Blue may not be the warmest, but it’s certainly the youngest color – among Red, Yellow and Black. The color and its different shades (Indigo, Turquoise, Royal Blue) are quite recent inventions: most civilizations did not even have the words to name them. Nevertheless, Blue has slowly invaded every cultures, artworks and fashion throughout the centuries, The Guardian reports.

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‘The only ancient culture to have a word for blue was the Egyptians, and they were also the only culture that had a way to produce a blue dye.

Blue only appeared when the Egyptians started mining and unearthed lapis lazuli, a semi-precious stone first found in Afghanistan about 6,000 years ago. Lapis was scarce and thus greatly prized, and was used to adorn the tombs of pharaohs and the eyes of Cleopatra.

By heating lime, sand and copper into calcium copper silicate, they discovered the royal-turquoise pigment Egyptian blue […]

Scarab pendant from the tomb of Tutankhamun. Photograph: Sandro Vannini/Corbis

Scarab pendant from the tomb of Tutankhamun.
Photograph: Sandro Vannini/Corbis

 

Other ancient civilisations followed suit. In China, copper was blended with heavy elements such as mercury to create shades of blue. So new and exciting were the colours created that they were attributed healing qualities and mixed into poisonous ‘medicinal’ concoctions. […]

The Mesoamericans, too, created a vivid and durable azure blue. They used it in paintings, pottery and even, some scientists have suggested, to adorn the bodies of those destined for human sacrifice. […]

 

Vase from the Templo Mayor in Tenochtitlan, Mexico.

Vase from the Templo Mayor in Tenochtitlan, Mexico. Photograph: De Agostini/Getty Images

 

[Blue pigment] peaked in the year AD431, when Virgin Mary worship and the use of her image was sanctioned by the Christian church […]. Images of Mary became wildly popular, and she was usually depicted wearing a blue robe, as befitting the queen of heaven. The colour came to symbolise truth, peace, virtue and authority.

 

The Vysehrad Madonna of the Rains in the Collegiate Church of Sts Peter and Paul, Prague. Photograph: Print Collector/Getty Images

The Vysehrad Madonna of the Rains in the Collegiate Church of Sts Peter and Paul, Prague.
Photograph: Print Collector/Getty Images

 

Blue remained the colour of the rich and the divine until the industrial age – with one notable exception. Workaday woad, a plant used as early as the stone age, was used to create a blue fabric dye. […]

But with the advent of modern manufacturing methods, cheaper blue pigments became available, not least in paint. The colour was used to capture different moods by artists: Pablo Picasso, for instance, had his Blue period after moving from Paris to Barcelona in 1901.

Racing through to the 1950s, the now readily available blue permeated all areas of life, including fashion and music, from Elvis’s Blue Suede Shoes to the rise and rise of blue denim jeans.

Invented by Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis, and popularised by James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause, blue jeans became a wardrobe staple.

Blue may not have been around for as long as earthy red, yellow and black, but its popularity shows no signs of waning.’

 

 Read full article: ‘Why Blue is the costliest colour’ @the Guardian

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