Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Royal Color

Dr. Oz highlighted the health benefits of purple vegetables today on his show. These beauties rank high in antioxidants. Purple cauliflower, potatoes and carrots are not the usual produce available at supermarkets, but with the health benefits, perhaps we should request our grocers to carry them. According to Lilian Verner-Bonds, in her book Colour Healing, purple foods promote leadership and heal erratic emotions. She also reveals the characteristics attributed to colors in the purple family:

Deep purple = arrogance, corrupt power, delusion, ruthlessness.
Violet= a rebuilder of hope, intuition, sense of destiny
Amethyst=mystical connections, idealism, protects the vulnerable
Mauve=makes the right choices, aristocratic, dynastic
Plum=old fashioned, pompous, full of false pride, boring
Lavender=perceptive and fragile, elusive, aesthetic
Lilac=a bright personality, vanity, glamor, romance, adolescence

She goes on to say that "purple flowers placed near you when you are working relieves eyestrain. Also, she advises us to use purple sparingly for it is a "heavy" color which, when used in excess, may be depressing. On its positive aspects, she says purple is useful for any kind of internal inflammation and for subduing palpitations of the heart. It is a good color for head problems; it is the chakra color for the brain. The immune system and jangled nerves can benefit from this color. Should you suffer from an overload of purple, the antidote is exposure to gold in the form of gold lighting, decor or clothes."

Just think, King Midas may have been trying to overcome excessive purple exposure while he played with his gold!

From other research and reading, I have concluded that plum/purple/violet have different personalities:

            Plum is sullen and sumptuous, on the dark side, an intriguing combination of red, blue and black, the deepest color in the plant palette. Taking on more red, more blue, even more black, it becomes many shades and tones. Claret, maroon, burgundy, mulberry, puce, all fit into this color group. The word plum seems to encompass all these tones. For the fruits themselves range from the almost black of a sloe or the rich, deep purple of a damson plum to the paler mulberry shades of a Victoria plum. It seems fitting that plum also means first class, treasure, and prize.
            As with red, textiles and fabrics of plum and purple have long been associated with wealth and opulence, empire and papacy. The dyes used to create these gorgeous hues were obtained only with great difficulty and expense. The Cretans, Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and Egyptians knew the secret. The dye for the Tyrian purple of antiquity was extracted from the soft tissue of certain shellfish, notably of the genus Murex. 10,000 shells  yielded only one gram of dye.
The purple silk sails of Cleopatra's royal barge certainly impressed Marc Anthony; they were a blatant symbol of her immense wealth. Other Romans envied her power and  plotted to overthrow her so they could rape her country of its riches. Unfortunately, they prevailed against the purple-loving monarch.

Roman emperors alone had the right to wear clothes dyed purple and was associated with supreme power in cultures from Israel to Persia. Ancient texts tell us of its irresistible attraction among the upper echelons of society and of the emperors' relentless refusal to allow others to use it. Nero went so far as to punish offenders with death.

The complex process by which murex shells produce their purple dye has been reconstructed. The coloring molecules are similar to those of the indigo plant. The dyes varied with different types of mollusks. This is noted by Pliny, who remarked that the northern Mediterranean murex gave a different color from that of the south. Dye baths were manipulated to alter color. Sometimes two baths were used, each with a purple from a different source. This was expensive. Later, murex was replaced in the second bath with less expensive kermes (red) and indigo (blue). With the fall of the Roman Empire, much of this technical knowledge was lost.

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