The Tragic Tale of Purple【紫色的悲劇】


[The Tragic Tale of Purple]

By: Jacobus DU PLESSIS (HSBC Prosperity Hall)

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.


文:Jacobus DU PLESSIS(匯豐業昕堂)


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