Abstracts: Purple

"The actual color of Tyrian purple, the original color purple from which the name purple is derived, is the color of a dye made from a mollusk that, because of its incredible expense (many times more expensive than gold), in classical antiquity became a symbol of royalty because only the very wealthy could afford it. Therefore, Tyrian purple is also called imperial purple."

  • Purple has oftentimes symbolized royalty, dating back to Roman times, when clothing dyed with Tyrian purple was limited to the upper classes due to the rarity (and thus price) of the dye. The color, which was closer to a deep crimson/red-violet color than to the modern idea of purple, was the favored color of many kings and queens.
  • Byzantine empresses gave birth in the Purple Chamber of the palace of the Byzantine Emperors. Therefore, being named Porphyrogenitus ("born to the purple") marked a dynastic emperor as opposed to a general who won the throne by his effort.
  • porpora or purpure was not one of the usual tinctures in European heraldry, being added at a late date to bring the number of tinctures plus metals to seven, so that they could be given planetary associations. The classic early example of purpure is in the coat of the Kingdom of León: argent, a lion purpure as early as 1245.
  • In China, the Chinese name of the Forbidden City literally means "purple forbidden city" (even though the Chinese Emperor himself wore yellow, which was considered in China to be the imperial color).
  • As a result of its association with royalty and luxury, the term purple is often used to describe pretentious or overly embellished literature. For example, a paragraph containing an excessive number of long and unusual words is called a purple passage.
  • As a result of its association with the Roman Empire, imperial is often used to mean purple, such as "imperial dye."
  • Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple, said, "Womanist is to feminist as purple is to lavender."
  • In the United States and United Kingdom militaries, purple refers to programs or assignments that are "joint", i. e., that are not confined to a single service such as the Army or Navy, but apply to the entire defense establishment. Assignment to one or more joint billets is required for promotion to flag rank (Rear Admiral and higher) in the U.S. Navy. Officers in joint billets are sometimes referred to as "wearing purple" (the phrase is purely metaphorical as there are no purple uniforms in the U.S. or UK armed forces).
  • Purple is also one of the liturgical colors in Christian symbolism, although the liturgical color is more properly called violet. It generally represents sorrow and mourning, as it is often associated with the season of Lent (the forty or so days before Easter and the death of Jesus). Purple vestments are also worn by priests during the sacrament of reconciliation; it is therefore associated with penance and forgiveness.
  • In politics in the Netherlands, purple (Paars in Dutch) means a government coalition of right-liberals and socialists (symbolized by blue and red, respectively), as opposed to the more common coalitions of the Christian center-party with one of the other two. From 1994 to 2002 there have been two purple cabinets.
  • In United States politics, a purple state is a state equally balanced between Republicans (normally symbolized by red) and Democrats (normally symbolized as blue).
  • Purple People Eater was one of the biggest rock and roll hits of 1958.
  • Purple Haze is one of the most popular songs by Jimi Hendrix.
  • Purple is the favorite color of the rock celebrity Prince. His film and album Purple Rain is one of his best known works. Prince encourages his fans to wear purple to his concerts.
  • Purple is generally used to denote a digital video signal in broadcast engineering.
  • Purple is the color of the ball in Snooker Plus with a 10-point value.
  • In the game of pool, purple is the color of the 4-solid and the 12-striped balls.

— Wikipedia, "Purple"

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