Black is a color that is often used to portray something evil, depressing, scary and even death in the Western civilization. The black color meaning is often negatively charged, as in “blackmail”, “blacklist” and “black hole” etc. Black is also a very powerful color that symbolizes class, elegance, and wealth. Stylish clothing is often designed in black, everything from suits to sexy black dresses, to formal black tie outfits. Black combined with other colors can have a very strong impact.
Origin of the Word Black
The origin of the word black stretch back to a group of tribes known as the Proto-Indo-Europeans. According to etymologists, these ancient groups likely used the rather un-elegant sounding word bhleg- to mean burn or gleam.
As cultures evolved, bhleg- evolved as well. While it retained its original meaning, the word became phlegein in Greek and flagrare in Latin. However, the word started to take the road to its modern form through the English mother tongue, Proto-Germanic.
Old English speakers, the Anglo-Saxons, transformed the word into blaec and began to associate it directly with the color. At the same time, they were also using the word blac to mean white or bright. The words were so similar that translators are sometimes left scratching their heads as they try to determine whether the writer was describing something that was black or white.
History of Black Color
Black is the favorite color of priests and penitents, artists and ascetics, fashion designers and fascists–has always stood for powerfully opposed ideas: authority and humility, sin and holiness, rebellion and conformity, wealth and poverty, good and bad. In this beautiful and richly illustrated book, the acclaimed author of Blue now tells the fascinating social history of the color black in Europe.
In the beginning was black, Michel Pastoureau tells us. The archetypal color of darkness and death, black was associated in the early Christian period with hell and the devil but also with monastic virtue. In the medieval era, black became the habit of courtiers and a hallmark of royal luxury. Black took on new meanings for early modern Europeans as they began to print words and images in black and white and to absorb Isaac Newton’s announcement that black was no color after all.
During the romantic period, black was melancholy’s friend, while in the During the romantic period, black was melancholy’s friend, while in the twentieth-century black came to dominate art, print, photography, and film, and was finally restored to the status of a true color.
For Pastoureau, the history of any color must be a social history first because it is societies that give colors everything from their changing names to their changing meanings–and black is exemplary in this regard. In dyes, fabrics, and clothing, and in painting and other art works, black has always been a forceful–and ambivalent–shaper of social, symbolic, and ideological meaning in European societies.
With its striking design and compelling text, Black will delight anyone who is interested in the history of fashion, art, media, or design.
The Meaning of Black around the Globe
In Chinese culture, colors corresponded with the five primary elements, the directions, and the four seasons. Black was associated with water, north, and winter.
In Aztec culture, black represented war because the black obsidian glass was used as the cutting edge of battle swords. It was also the symbol of religion; priests wore no other color but black.
In the west, black is the color of mourning but the custom of wearing unadorned black clothing for mourning dates back at least to the Roman Empire when the Toga pulla made of dark-colored wool was worn during periods of mourning.
In rural areas of Mexico, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece widows will wear black for the rest of their lives. The immediate family members of the deceased will wear black for an extended period of time.
In England, taxi cabs are traditionally black.
In China, black is a traditional clothing color for boys.
Black Color Psychology and Meaning
Associated with power, elegance, formality, death, evil, and mystery.
A mysterious color associated with fear and the unknown (black holes).
Usually has a negative connotation (blacklist, black humor, ‘black death’).
Denotes strength and authority; it is considered to be a very formal, elegant, and prestigious color.
The symbol of grief.
The Color Black is Sexy
Black is often associated with something sexy and seductive. Sexy black lingerie creates a sense of mystery and intrigue, making the black color a safe choice when it comes to underwear. The black color can also mean that you give yourself to someone else or the priest dressed in black robes, who gives himself to God. The color black is the end, but the end also always implies a new beginning. When the light comes, black turns to white, and white is the color of the beginning.
Teens often have a psychological need to wear black clothes at the stage of their life, where they go from childhood innocence to the sophisticated adulthood. It means the end of a part of their life and the beginning of something new. It allows them to hide from the world, while they discover their own unique identity. It is important that they go through this stage, but there is a reason for concern if they continue into adulthood wearing only black clothes and excluding all other colors. Too much of the color black can cause depression and mood swings and creates a negative environment. If you use other colors together with black, which is recommended, they add positive energy. The color black should not stand alone.
Effects of the Color Black
Formal, dignified and sophisticated: As in the little black dress and the formal dinner suit.
Aloof: Black sets itself aside from others with its heavy and intense energy. It keeps others at arm’s length.
Depressing: Black can close us to the positive aspects of life, forcing us to look at our disappointments and the black or negative aspects of our life. It can create a fear of the future.
Pessimistic: Too much black encourages us to look at the negative side of life.
Positive: Classic formal, powerful, mysterious, sexy.
Negative: Mournful, unimaginative, rebellious.
Black fella talking to a white fella: Dear white fella, when I’m born I’m black. When I grow up I’m black. When I’m cold I’m black. When I go in the sun I’m black. When I’m sick I’m black, and when I die I am STILL black.
And you white fellas, you’re born pink, you grow up white, when you’re cold you’re blue when you’re in the sun your red, when you’re sick you’re green and when you die you turn gray… and you call ME colored!
Read about other colours here