Philosophy of Color

Issue #3-4 • 3314

Color is a subject of philosophical meditation. From ancient times color carried definite information and was widely used in folk arts. For example, according to legends four cardinal points have symbolical colors: the north – white, the south – brown, the east – yellow and the west – blue.

Color is a subject of philosophical meditation. From ancient times color carried definite information and was widely used in folk arts. For example, according to legends four cardinal points have symbolical colors: the north – white, the south – brown, the east – yellow and the west – blue. Seasons also have own colors: spring – white-pink-green, summer – dark green, autumn – yellow-orange-golden and winter – white. Historical and archeological sources prove that different peoples defined colors of months, days and time in general. More general is a phenomenon more definite is symbolical color representing it. As for abstract conditions of human mind all nations come to common vision of color and its meaning. For example, white means peace and calmness, dark blue calls to dialogue, red is a symbol of love.

Different religions prescribe different colors for clothes of believers: Buddhism – orange, Christianity – black, Islam – white.

Psychologists consider that colors directly influence consciousness: yellow color calms, green – inspires, red – excites, black – embitters. At the same time different conditions of soul correspond to definite colors: green to calmness, red to excitement, yellow to disease, dark blue to vitality, blue to hope, black to the abstract, achromatic to vacuum.

Personal morals and character were also defined by means of color. For example, white corresponds to pure and open character; green – young; red – artful and categorical.

Artists use colors to transfer different periods of human life: blue, green, lilac and red colors correspond to youth full of love; brown, dark blue and grey colors symbolize an old age.

Color of clothes differently influences a state of health and mind. Warm colors – red, yellow, brown and orange heat a person, and his mind became creative. On the contrary, cold colors – green, dark blue, blue, violet, turquoise and lilac cool a body and make mind calm and meditative. There are also neutral colors – grey and its components – white and black. However, the person differently reacts to the same color of clothes being in different psychological conditions or situations. So, this classification requires studying individual influence of color on health and mind of each person in different situations and conditions of his mind.

According to Turkic mythology, blue color symbolizes the sacred sky and Yang. Blue and red colors are considered sacral in eastern Uzbekistan. Red or blue clothes are used for traditional holidays and fast, wedding or funeral. In this region of Uzbekistan black color of clothes, alongside with blue, is a sign of mourning. White color is a symbol of faith, hope and purifying influence of Allah in all regions of Uzbekistan.

Color and philosophic problems of consciousness

The world is beautiful as it is polychromic. Some symbolical systems define three basic colors – red, yellow and green and their combinations. The other give seven basic colors – white, yellow, green, dark blue, blue, red and black. Absolute human sight is able to distinguish from 40 up to 100 colors. Modern computers distinguish several thousands colors and their tints. The world is rich in colors and tints. Only thing is to be able to see them.

White color is considered “ideal” color and “color of dream”. It is a symbol of purity, faith, health and well-being. It has three major interpretations.

The first is – birth and creation. Newborn baby is done up in white sheet. People call a baby “Ok-pok” – “White, pure”. Mind of a newborn baby is absolutely pure and free of sins.

The second is – human life aspiring to purity of consciousness and if such purity is reached, aspiration to keep and develop it. Purity of consciousness determines cleanliness of body and clothes. Praying, pilgrimage and good acts are a result of pure consciousness.

The third is – a symbol of two absolute oppositions – life and death, beginning and end of life.

White color takes a special place in customs and traditions of Uzbeks. White fabric (poyondoz) is put under feet of groom and bride at wedding. A groom brings white fabric to bride’s house expressing his kind and pure intentions.

Uzbek people associate white color with kind and light hope: “Ok yul”, “I^klam”, “I^k gul”, “I^k osh”, “I^k fotiqa”. They have deep philosophical content and are connected with pure thoughts. Many kishlaks of Uzbekistan have a custom of “I^k sepish”. When matchmakers come in a house of a bride, they are sprinkled with flour that means: “Come with kind intentions”.

Yellow color is considered the best for important persons in the Far East, China, Korea and Mongolia. Ancestors of Central Asian peoples associated yellow color with the sun, fire, gold and riches.

Europeans associate yellow color with the end of hot summer and beginning of fall. That is why Europeans attribute yellow to parting. It can be also a symbol of illness and death. At the same time, yellow color positively influences mood of a person. Designers widely use this property of yellow.

Green color is a symbol of life, nature, revival, creation, spring and miraculous force of being. It has a salutary effect on mind and soul. A person, who prefers green, has a complex about of another’s influence and searches for self-affirmation as he fears everyday problems, ups and downs of life and difficulties in general (1, p. 14 – 16).

Dark blue color is a symbol of dream and expectations, good and creativity. It is a color of the sky associated with a spiritual evolution of a person. It might be a symbol of crisis – stop in development, tortures and mourning. If a person likes dark blue, it means his modesty and melancholy. Such person quickly gets tired and often needs a rest, feeling of security and amiability of midst. Antagonism to this color says that a person wants to create impression that he can do everything, but actually he is a sample of self-distrust and asociality.

In some countries of Central Asia and Iran dark blue color of clothes means mourning. The damnation “Put on dark blue!” was considered the most severe. Notices on death of emir or sultan were written on dark blue paper.

Northern peoples associated dark blue color with cold and shadow.

Blue color is a symbol of the sky and sea. The blue sky was identified with infinity and the God. Blue color is a color of wisdom, generosity, faith, glory and truth, and a color of eternity in the East.

In Uzbekistan blue color is a major color in architecture. Blue are domes, wall paintings and exterior decor of buildings.

Romantics connect blue color with dreams (blue dream).

Red color. Traditionally red color has two absolutely opposite interpretations. Firstly, it is a symbol of beauty, love and good life. Some peoples attribute it to greatness. For example, in Japan, a red carpet is put under feet of the most esteemed guests. In China “red soul” was attributed to good and truthful person, and red color was to protect from evil angels. So, face and hands of little children were painted in red to prevent charms and illness. Polynesians related red color to symbols of love, and Russians – to symbols of beauty. Old Russian language proves that words “e^?a`n~i’u^e’” and “e^?a`n~e`a^u^e’” have the same meaning: “A girl is “red (beautiful)” till wedding”. If red is favorite color, such person is courageous, strong-willed, choleric, sociable and altruist in addition. A person normally irritated by red has inferiority complex, fear before quarrels and incline to solitude and stable relations.

Secondly, red color is interpreted as a symbol of passion, blood, revenge, purifying fire and destroying blood as well as a color of greatness, power and violence. Warriors of Sparta and Carthage put on red clothes for Roman war. African, American and Australian tribes used to paint faces and bodies of warriors in red before battles.

Black color symbolizes mystery, darkness, misfortune, mourning, disaster, death, horror and hell in many cultures. Many peoples associate black color with night. Night expresses darkness and deceit. In ancient Egypt hands of a person who sacrificed were painted in black. In Africa black bulls, goats and birds were sacrificed to genies of rain. If a person prefers to put on black (excluding situations related to mourning which emphasize actual value of black), he quite often sees life in dark colors, feels lack confidence in himself, unhappy and inclines to depression as has no doubts that his ideals are unachievable. Frequent changes of black costume to bright might show that pessimistic mood is often overcome (1, p. 14 – 16).

Turkic peoples attributed to black color such meanings as a mark, point, goal as well as a sign of force, greatness and power. For example: strong (“ki^ra kuch” – “black forces”, “kora botir ” – “black bogatyr”), big (“korabog” – “black garden “ –“big garden”; “koramol” – “black cattle”), etc.

Najmiddin Qubro interpreted black color as a color which marked approach of soul to the purpose – a threshold of Divine World. Black is a symbol of divine dhikr and admiration at God’s all-might (2, p. 157).

Achromatic is not a colour, it means absence of color. However, achromatic makes a basis for other colors. Al-Farabi wrote: “Each color has absence of some color, but presence of white color does not mean absence of black” (3, p. 204). Qubro paid especial attention to achromatic as murid (pupil) could be freed from black color, reached the purpose (“hakikat”) and reach divine world exactly within achromatic. Achromatic symbolizes full achievement of the true purpose – divine world, truth and greatness.

Color and human character

Our mind differently reacts to colors of subjects and phenomena in different situations. Character of a person depends on which color his mind prefers in this or that situation. Cold colors (dark blue, green and their tints) are attributes of calmness, tenderness, apathy and sadness. Variations of these conditions allow passing from one condition to another. That is promoted by presence of warm colors around. Warm colors give dignity, self-reliance and ability to operate own life and actions as well as actions of other people and offices. They cause feeling of pleasure and self-reliance.

Grey is a favorite color of discreet and hard of belief persons which think much before making a decision. Grey color determines a neutral condition of consciousness. Such persons fear to make themselves known. Grey color causes negative emotions at impulsive and frivolous persons.

Orange is a favorite color of people having deep intuition and passionate dreamers. The people having negative emotions towards orange might be insincere and cunning.

Brown color is a color of independent person. He appreciates traditions and family. A person avoiding this color is ambitious egoist. Egoism makes a person asocial. Such person cannot be frankness.

Apple-green is a color of misanthropes and cynics. It is liked by dictatorial persons who work their will upon others and avoid acting themselves as they fear to get to a nonplus.

Pink is a color of life, love and kindness. Those people who like this color are sensitive and often suffer because of nothing. Pragmatic people feel irritation towards pink.

Violet is able to raise feelings and bring mind to high spirituality and delicacy. If violet color causes negative associations, it testifies to developed sense of duty, wish to live here and now, not thinking about the past and future. Violet color is a typical color of harmonious persons.

Thus, color describes human life in all acts of human mind. Color reveals all sides of human existence from creation to destruction, defines mentality of a person and his relation to himself, life, people and events which come to a person on way of development of his own consciousness and being. Color is logic, psychology, philosophy and aesthetics of human life. Color is a property of any phenomenon which calls to comprehend mystery of our consciousness and life.

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