Blue (color)

 Jesse Brauner
Blue (color)

The symbolism of the color blue.

Blue is the color of the sky and heavens, and as such is often associated with the Divine. It embodies many virtues, including truth, intellect, wisdom, loyalty, peace, and contemplation. In the past, due to the relative difficulty and high expense of creating blue dye, the color was often associated with royalty, giving rise to terms such as “royal blue” and “blue bloods”. The latter term is also based on a simple physical observation: If your skin is pale, you can easily look at your wrists and notice any number of blue veins under the skin. Since the aristocracy hardly ever engaged in farming or other outdoor labor, their skin did not acquire the weather-beaten or darkened look typical of the laboring classes. Thus, visible blue veins were associated with high birth.

Other linguistic phenomena also come from the symbolism of blue: the color's association with loyalty and faithfulness have given rise to the phrase "true blue", indicating the aforementioned virtues. Compared to the vibrancy of red or yellow, blue is something of a somber color, and the expression "feeling blue" indicates sadness or depression.


BHUTAN: Traditional Bhutanese men's clothing - known as the gho - is sometimes accessorized with a long silk scarf called a kabney. The kabney comes in a variety of colors, and national law stipulates which colors can be worn by individuals, depending on his profession and position in society. Blue-colored kabney are worn by members of the National Assembly, as well as the Bhutanese Parliament.

CHINA: in the system of the four cardinal directions, blue is associated with the east, the season of spring, the element of wood, and the dragon. In Chinese culture, dragons are essentially divine creatures with a strong to connection the heavens, yet another concept associated with the color blue (see introduction).

CHRISTIANITY: in religious paintings, particularly those made during the Renaissance, blue was the color of choice to depict the cloak of the Virgin Mary; the color symbolized her role as the Queen of Heaven, as well as her virtues of piety and chastity. This symbolism was only enhanced by the fact that a major source of blue pigment at the time was lapis lazuli, a deep blue semiprecious stone that was highly expensive but could be ground into powder for a wonderfully deep blue paint.

INDIA: in Hinduism and Buddhism, blue is the color of the Vishuddha Chakra, one of seven energetic points situated along the body. Located in the throat, this chakra governs aspects such as communication, independence, and security. In the Hindu pantheon, the god Vishnu - along with his earthly incarnations Rama and Krishna - are often portrayed with blue skin, representing the infinite space of the heavens. In Hindu cosmology, Mount Meru, the legendary peak at the center of the universe, is composed sapphire on its southern side. Since the world that corresponds to Earth is located directly below the mountain's southern face, its sky is also colored blue.

MESOPOTAMIA: the goddess Ishtar - also known as Innana - was one of the preeminent deities worshiped in ancient Mesopotamia (an area roughly analogous to modern-day Iraq). Much like the Virgin Mary centuries later, Ishtar was the Queen of the Heavens, often associated with the starry night sky. In various legends surrounding her, Ishtar is often described as wearing jewelry or carrying items made of the semiprecious stone lapis lazuli. Dark blue and flecked with golden pyrite, this stone was seen as an emblem of the heavens (only appropriate for Ishtar), further elevating the symbolic importance of the color blue.