The Tragic Tale of Purple【紫色的悲劇】

color-purple

[The Tragic Tale of Purple]

By: Jacobus DU PLESSIS (HSBC Prosperity Hall)
Image: http://www.malabrigoyarn.com

I know you might not believe me if I tell you this but the colour purple is actually rather interesting and says a lot more about history, culture and changing perceptions than you might think.
Today when I say purple, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Barney the Purple Dinosaur, the purple Teletubby or just an all-round bad fashion sense? But, do you realise that this way of looking at the colour is new?
In the past purple was one of the most difficult colours to produce and consequently also one of the rarest. It used to take 12,000 shellfish to produce just 1.5 grams of pure purple dye!
Purple then was unique in the old days and as a result of this it was the colour of nobility, power and extravagance. The Roman Emperor was the only man in the Roman Empire allowed to wear an entirely purple toga. After the Empire fell, Catholic bishops and European kings all wore the colour purple to represent their power and prestige.
How then did it happen that Barney swooped in and ruined purple’s reputation? It can’t be said for sure, but somewhere between the more efficient production techniques established during the era of industrialisation and the rise of democracy (which has a healthy mistrust for the extravagant) purple fell out of favour. This concludes the tragic Shakespearian tale of Purple.

【紫色的悲劇】

文:Jacobus DU PLESSIS(匯豐業昕堂)
譯:高路延(陳瑞球堂)
圖:www.malabrigoyarn.com

如果我說紫色是一部悲劇,你們大概不會相信我。不過實際上紫色是一個很有意思的顏色,它訴說了很多關乎歷史與文化的故事。這或許會改變你們對紫色的看法。
如果我提起紫色,你們最先想到的會是什麼?恐龍仔班尼、《天線得得B》的丁丁?還是某人胡亂穿著紫色衣服而惹來的時尚災難?但是,你有沒有意識到這樣一種看待紫色的方法其實是從未有過的?
在過去,紫色是最難生產出的顏色之一,源於它十分稀有,光是生產1.5克純紫色染料就需要用到一萬兩千隻貝類動物!
紫色在舊時代是非常獨特的,因此它象徵著高貴、權力和奢侈。羅馬大帝是羅馬帝國時期唯一可以身著全紫色衣袍的人。帝國衰敗後,天主教的主教和歐洲的國王也都開始身著紫色衣物以顯示他們至高無上的權力和威望。
到底從何時開始我們將尊貴的紫色放到恐龍仔班尼身上,並因此而敗壞了紫色的名聲?我們不得而知,但可以肯定的是,在工業革命時期各種更高效的生產技術建立後,以及在鄙視上流尊貴的民主主義崛起的這兩段時間之間,曾經高貴罕有的紫色漸漸退出了歷史舞台。
這便是莎士比亞式的紫色悲劇。

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