A Writers Guide to Purple

purplePurple is mystical. Purple is spiritual. Purple is the color of royalty and nobility. It is also the color of creativity. In chromotherapy, purple is used to calm someone who is over stimulated or to energize someone who is suffers from depression. Indigo (purple-blue) shades alleviate skin problems.

Purple is the color between red and blue. In color theory, purple is a secondary color. It’s complementary color is yellow.

Is it purple or violet?
I could get high tech here with spectral color vs. non-spectral color, but I won’t. I’ll just say which word you use depends on the context you use it. In common English, purple is any color between red and blue. So, violet and indigo are, by common standards, purples. Painters consider purple to have more red tones while violet has more blue tones.

Chromophobia*

  • Fear of purple: porphyrophobia

Symbolism

  • Purple is creativity, wisdom, dignity, and independence.
  • Purple is luxury and ambition.
  • Purple is the color of magic and psychic power.
  • Purple foreshadows or adds emphasis to a scene: asexualness, illusions, the fantastic, mystical, ominous, and/or the ethereal.
violets

violets

Superstitions and Beliefs

  • In Thailand, purple is the color of Saturday. It is good luck to wear purple on Saturday. It is unlucky on Thursdays.
  • American Indians associate purple face paint and war paint with power, mystery, and magic.
  • Purple increases perceptions and healing.
  • Purple is the color of mourning in Thailand.
  • Light purple or lavender roses means, “I am enchanted with you.”
  • Violets (the flower) represent spiritual wisdom, humility, and faithfulness.
  • To find something purple is good luck.
  • Bonfires of large thistles are burnt to the ground on the eve of St. John, St. Anthony, and St. Peters day. On the following day, if a girl finds that the center of the thistle still has faint purple color, their love with prosper.
  • It’s bad luck to wear purple to an Italian opera.
  • It is bad luck to wear purple to a wedding as it will “fade” the love of the bride and groom since the color purple fades the soonest.
  • In Christianity, violet represents the sin of pride.
  • Violet represents the seventh (crown) chakra.

Purple History

  • In heraldry, purple (purpure) signifies temperance, regal, justice, royal majesty, and sovereignty.
  • Throughout history, purple robes have been worn by royalty.
  • Empresses gave birth in the Purple Chamber. The offspring were known as “born to the purple,” to distinguish them from emperors who seized the title.
  • Ite Emperor Charlemagne (~742-814) was crowned wearing a Tyrian purple mantle. He was also buried in a shroud of the same color.
  • After the fall of Constantinople (1453), purple lost its imperial status and scarlet, made from cochineal insects, became the royal color in Europe.
  • In 1464, Pope Paul II decreed that cardinals should no longer wear Tyrian purple, and instead wear scarlet.
  • In 1856, an eighteen-year-old British chemistry student named William Henry Perkin created the first stable synthetic purple by accident. (He was trying to make a synthetic quinine.) The purple shade was called mauveine, and eventually shortened to mauve.
  • Mauve became fashionable shortly after its invention. Queen Victoria wore a silk gown dyed with ‘mauveine’ to the Royal Exhibition of 1862.
  • During Nazi Germany, inmates that were members of non-conformist religious groups were marked by purple triangles.
  • In the early 20th century, purple, green and white were the colors of the Women’s Suffrage movement.
  • In the 1970s, purple became the color of the women’s liberation movement.
spiny dye-murex

spiny dye-murex, the largest are about 90 mm or 3.5 inches

Pigments & Dyes

  • Purple in prehistoric art was drawn with sticks of manganese and hematite powder. (Pech Merle cave and other Neolithic sites in France 16,000 and 25,000 B.C.E.)
  • The first purple dye, Tyrian purple, came from dye extracted from a snail sea snail, spiny dye-murex, found on the shores of the city of Tyre in ancient Phoenicia. They extracted the gland from the snail, then left it in the sun where it would change colors (white to yellow-green to green to violet, and then if they didn’t stop the process to red which turned darker and darker). It took about 12,000 snail to extract 1.5 grams–about enough for a handkerchief.
  • Han purple was the first synthetic purple. It was invented in China around 700 BC. Han purple was very unstable.
  • The ancient Greeks and Hebrews made orcein purple or purple moss. It was made from a lichen called archil or dyer’s moss (Roccella tinctoria) and combined with an ammoniac (usually urine).
  • In western Polynesia, purple dye was made from sea urchins.
  • In Central America, dye from the purpura sea snail.
  • Blackberry and mulberry were used as dye, but they faded quickly.

Phrases and Sayings

Purple cow – something remarkable, eye-catching, unusual (it is also a shake made by blending vanilla ice cream and grape drink)
Purple haze – state of confusion or euphoria, possibly drug-induced
Purple prose – exaggerated, ornate, or flowery writing that breaks the flow and draws attention to itself
Purple passages or purple patches – small sections of purple prose
Purple patch – a streak of good luck or success
Purple speech – profanity, raunchy language
Purple squirrel – a job candidate with precisely the right education, experience, and qualifications
Shrinking violet – someone who is extremely shy

Meanings of Shades and Tints of Purple

  • Light purple or lavender: malleability, romance, and nostalgia
  • Dark purple: gloom, sadness, frustration, royalty, and richness
  • Mauve (a reddish purple): world consciousness
  • Violet: concentration, quietness, ethereal, sensuality, and sacrifice
  • Blue violet: mystical

Words for Purple

Light Purples
lavender
lilac
heliotrope
mallow
mauve
periwinkle
perse
puce
thistle
wisteria
~
Blue-Violets
amaranthine
amethyst
Byzantium
eggplant
grape
gridelin
heliotrope
hyacinthine / hyacinth
ianthine
indigo
lavender
lilac
livid
mallow
mauve
orchid
periwinkle
perse
thistle
violet
wisteria
Medium Purples
amaranthine
amethyst
hyacinthine / hyacinth
indigo
liseran
magenta
mulberry
orchid
phlox
violet
~
Red-Violets
aubergine
burgundy
claret
damson
liseran
magenta
mulberry
phlox
puce
plum
raisin
Tyrian purple
wine
Dark Purples
aubergine
burgundy
Byzantium
claret
damson
eggplant
grape
gridelin
ianthine
livid
plum
raisin
Tyrian purple
wine

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Purple and You

Are you wearing purple right now?
You are very intuitive today. Life is fascinating.
Are you wearing a dark purple?
You probably don’t want people bugging you today.
Are you wearing lavender?
You are compassionate and sensitive today.

Look in your closet. Is purple a predominate color in your wardrobe?
You have high aspirations. You are intuitive and want the best in everything.

Do you just dislike the color purple?
You feel trapped by an authority figure or suffer from creative block or both.

Do you drive a purple car?
You are intuitive and creative.

*Chromophobia, also known as chromatophobia or chrematophobia, is a persistent, irrational fear of, or aversion to, colors and is usually a conditioned response. Color phobis are often caused by a traumatic experience from the past, usually childhood. The color becomes associated with the trauma but the individual may not remember the event or realize the connection. It could also be culturally related with meanings attached to the color. Conditioning or brain chemistry may also be the cause. While actual clinical phobias to color are rare, colors can elicit hormonal responses and psychological reactions. Reactions include heart palpations, panic, sweating, breathlessness, nausea, shaking, dizziness, and dry mouth. Treatments include behavioral therapy, hypnotherapy, exposure therapy, and psychotherapy.

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Use purple wisely in writing, painting,
decorating, and in your wardrobe!
How often do you wear purple?colorindex

 

Sources:
The wardrobe portion of this post was created using The Complete Book of Color by Suzy Chizzari.
The car information from HubPages.
If It’s Purple, Someone’s Gonna Die by Patti Bellantoni
snail shell: M.Violante, Wikipedia.org
awesome purple sphere and series logo by me!
violets by clipart.com
Share! It will make you happy, trust me.

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19 Comments

  1. I have not worn purple for years. But I have a buddy that is a Texas Christian fan and he has an entire wardrobe of purple.

  2. Ha. My office is painted purple and blue. No wonder I can't concentrate on my work! The creative energy is flowing! :o) Great post!

  3. Hey, it so happens I am wearing a tee shirt that is a shade between red and blue, which you define as purple!

  4. hehe What a great post! I've just been given a big cuddly purple cardigan which I have lived in for the last three days! I can't bear to take it off, but I guess it is in need of a wash!

  5. When my daughter was little, everything had to be purple (not appreciated by her younger sister when it came to hand-me downs). But who knew purple could be so interesting? Thanks for sharing.

  6. I have friends that are purple fanatics – even their billards table is purple.
    Might have to try that purple cow drink!

  7. This is fascinating. And it makes sense to me; I'm forever drawn to purpley blues.

  8. I don't wear much purple, but it's my sister's favorite color. Last night I dreamed about something purple – a room, I think. Maybe some clothing, too, not sure. That's all I remember. Wonder what that all means?

  9. My living room is painted plum purple.

    I feel that it somehow keeps us grounded, and enlightened simultaneously….T.V., Mags, books, games, conversations..etc.

    Cheers!

  10. I don't wear much purple, but I do love purple flowers. Did you know that just having purple fabric was once punishable by death? Only Byzantine royalty was allowed to wear it.

  11. Lavender is my absolute favorite, esp. in flowers. I find it very relaxing.

  12. I am wearing purple today! And life is indeed fascinating. 🙂

    Actually have quite a bit of purple in my wardrobe. Purple is pretty.

  13. Interesting purple facts. I have always liked the color purple but rarely wear any shades of it. I do have a couple shirts with purple in them, but don't wear them often.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

  14. I love the color purple and have been told it looks good on me. However, I have few clothes that are purple. Not sure why. Enjoyed the post.

    Mason
    Thoughts in Progress

  15. Purple has ALWAYS been my favorite color. ALWAYS. I am a loyal purplist and always know a sense of kinship when I meet others who adore the color. I wear it only in moderation, though thankfully my daughter now plays sports at a high school where purple is their main color, so my collection is growing.

    I really enjoy your color blogs!

  16. This is a great grouuping of colors here on your blog. Thanks so much for mentioning TBM. 🙂 Hugs!

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  17. I wear very little, own very little, and think very little about purple…uh oh!

  18. Hilary Melton-Butcher said…
    Hi.. I've loved your colour series – so interesting ..

    Purple and I don't go usually – though in my very slim days I had a lovely dress with tiny turquoise splodges on it .. I thought I was the bees knees in it!

    Though I love the colour of African violets – big and bold .. and purpley blue rich flowers .. today I'm in a dress predominantly of rich pink and rich blue .. so could be purple if mixed gently!

    Go well .. thank you .. Hilary

  19. I don’t wear much purple either. I realized when I wrote this post that I have only owed one purple piece of clothing at a time either a deep purple shirt or a lavender sweater.

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