Imagine a world devoid of color — where everything is either white, black, or the grays in between. How would this make you feel? Although I do appreciate the nuances of gray, I would be bereft. Such is the profound effect of color in our lives. All the hues of the rainbow with their variegated tints and shades are deeply interwoven into our existence.
Color psychology studies this relationship — how color profoundly affects our moods and perceptions. Each hue and its permutations are thought to have a particular effect and meaning, which are further modified by our personal experiences and cultural context. These associations oftentimes subtly influence our reactions and subsequent behavior.
Among all the colors within the visible spectrum, purple is unique. This is based on human biology and physics. First is the way our eyes recognize colors and how the brain interprets this information. Second, unlike its companions with a single type of electromagnetic radiation, purple is always a blend of two wavelengths, that of blue and red. As such, it is considered a non-spectral color. This means that even though it does not belong within the colors that make up light, it does exist in nature, so the brain has evolved in order to perceive it. Because of this, purple is different from violet, with its blue preponderance and its own wavelength. It sits balanced between the warm red and cool blue hues. As the most intense of colors, purple’s electromagnetic energy level is just below that of harmful x-rays and gamma rays.
Historically, purple symbolizes luxury, royalty, and authority. Starting from 1200 BCE, it was only through a costly and laborious process that Phoenicians were able to produce 1.5 grams of pure Tyrian purple from about 12,000 Murex sea snails. Hence, garments dyed with this color were reserved for the nobility and available only to the wealthy. Alexander the Great and the kings of Egypt wore vestments in Tyrian purple. Furthermore, ancient edicts were issued by Romans Julius Caesar and Augustus decreeing that only emperors can wear this rare hue. Nero even declared that the sale of this dye and wearing of garments using this color were punishable by death. Since then, purple as a color choice has been associated with exclusivity, power, and status.
Purple has an extensive influence over various cultures and traditions. Here are some examples —
- Due to the rarity of naturally-occurring pigments during ancient times, purple has attained a special significance, selected for ceremonial purposes by the aristocracy and for traditional rites of different religions until today.
- In Asian culture, this color is symbolic of divinity and immortality.
- It is the color of mourning in countries such as Thailand, Italy, Brazil, and Victorian England.
- The Purple Heart as a military award is emblematic of bravery.
- Commemorated every 26th of March, Purple Day aims to raise the public’s awareness of epilepsy, since lavender is recognized as its international flower.
- Purple is one of the colors for self-identification of the LGBTQ+ community.
- The Alzheimer’s Association has adopted purple as the signature color to represent its ethos.
- Purple is part of the vibrant ensemble worn by the Red Hat Society as its founding was inspired by the poem Warning by Jenny Joseph.
- Heartburn or acid reflux is managed with proton-pump inhibitors, collectively dubbed as the Purple Pill.
Scientists in the field of color psychology have studied how different hues possess different meanings and psychological effects. Each symbolism tied to a distinctive color illustrates the dynamic interplay between nature, our experiences with the color’s iterations throughout history, within our different cultures, and the ways we harness our perceptions. Purple has generally been associated with mystery, creativity, sensitivity, spirituality, and intuitiveness. People who are drawn to this unusual color are often described as insouciant, imaginative, eccentric, introspective, and empathetic, to name a few.
Purple for Peace
By virtue of its nature, purple as a color has been evocative of peace. It sits balanced between the polar opposites of warm, passionate red and cool, serene blue. It brings to mind a broad-minded openness to differing opinions. It encourages understanding and acceptance. As it conceptually inspires creativity by invigorating the senses as well as discernment by fostering insightful observations, purple would symbolize harmony in equanimity.
Purple Fountain Pens and Inks
Here at EndlessPens, we encourage you to harness the nuanced symbolism embodied in the color purple. Personally, this color is among my favorites. It calls to me with its air of mystery and quiet vitality. With the different shades and tints that arise from it, it can elicit different emotions and trains of thought. Here is a selection that I hope will inspire you to sit down for a few moments of focused awareness and tranquility —
This fountain pen is designed with a semi-translucent acrylic material. It features a purple resin cap and body with a playful marbled design accented with silver-colored trims. It also features a piston filling mechanism and in-house nibs in fine and medium. A namesake of the seahorse with the same genus, this fountain pen’s vibrant color and convoluted swirls call to mind the intricate courtship ritual that this marine animal undergoes as it attracts a mate. How romantic!
This is a dark, dusky purple with beautiful shading. Translated from its French name, Moon Dust brings to mind the deep shadows of a night under the crescent moon. It speaks of mystery and knowledge to be revealed.
Sleek with a unique style, this fountain pen is an impressive blend of engineering and elegance. The Pilot Falcon's most extraordinary feature is its flexible, hooded nib that gently yields to the user's writing angle. The nib was designed with input from the association of pen shop owners in Japan who recommended a soft, flexible writing feel. It carries a 14 karat gold nib in soft fine, medium or broad. This pen’s brightly hued body and silver accents point to a lively and modern sense of style.
Inspired by the lush scenery and vibrant culture of Australia, Robert Oster inks are available in a stunning selection of rich and contemplative colors. If you want to be spoiled for choice with purple and purple-adjacent hues, then take your pick from these, or try them all. Have fun channeling your creativity through color!
This fountain pen is a collaboration between Opus 88 and Lennon Toolbar. Halo has exactly the same dimension as Koloro, a medium sized Japanese style eyedropper-filled pen with high ink capacity. It has a transparent barrel with a grip section that comes in a variety of colors. It has a Jowo #5 stainless steel nib. If you enjoy demonstrator pens like I do, with a pop of transparent purple for visual interest, then this one's for you.
Purple has been known to be a polarizing color, either you love it or not. Looking beyond preferences though, the role that colors play in our lives is essential. They are not simply visual signals that our minds interpret as data. They complement our emotions, hint at our personalities, and enrich the whole human experience. Whether you prefer purple or not, I hope you’ll be inspired by the uplifting qualities that it stands for.
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Written by @lekzumali
Check out her musings on Instagram!