22 October 2015 - WHY IS PURPLE CONSIDERED THE COLOUR OF ROYALTY?
WHY IS PURPLE CONSIDERED
THE COLOUR OF ROYALTY?
Yet again, I'm answering a question that has been on your mind for ages.
purple’s ties to kings and queens date back to ancient world, where it was
prized for its bold hues and often reserved for the upper crust. The Persian
king Cyrus adopted a purple tunic as his royal uniform, and some Roman emperors
forbid their citizens from wearing purple clothing under penalty of death.
Purple was especially revered in the Byzantine Empire. Its rulers wore flowing
purple robes and signed their edicts in purple ink, and their children were
described as being “born in the purple.”
The reason for
purple’s regal reputation comes down to a simple case of supply and demand. For
centuries, the purple dye trade was centered in the ancient Phoenician city of
Tyre in modern day Lebanon. The Phoenicians’ “Tyrian purple” came from a
species of sea snail now known as Bolinus brandaris, and it was so exceedingly
rare that it became worth its weight in gold. To harvest it, dye-makers had to
crack open the snail’s shell, extract a purple-producing mucus and expose it to
sunlight for a precise amount of time. It took as many as 250,000 mollusks to
yield just one ounce of usable dye, but the result was a vibrant and
long-lasting shade of purple.
from the dye were exorbitantly expensive—a pound of purple wool cost more than
most people earned in a year—so they naturally became the calling card of the
rich and powerful. It also didn’t hurt that Tyrian purple was said to resemble
the color of clotted blood—a shade that supposedly carried divine connotations.
The royal class’ purple monopoly finally waned after the fall of the Byzantine
empire in the 15th century, but the color didn’t become more widely available
until the 1850s, when the first synthetic dyes hit the market.
Clancy's comment: Right, now you know. Happy? Great. I knew you would be.