Meanings and Associations
The color purple is said to be uplifting, calming, creative, and spiritual. It combines the stability of blue and the energy of red. In Christianity, purple is associated with Advent and Lent. Due to it's sense of mystic qualities, purple is a color often well liked by creative or eccentric people. The singer Prince is known for his love of the color as well as his hit song "Purple Rain". "Purple Haze" by Jimi Hendrix and "Flying Purple People Eater" by Sheb Wooley are other examples of of the color used in pop music. Purple is also the color of the highest denomination poker chip = $5,000.
Purple is often associated with royalty - and for good reason! In ancient times, a dye called Tyrian purple was made from a secretion produced by several species of sea snails. Extracting this dye back then involved tens of thousands of snails and substantial labor, and as a result, the dye was highly valued and very expensive. Usually only royalty could afford to have their garments dyed purple. Later, Julius and Augustus Caesar, Emperors of Rome, 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! By the time of Alexander Severus, who was Emperor in Rome from 222 to 235 AD, all the workers who made Imperial Purple worked for the Emperor. Later, magistrates were allowed to wear togas decorated with purple ribbons.
Positives and Negatives
Purple is fortunate in the world of colors because there is very little negative connotations associated with it. Purple symbolizes power, nobility, luxury, and ambition - all positive qualities. The military awards a Purple Heart to soldiers wounded in battle while lavender is associated in both smell and color with serenity and relaxation. At it's worst, too much purple is said to represent moodiness.
Purple holds various meanings across the globe and through different cultures.
- In Thailand, purple is worn by a widow mourning her husband's death.
- In Tibet, amethyst is considered to be sacred to Buddha and rosaries are often fashioned from it.
- A man with the rank of Roman Emperor was referred to as “The Purple” — a name that came from the color of the robe he wore.
- In Japan, the color purple signifies wealth and position.
- Purple was the royal color of the Caesars.
- In pysanky, the traditional Ukrainian form of egg dying, purple speaks of fasting, faith, patience, and trust.
- Purple denotes virtue and faith in Egypt.
- In Tudor Britain, violet was the color of mourning, as well as the color of religious fervor.
- Traditionally, in Iran, purple is a color of what is to come. A sun or moon that looks purple during an eclipse is an omen of bloodshed within the year.
Color Value Variations
Light purple evokes romantic and nostalgic feelings. It also calms and relaxes. Dark purple evokes gloom and sad feelings. It can cause frustration.
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