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History Behind the Purple Color

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What I know about the color purple is that it takes primary colors, red and blue, to make it. I believe that makes it a secondary color. I know some forms of the color purple are lilac, magenta, or lavender. Purple is the color of royalty and richness. I want to say it is the color of lust. I don’t know much about the history or when the color was discovered. Which is what I will change today.

The color purple originated the Phoenician city of Tyre. It was produced as a dye that was in very high demand due to a very intricate production process. The main ingredient of the dye was the mucus from the sea snail, Bolinus brandaris. The dye-makers would crack open the snail’s shell, extract and expose the mucus to sunlight for a specific amount of time. An immense amount of mucus was needed in order to make even just a tiny amount of dye. Even though it took so much mucus to produce, the sea snails never became extinct and they can still be found today. The process of making the purple dye was also said to be incredibly rancid. So the harvesters were positioned at the edge of town because while being a very popular good, a lot of people complained about the smell.

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Due to this being such a picky process, purple became the color of royalty and riches because only the highest people could afford it. The purple dye became so sought after that laws were soon put into place to protect the use of it. Julius Caesar was one of the important figures that was known to wear the color purple. It is said that he visited Cleopatra, where she had purple sails, curtains, and chairs, so Julius came home in a purple toga. He declared that only he could wear it.

Along the path of history, the Earl of Surrey, Henry Howard, was tried for treason against Henry VIII. Part of the evidence against Howard was that he was seen wearing purple. At the time, only the king could wear it. Sticking with the family tree of Henry VIII, yet in Queen Elizabeth I’s reign, she had still forbidden anyone outside of the royal family from wearing purple. The dye was only affordable for the richest of the rich. Some of the wealthy couldn’t even afford this beautiful color. Roman emperor Aurelian was known for not allowing his wife to buy purple clothing because it costed so much.

Today, purple still remains a finer color. Even after William Henry Perkin, a student at the Royal College of Chemistry, accidentally created a synthetic formula for purple in 1856. He was working in his home lab, trying to find a way of making quinine, a treatment for malaria. Perkin had added hydrogen and oxygen to coal tar. This mixture had left a black residue in his scientific instruments. When that residue was made into a solution, it resulted in the color “mauve.”

Purple is a secondary color combination of blue and red. The feelings often associated with the color purple are power and ambition. Purple also represents extravagance, creativity, peace, mystery and magic. Purple can also be associated with spirituality. Lighter hues of purple symbolize feminine energy and delicacy, along with romantic feelings. Deep shades of purple can sometimes represent sadness, gloom and frustration. It’s the bright rich purple that represents royalty. Colors that would be good to combine with purple would be orange, yellows or pink. Combining those three with each other would create a very energetic color combination. Purple could also be paired with plum, or even various shades of green like lime or mint.

Before conducting my research, I didn’t know that purple had such an interesting story behind the creation of it. I almost thought that someone had taken the color red and mixed it with the color blue to get purple, but it was a much more sophisticated story than that. I was also wrong about the feelings behind the color purple. I thought it would be related to lust, but that was only for the lighter shades of purple. I had also forgot that purple was related to religious aspects. Growing up, I was Lutheran and the cross would sometimes be dressed in purple cloths. So, finding that piece of information made sense to me. After doing this research, It has made purple have a deeper meaning to me and it might almost now be my favorite color.

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