their meaning, said Morato, might even have a very disagreeable
aesthetic effect.”(38)

Nevertheless, it is possible to see that some colors were considered more valuable and had more
significant meanings than others. Often these were the colors with high economic value, like red
and purple. Since, the economic values tended to be the same for much of Europe, general
conclusions can be drawn. However, if historical accuracy for clothing colors is important, then
focusing a particular region and time period is recommended. 

Source is
All sources the author used are cited on the blog.

Symbolic Color Meanings

Symbolic Color Meanings Throughout the World

The following is a basic list of some symbolic color meanings throughout the world. 
  • It is by no means a comprehensive list. 
  •  I suggest you do your own research about the country or culture you are working with, to establish what colors are currently acceptable. 
Times change and old associations may be slowly altered over the years. 
Western cultures have adopted some Eastern color uses while some Eastern cultures have adopted Western ideas. 
The Internet has allowed people to learn about other cultures and to adopt what they like from those cultures.

Therefore, the following meanings are traditional and not necessarily in current use in these cultures.

Cultural Color Meanings of Red:

  • energy, excitement, action 
  • danger 
  • love, passion 
  • a warning to stop
  • anger
  • Christmas combined with green
  • Valentine's Day

  • prosperity
  • good fortune
  • worn by brides
  • symbol of joy when combined with white

  • the color of good luck and celebration 
  • vitality, happiness, long life
  • used as a wedding color
  • used in many ceremonies from funerals to weddings
  • used for festive occasions
  • traditionally worn on Chinese New Year to bring luck and prosperity

  • color of purity, fertility, love, beauty
  • wealth, opulence and power
  • used in wedding ceremonies 
  • a sign of a married woman
  • also color of fear and fire

  • color for Sunday

  • life
  • anger and danger

  • success, triumph

South Africa: 
  • color of mourning
  • usually reserved for ceremonies
  • worn by chiefs
  • associated with the Bolsheviks and Communism, 
  • means beautiful in Russian language
  • often used in marriage ceremonies

Australian Aborigines: 
  • represents the land and earth 
  • ceremonial color

  • sacrifice, sin

  • sacrifice, passion, love

Cultural Color Meanings of Pink

  • caring and nurturing 
  • love and romance
  • feminine

  • feminine

  • feminine color 
  • baby girls

  • pink was traditionally used for baby boys - now it is more common for it to be used for baby girls

  • well-liked by both males and females

  • color for Tuesday

  • trust

Cultural Color Meanings of Orange

  • affordable or inexpensive items
  • Halloween, combined with black

  • happiness
  • spirituality

  • color for Thursday

  • religious color for Protestants 
  • appears on the Irish flag along with white for peace and green for Catholics

  • color of the Dutch Royal Family

  • Saffron, a soft orange color, is considered an auspicious and sacred color

Cultural Color Meanings of Yellow

  • happiness, joy
  • hope 
  • cowardice
  • caution, warning of hazards and hazardous substances

  • sacred
  • imperial

  • sacred
  • imperial, royalty
  • honor
  • masculine color

  • sacred and auspicious 
  • the Symbol of a Merchant

  • considered auspicious as the bright yellow flower "cassia fistula" is a national symbol. 
  • represents Buddhism. 
  • yellow is considered the royal color, the color of Monday which is the King's birthday
  • color of mourning

  • color of mourning

  • used to label Jews in the Middle Ages

Middle East:
  • happiness
  • prosperity

  • courage 
  • beauty and refinement
  • aristocracy
  • cheerfulness

  • happiness, joy 
  • cowardice, weakness 
  • hazard warning

  • jealousy

  • sadness

  • Usually reserved for those of high rank

  • wisdom

  • yellow star badges of the Middle Ages and post war Germany and Poland

Cultural Color Meanings of Green

  • lucky color in most western cultures
  • spring, new birth, regeneration
  • nature and environmental awareness 
  • color for 'go' at traffic lights
  • Saint Patrick's Day 
  • Christmas combined with red
  • jealousy
  • greed

  • new life, regeneration and hope
  • fertility

  • new life, regeneration and hope
  • fertility 
  • disgrace - giving a Chinese man a green hat indicates his wife is cheating on him 
  • exorcism
  • studies show it is generally not good for packaging

  • the color of Islam, 
  • hope, 
  • new beginnings
  • harvest 
  • virtue

  • color for Wednesday

  • eternal life
  • youthfulness
  • freshness

  • a forbidden color

  • religious color for Irish Catholics 
  • color symbol of Ireland - the Emerald Isle
  • not good for packaging

North Africa: 
  • corruption and the drug culture

  • hope
  • spring

Middle East:
  • color of Islam
  • strength
  • fertility
  • luck

Saudi Arabia:
  • wealth and prestige

South America:
  • death

  • money
  • jealousy

Cultural Color Meanings of Blue

Generally the safest color to use world wide

  • trust and authority
  • conservative, 
  • corporate 
  • peace and calm
  • depression, 
  • sadness 
  • "something blue" bridal tradition
  • masculine color
  • baby boys

  • immortality

  • immortality
  • associated with pornography and 'blue films' 
  • feminine color

  •  Lord Krishna 
  • national sports color
  • everyday life

  • color of mourning

  • color for Friday

  • light blue was traditionally the color for baby girls - now it is more common to use it for baby boys

  • defeat, trouble

  • mourning
  • trust
  • serenity

  • color of mourning 
  • heaven and spirituality
  • immortality

  • Coat of Arms

  • virtue
  • protection - to ward off evil

Middle East: 
  • protection

  • associated with soap

US Politics: 
  • liberalism

UK & European Politics: 

  • conservatism

Religious Beliefs in Many Cultures: 
  • Christianity: Christ's color 
  • Judaism: holiness 
  • Hinduism: the color of Krishna 
  • Catholicism: color of Mary's robe

Cultural Color Meanings of Purple

  • Royalty
  • spirituality
  • wealth and fame
  • high ranking positions of authority 
  • Military Honor (Purple Heart)

  • wealth

  • sorrow
  • comforting

  • privilege 
  • wealth

  • color of mourning for widows
  • color for Saturday

  • death and mourning

  • Royalty

  • mourning
  • death, crucifixion

Cultural Color Meanings of White

  • brides and weddings 
  • angels
  • hospitals, doctors 
  • peace - the white dove
  • purity and cleanliness

  • death, mourning and funerals 
  • sadness

  • death and mourning
  • virginity and purity
  • humility
  • age
  • misfortune

  • unhappiness 
  • symbol of sorrow in death of family member 
  • traditionally the only color a widow is allowed to wear
  • funerals 
  • peace and purity

  • White carnation symbolizes death

  • white elephants are considered auspicious, 
  • white symbolizes purity in Buddhism

  • purity, innocence, 
  • morality, 
  • birth and death

Middle East:
  • purity
  • mourning

Cultural Color Meanings of Black

  • power, control, intimidation
  • funerals, death, mourning
  • rebellion

  • wealth, health and prosperity

  • color for young boys

  • evil, negativity, darkness
  • lack of appeal 
  • anger and apathy
  • used to ward off evil

  • color of mystery and the night
  • may be associated with feminine energy - either evil and a threat or provocative and alluring

  • unhappiness, 
  • bad luck, evil

  • unhappiness, 
  • bad luck, evil

Middle East:
  • evil
  • mystery

  • Age and wisdom

Australian Aborigines: 
  • ceremonial color
  • commonly used in their artworks

Cultural Color Meanings of Brown

  • down-to-earth, practical
  • comfortable 
  • stable, dependable, 
  • wholesome

  • In Chinese Horoscopes brown is the color for earth

  • Color of mourning

  • Sign of disapproval

Cultural Color Meanings of Magenta

  • Creative, innovative and artistic
  • Imaginative and outrageous
  • Loving, compassionate and kind
  • Encourages emotional balance
  • Spiritual yet practical
  • Non-conformist

  • Official color of the Union Progress and Democracy political party

  • Used by the Amsterdam based Magenta Foundation in support of anti-racism

source link here