Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Color throughout History

For more than 2000 years, people have been exploring the rich history of color and how it affects our lives. Until now, we are still discovering new and exciting facts about color that greatly affects how we live our day to day activities.

Ancient times

In the past, ancient Egyptians used color to cure ailments. They perceived color as an integral part of their everyday life adding meaning to everything they created. For instance, green was often associated with growth and fertility while blue was believed to be a divine color and was often used at sacred places. The Chinese were believed to have used color for healing as well. Like the Egyptians, they associated colors with ailments. 

Color studies

Aristotle was believed to be the first to develop the color theory. He claimed that color was sent by God as celestial rays and classified four colors based on the four elements: earth, fire, wind, and water. Later on, Leonardo da Vinci suggested an alternative hierarchy of color which consisted of white, yellow, green, blue, red, and black. 

It was only in 1666 when the first detailed understanding of color was arrived at by Isaac Newton. Newton used two prisms and let white light passed through them. He observed that when white light passed through the prism it produced seven colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. He called the spreading of color into rays as dispersion and the different colored rays as spectrum.   

Color in the modern age

Colors are used in more positive ways these days: entrepreneurs now understand the role of color in the performance of their employees; hospitals are aware of the effect color has on their patients; cosmetic companies have introduced a wide range of colors in their products, etc. Indeed, color has played an important role not just in treating ailments but also in the way of life. If we can better expand our understanding of color, we can truly benefit from nature’s gift of color.       

1 comment:

  1. Yes, Newton, the father of mechanics! That was through the refraction of light that white light was filtered and separated into the colors of the rainbow.