AMONG Orientals a good deal of significance has attached, from the earliest days, to color. In Babylon scarlet was the symbol of fire, blue of air, and purple of water. Tyrian purple was an exquisite and rare shade of crimson. Many allusions are made to it by classical writers. The principal colors of the ancient Egyptians were red, yellow, and blue. Black was the symbol of error. White signified a holy life, purity, innocence of soul. The priests of Zeus and of Osiris were robed in white. Red was the symbol of zeal for the faith. Yellow was supposed to bring evil and sorrow. Blue was the symbol of truth. Black and white were often used to outline other colors.
The Persians, unlike most other Orientals, are not fond of bright colors. They are apt to avoid the light shades of red and green as being too showy, and further, as being liable to fade. Greens and yellows in dark shades they treat with more favor, They consider black and indigo as the symbols of sorrow; rose is the symbol of Divine Wisdom ; green represents initiation into the knowledge of the Most High.
Among the Chinese, yellow is the symbol of royalty.
The Emperor of China and his sons may wear yellow robes; their descendants wear yellow sashes and have yellow bridles for their horses. Red is the symbol of truth, virtue, and sincerity. It is the color of the highest degree of official rank. White is the symbol of mourning ; black represents vice and depravity.
In Turkey, green is the most sacred color ; and for that reason a true follower of Mahomet will not permit it to be used in his rugs, for fear it may be profaned by being stepped upon. Thirty-five or forty years ago no Christian was allowed to wear even a vestige of green anywhere upon him, while in Turkey ; but this law is not now so rigidly enforced. If the Prophet or any of his family wear this color, no objection is raised, as he and they are considered holy, and thus exempt from the penalty. White is the color permitted to a student or a teacher of the law. To the Mohammedans of India and Persia, as to the Chinese, white is the emblem of mourning. In India, orange signifies devotion or pious resignation, and blue means ill-luck to the Hindoo.
Red was the favorite color of the Gauls, purple of the Romans, and saffron of the Greeks.
( Originally Published Late 1900’s )