Saturday, November 26, 2016

How Purple Got It's Name

Purple is my favourite colour, I'm not sure why or when it became my favourite I only know it is.
So what is the history of the colour purple? The word “purple” comes from the Old English word “purpul” which is from the Latin “purpura” and the Greek word “porphyra”.
This was the name of the Tyrian purple dye manufactured in classical antiquity. In human colour psychology, purple is associated with royalty and nobility because Tyrian purple was only affordable to the elite.
Purples are the shades of colour occurring between red and blue. The line connecting the extreme spectral colours red and violet is know as the “line of purples”.
While some confusion exists concerning the colour names “purple” and “violet” Purple is typically defined as as a mixture of red and blue light, where as violet is a specific spectral colour.
The first synthetic dye was discovered by a teenager in 1856, who accidentally made a purple dye that soon became the height of fashion in England. William Henry Perkins dye would retain it's colour.
Until that point, purple dyes always faded very fast. Perkin initially called his new dye “ Tyrian Purple” but it was later known as “Mauve”.
Mauve quickly became all the rage in English high fashion.
Purple was also worn by Roman magistrates; it became the imperial colour worn by the rulers of the Byzantine Empire and the Holy Roman Empire and later by Roman Catholic bishops. Similarly in Japan, the colour is traditionally associated with the Emperor and aristocracy.
The early purple dye was made using snails, they first had to be gathered, thousands of them, their shells cracked, the snail removed. Mountains of empty shells have been found at ancient sites. The snails were left to soak, then a tiny gland was removed and the juice extracted and put in a basin, which was placed in the sunlight.
Then a transformation took place, it turned white, then yellow-green, then green, violet, then a red that turned darker and darker. This process had to be stopped at exactly the right time to obtain the the desired colour.
The process was so long, difficult and expensive it then became the colour of kings.
So the colour purple has a long history, and regal standing and if it was good enough for royalty its good enough for me.

But really if purple had no such background I would still have a passion for purple.