Monday, January 5, 2009

Historical Monday: The Color Blue

Square of blue from Wikipedia

Who doesn't love the color blue in one form or another? While the cool side of the color wheel may not be my favorite, I do favor using and wearing teals and dark blues of all sorts. I have been trying to learn a little about the history of colors. I hope to make Historical Monday a regular blog title, although I am not sure that it will always be about color!


It's interesting how the word 'blue' seems to sound much the same in many languages. Originating form Middle English 'blue' or 'blwe', although the French word 'bleu' & the English word 'blue' both originated from the Germanic. The English language has used the color blue to denote sadness, in part because the Greek God Zeus would cause it to rain when he was sad (crying). Blue was used to symbolize Zeus' tears.

Blue pigments include azurite,ultramarine,cerulean blue, cobalt and Prussian blue (milori blue).
In Renaissance Italy, Ultramarine the the most expensive color of all - next to gold

In Hindu philosophy blue represents the fifth chakra - which governs the throat. In Thailand, blue is associated with Friday (in the Thai Solar calendar) and anyone born on a Friday may adopt blue as "their color". Blue is the most preferred color for men.

The earliest blue pigment used was Lapis Lazuli which is found is very few places in the world. Mines are located in Chile, Zambia, a few are located in Siberia, but the bulk of the mines are located in Afghanistan. The ancient Egyptians believed that blue had healing powers and that it was the color of truthfulness & honesty. Blue was the color of eternal life in ancient Egypt, & was worn only by Pharohs & kings. Horus represented the color blue because he was the keeper of the heavens and the sky.

Cobalt blue:
Smalt is a pigment made from cobalt blue and has been known of and used since the Middle ages. It is only since 1777, however, when two men named Gahn and Wenzel discovered the color that we know as cobalt when they were researching cobalt compounds for other uses. The color cobalt as we now it was not produced, however until 1803-4.

If any of you have more "blue" history and lore I would love to hear about it!

Sources used :
, Colors:
The Story of Dyes & Pigments
By Guineau Delamare and Ber Francoisand
& Color: A Natuarl History of the Palette by Victoria Finley


Guzzisue said...

In Europe, woad was the only source for blue dye available until the end of the sixteenth century when trade routes began bringing indigo from the far easr,
yes, the ancient brits used to get their woad on !! :-)

Mary lin Huskamp said...

Blue is a BEAUTIFUL color -- no matter the shade.
Best Wishes for 2009!

Laura said...

Interesting post, Marie! Blue has been my favorite for a long time. So nice to know a little of its history!

Deb said...

I'm busy sorting and cleaning in the studio and find that I have more than twice the "blues" of any other color - and I was born on a friday.

Robin said...

In a study some years ago, the favorite color of children 4-6 years old was yellow. The least favorite was blue. A mixed group of adults (M & F) voted exactly opposite to the children... Tell that to the child within! Robin A.

Sandy said...

Blue has always been my favorite color-I wear lots of it.

sandra wyman said...

My favourite blues are in the blue-violet range - like ultramarine/lapis lazuli - always knew I had expensive tastes!
Love this post - looking forward to more.

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