Purple 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.
- Fear of purple: porphyrophobia
- 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.
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.
- 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.
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
hyacinthine / hyacinth
hyacinthine / hyacinth
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.