Hello colour lover!
Purple is having a bit of a revival at the moment. Many trend forecasting companies announcing that every tint, tone and shade of purple is trending for autumn 2022.
So I thought I would share with you some fun facts and curiosities about the colour purple where we go on a colourful journey of accidental discoveries, royal degrees and and car colours. Here are my top 5 favourite facts about this wonderful hue!
1. Purple dye – a colourful accident!
Imagine creating a dye by accident. That’s exactly what happened to William Henry Perkin. In 1856 at just 18 years old, by all accounts Perkin was trying to synthesise quinine, which was a Victorian treatment against malaria.
What he created by accident was a purple liquid. This was a significant moment because up until then purple was so expensive it was worn only by royalty and the church. The first purple was made from the mucus of sea snails. It took an astonishing 12,000 snails to produce just over one gram.
So we have Perkin to thank for bringing purple to the masses which enabled the creation of all its tints, tones and shades to be worn by everyone.
2. The many names for Purple
Perkin called his discovery ‘mauve’, apparently the French word for a flower with purple petals. I was thinking of other purple names and most seemed to be named after nature, like heather, violet, lilac and lavender. There is royal purple which will be no surprise when you read about purple in colour in culture below. Oh and we can’t forget aubergine. Can you think of any other names for purple?
3. The world’s ‘rarest’ car colour
Have you ever seen a purple car? When I lived in Notting Hill I used to walk passed a cute little purple car. Even though it was a tiny thing it was noticable because of its colour – the only purple car in the neighbourhood!
Apparently they are the ‘rarest’ colour car if we just consider the standard main colours that is. I don’t think I’ve seen one since. It looks like if you want a purple car you just might need to order a customised spray!
4. Colour in culture Purple
Being such a rare colour, the Romans declared purple a status symbol. Julius Caesar decreed that no one else was allowed to wear it except for himself. Elizabeth I wore purple to her coronation banquet in 1559, and, when she died in 1603, her coffin was draped in purple velvet. Since these times purple in the west has come to be the colour of royalty.
In Thailand purple is the colour of mourning for Thai widows to signify sorrow.
5. The psychology of Purple
Purple ‘violet’, is a combination of the power, energy and strength of red with the integrity and truth of blue. It’s the colour favoured by those who seek connections with a higher realm, the universe and beyond. It’s the colour we link with spiritual awareness and reflection, which is why it’s favoured by those following a spiritual vocation or for meditating, for self-contemplation and the search for higher truth.
Want to learn more?
Extracts from The Little Book of Colour.
Head over to buy The Little Book of Colour where you can find out How to Use the Psychology of Colour to Transform your Life.
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Wishing you a colourful day!
Purple title photo by Photo by Andrew Buchanan on Unsplash
Purple fabric Photo by Daniele Levis Pelusi on Unsplash
Purple VW Beetle Photo by Photo by Elena Kuchko on Unsplash
Purple Church stain glass Photo by Pascal Bernardon on Unsplash
Tones of purple – Karen Haller
Originally published 4th September 2020. Updated 10th August 2022.