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From the red lava and black rock of newly forming land to the cool gray tundras and frozen lakes, a dynamic range of colors can be seen in landscapes across the globe. Some of the most dramatic colors can be seen in the very same landscape with the changing of the seasons. Pale yellow fields leftover from winter become rich green beds of brightly colored flowers just to become dark fading charcoal hills again in the fall.
Below we are exploring some of these lands filled with rich and absorbent colors created by minerals and climates, like the Pink lakes of Australia with pink salt lands contrasted against gray skies, the Painted Hills of Oregon with layers of peach sediment and rusty volcanic ash, and the tended green farm lands and pastures of Spain and England contrasted against blue skies.Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii
Photo by andyrs
Established in 1916, Volcanoes National Park holds an incredibly rich diversity of environments that range from the ocean to one of earth's most active volcanoes, Kīlauea, which offers scientist a view of the formation of the Hawaiian islands. The parks also includes Mauna Loa a volcano whose summit reaches 13,6777 feet.
Autumn Landscape, Japan
Photo by fotopakismo
Photo by andyrs
The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is held annually from April 1st - April 30th and celebrates the first burst of spring color.
The fiery color red has long been controversial — so controversial, in fact, that it is commonly banned outright lest it inflame strong emotions, spark revolution, kindle anger, inspire boldness, instigate bloodshed, arouse lust, or provoke pain. Is it preposterous to think that a single color can be dangerous to society? Consider the following examples of forbidden reds from modern to ancient times. Then ask yourself: do you dare to use or wear the color red today? Is red worth the risk of arrest, imprisonment, or even a death sentence? Ultimately, is red (or any color) worth championing?
Director Michael Mann banned the color red from appearing in his film Miami Vice, as he has a personal dislike for red and other earth tones. (Source: New York Times.)
The American Civil Liberties Union reported the first known instance of an educational institution reacting to gang fears by banning a primary color. In reaction to school vandalism and the threat of violence, "officials at Round Rock High School in Texas banned the color red. ... Apparently the gang responsible for these incidents wore red—about forty students wearing red items were sequestered in the library, and the parents were called." (Source: Leland Gregory, Hey, Idiot!: Chronicles of Human Stupidity.)
In 1887, Chicago police banned the color red from labor union advertisements of the Knights of Labor. This was a colorful example of the anti-Communist "red scare." (Source: Economic History Encyclopedia.)
Daniels Farm Elementary School in Trumbull, Connecticut banned its teachers from using red ink to grade student homework. Apparently, parents objected to red as being "too stressful" and symbolic of negativity. "The disillusionment with red is part of a major shift in grading, and three top pen manufacturers have heard the complaints. As a result, Bic, Pilot Pen, and Sanford (the manufacturer of Papermate and Sharpie) are producing more purple pens in response to rising sales. According to Pilot Pen’s vice president of marketing, school leaders are 'trying to be positive and reinforcing rather than being harsh. Teachers are taking that to heart.'" (Source: Lisa Orlando, "The Ink That Teachers Use To Grade Papers Has Parents Seeing Red.")
The government of Saudi Arabia banned the color red around Valentine's Day, in a move to discourage Muslims from observing the Western holiday. Red flowers, plush hearts, wrapping paper, and other red items were illegal to sell. As a result of the ban on red roses, a black market has flowered. (Source: Saudi Gazette.)
In Israel, the color red was banned from kosher clothing stores. (Source: Sensationalcolor.com.)
The roots of color technology trace back to Ancient Egypt, where visionary chemists concocted recipes for synthetic pigments. Color (Ancient Egyptian name 'iwen') was an essential part of life in ancient Egypt, adding deeper meaning to everything the people created. Paintings, clothing, books, jewelry, and architecture were all imbued with colorful symbolism. African historian Alistair Boddy-Evans explains that color "was considered an integral part of an item's or person's nature in Ancient Egypt, and the term could interchangeably mean color, appearance, character, being, or nature. Items with similar color were believed to have similar properties."
Egyptologist Anita Stratos informs us that the Egyptian palette had six colours:
Boddy-Evans notes that organic sources yielded two basic colors: crushed bones and ivory provided white pigment, and soot provided black. Red dye was produced from the dried bodies of female scale insects (family Coccidae, genus Kermes). Indigo and crimson pigments came from plants. Most other colors were made from mineral compounds, Stratos notes, "which is why they retained their vibrant colors throughout thousands of years."
Ancient Egyptians considered green to be a positive and powerful color, Egyptologist Geraldine Pinch notes (Magic in Ancient Egypt, 1995). It was associated with fertility, growth and regeneration. "A person was said to be doing 'green things' if his behavior was beneficial or life producing," Stratos says. "Wadj, the word for green, which also meant to flourish or be healthy, was used for the papyrus plant as well as for the green stone malachite. Green malachite was a symbol of joy. In a larger reference, the phrase 'field of malachite' was used when speaking of the land of the blessed dead."
Blue and turquoise were considered divine colors and appropriate for sacred places. Stratos explains that "Dark blue, also called 'Egyptian' blue, was the color of the heavens, water, and the primeval flood, and it represented creation or rebirth. The favorite blue stone was lapis lazuli, or khesbed, which also meant joy or delight. . . . There is also a theory that blue may have been symbolic of the Nile and represented fertility, because of the fertile soils along the Nile that produced crops. Because the god Amen (also spelled Amon or Amun) played a part in the creation of the world, he was sometimes depicted with a blue face; therefore, pharaohs associated with Amen were shown with blue faces also. In general, it was said that the gods had hair made of lapis lazuli."
Stratos explains that red was considered a very powerful color, "symbolizing two extremes: Life and victory as well as anger and fire. Red also represented blood. . . . In its negative context of anger and fire, red was the color of the god Set, who was the personification of evil and the powers of darkness, as well as the god who caused storms. Some images of Set are colored with red skin. In addition, red-haired men as well as animals with reddish hair or skins were thought to be under the influence of Set. A person filled with rage was said to have a red heart."
"In the Graeco-Egyptian papyri, a special kind of red ink, which included ochre and the juice of flaming red poppies, was used," Pinch says.
There is at least one thing to be said about living in colder climates, and that would be being able to experience, first hand, one of the color wonders of the world, aurora.
Aurora originates from the sun. Large amounts of solar particles are thrown into space and travel for about two to three days at a rate of 300 to 1000 kilometers per second in order to reach earth's outer magnetic field. At this point, the clouds of particles are pulled towards the northern and southern magnetic poles. As they are being pulled towards the poles they are stopped by our atmosphere colliding with other present particles. The interaction of these particles causes what we know as aurora, the northern lights or aurora borleis in the northern hemisphere, and aurora australis or the southern polar lights in the southern hemisphere.
Photos by Arnar Valdimarsson
The colors created by aurora are most commonly, green and red, but depending on the particles present in the clouds from the sun, say if there is nitrogen present, the color can range from low level reds to very high blues and violets.
With the technological advances of film and development of digital imaging we are now able to capture the true beauty of auroras, but it still nothing compared to witnessing the animated currents of color flowing over the horizons and covering landscapes with illuminating waves of light for yourself. So enjoy these stunning images of this magnificent show and give some thought to taking a cold vacation this year.
Photo by natekoechley
We often find our breaths taken away by the presence of color in our everyday lives, and thankfully there are three times as many opportunities to celebrate it. While the carnivals of Brazil and New Orleans explode with vibrancy, there is something simpler and yet equally joyous about Holi, the festival of color that takes place in early March of each year in India and Nepal. It is also known as Phagwa, or in West Begal, Boshonto Utsav (meaning "Spring Festival.")
India's people believe that bright colors are synonymous with life, joy and positive energy. Holi is a day to celebrate these concepts, but it also holds other symbolism as well (which seem to differ depending on what region the celebration is held in.) For some, Holi means celebrating the divine love of Lord Krishna and Radna (this is most popularly believed in Vrindavan and Mathura, where Krishna grew up.) The festival is celebrated for 16 days in the aforementioned areas (in some areas it is as short as six days.) There is a story that tells of Krishna complaining to his mother about his dark skin in contrast to Radna's fair cheek, which Krishna's mother addressed by applying color to Radna's face, transforming her from starkly contrasting to brilliantly colorful.
A second story about Holi's origins involves Kamadeva, the Hindu God of Love. Kama was destroyed by Shiva, but Shiva recreated his body as a mental image for sake of Kama's wife. The concept behind this story is that Shiva gave Kama's wife back the symbol of her emotional and spiritual devotion, which outweighed the importance of his physicality (the latter signifying physical lust.) The Holi bonfire, which is traditionally held on the first night of Holi, is believed by some to pay homage to this story. Other believe in the bonfires as a recreation of the burning of the demoness Holika, for which the festival was named. This ritual is called "Holika Dahan."
Baffling color names often tell entertaining stories, at least to those who are willing to delve beneath the surface. We continue our strange and wonderful adventure into the uncharted fringes of language, where we'll discover new "shades of meaning."
The deep green color called nnnn represents a “closed,” “intimate” hummed sound which “resonates mostly in the head,” as opposed to the “exposed” aaahh sound “which resonates in the chest. You can keep the closed sound a secret, sitting calmly at a committee meeting while others about you are losing their minds” (W. A. Mathieu, The Musical Life).
The light gray color claled nnnnnn refers to the “head guy” of “a bunch of dudes from the nameless planet”: "Nnnnnn moved his green hand in a circle, indicating the stream, the forest, the city. 'I know you feel like an alien here,' he said softly. 'But that is because you are thinking too small'" (Bruce Coville, “I, Earthling,” Odder Than Ever).
The deep blue color called nt represents the word not, written in Roger Bacon’s all-consonant secret code (devised in 1250), as discussed in The Voynich Manuscript by Gerry Kennedy.
The tan color called pff is an indication that one is miffed, as by a failed pursuit: "[W]hen they rounded the corner the bird had disappeared, and though the children searched high and low, there was not a feather to be found. 'Pff! Typical,' Georgie spat, turning back down the stairs" (Justyn Walker, The Magician’s Daughter).
The pink color called pfff refers to a French expression of loneliness, as when everyone is having too much fun to give one a call, as in “Numéro privé” by Erwan Le Goffic.
The magenta color called pfffft recalls the sound of a stabbing hypodermic needle: "She stuck the needle in, pushed pfffft, just like that, and it started burning immediately" (Janet Laurel, Heart and Soul: What It Takes to Promote Health While Confronting Cancer).
The light mauve color called pffft echoes the sound of a balloon deflating: "The volunteer was given a pair of safety glasses and a long bamboo pole to the end of which was secured a match. This was lit, and placed under the balloon. It collapsed with a dull pffft" (D.W. St. John, A Terrible Beauty).
Colors, like people, tend to mix and mingle according to their inclinations. Sometimes two complementary HEXes will combine to create a new color. Sometimes two similar HEXes will merge to illuminate a more brilliant hue. Is it preposterous to label such unions as "straight" and "gay"? The ColourLovers library is full of colors with orientations identified in their titles. At a glance, can you tell a "straight" color from a "gay" one? Here's a three-part quiz, each more challenging than the last. In this first quiz, one column features colors with exclusively gay names. The other column features colors with exclusively straight names. Which is which? For the answer, click on any color to reveal the name.
In honor of this month's release of the United States' redesigned five dollar bill I have been scouring through the 191 currently circulating currencies of the 192 member states of the United Nations to find some of the most colorful, unique and dramatic bank notes.
The New Five
Photo from moneycenteral.msn.com
The redesigned $5 bill was unveiled on September 20, 2007, and was issued on March 13, 2008. Previously covered here on COLOURlovers, the redesign involves some very noticeable changes, mostly for security reasons, but also in an attempt to make the bill more friendly to the visually impaired.
The new five incorporates the use of micro printing of type to make it more difficult to copy. On the front, "FIVE DOLLARS" is written inside the left and right borders. "E PLURIBUS UNUM" is printed at the top of the shield. "USA" is between the columns of the shield and "USA FIVE" is printed on the edge of the most noticeable change, the giant purple "5".
Photo from moneycenteral.msn.com
The giant purple "5". Yes, well, it was added to help those who are visually impaired but it may just leave more of us wishing that we were. Not that I necessarily dislike it, mostly I'm not too concerned with what the money looks like since I'm not collecting it for its aesthetic qualities, but a more reasonable choice, or at least a more colorful choice, would have been just to make the whole thing purple and start color coding all of the bills, much like many, if not most, other countries do. Maybe the Government doesn't want to get too far away from our 'greenback'.
One Interesting thing about the new five is the use of the EURion constellation which many photocopiers will refuse to copy. This pattern, which is used for the series of little yellow "05"s, is used on many other currencies as well.
Other changes to the bill include the increased use of water marks and an added security strip like those already used for higher denominations.
Compared to those previous drab gray and green bills the US has made some colorful changes to the currency, but it is still nothing compared to the beautifully crafted and colored currencies of Venezuela, Switzerland, and Kyrgyzstan.
The Bolívar Fuerte
The Bolívar Fuerte is the new currency of Venezuela since January 1, 2008. It replaced the old Bolívar which was the currency between 1879 and 2007. My personal favorite currency, it is a great example of the amazing bright and colorful notes that are seen throughout many South America countries.
The Bolívar Fuerte includes illustrations of Francisco de Miranda, Pedro Camejo, Cacique Guaicaipuro, Luisa Cáceres de Arismendi, Simón Rodríguez and Simón Bolívar, on the fronts. On the backsides, the notes feature Amazon river dolphins, a giant armadillo, an American Harpy eagle, the hawks bill turtle, a spectacled bear and the red siskin.
Pearly white, cream, yellow, brown, gray, blue, violet, green, olive. Chicken eggs are colorful even before they're dyed and decorated for Easter celebrations. "The color of eggs comes exclusively from the pigment in the outer layer of the shell and may range from an almost pure white to a deep brown, with many shades in between.
The only determinant of egg color is the breed of the chicken. . . . A simple test to determine the color of a hen's eggs is to look at her earlobes. If the earlobes are white, the hen will lay white eggs. If the earlobes are red, she will produce brown eggs" (David Feldman, Why Do Clocks Run Clockwise? and other Imponderables, 1988.
Seemingly unintelligible colour names often tell fascinating and amusing stories, at least to those who are willing to delve beneath the surface. We continue our strange and wonderful adventure into the uncharted fringes of language, where we'll discover new "shades of meaning."
The light green colour called hmm represents a sound which a “great conversationalist” makes while listening to keep people talking, as discussed in Think Like Your Customer: A Winning Strategy to Maximize Sales by Understanding and Influencing How and Why Your Customers Buy by Bill Stinnett.
The bright orange colour called hmmmm refers to a “trite expression of wonder, envy and awe” that, along with “oh my,” “well well,” “say now,” and “really?” “will cover your adventures in New York” (Hunter S. Thompson, The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967).
The golden colour similarly called hmmmm recalls a chant from the Igbo Folk Epic from Sub-Saharan Africa, as discussed in Traditional Storytelling Today: An International Sourcebook by Margaret Read MacDonald.
The dark red colour called hmph recalls an exclamation by the “Good Magician Humfrey” that, according to a translator golem, means “You blundering aviary feline! Get your catty feet on the ground!” (Piers Anthony, Source of Magic).
The pale orange colour called hnnn echoes the grunt of Frankenstein’s monster, according to poet John Quinn in “Subway Station Meditation (New York),” Do Not Ask Me to Compete with the Angels.
The deep purple colour called hssss refers to the sound of a city bus pulling away from a stop, as in The Hearse You Came In On by Tim Cockey.
The bright blue colour called kkkk refers to the sound of silk being stolen: "Aye, Silk’s what they fancy out in India ... over the wall, in your Window, kkkk! Job’s done." (Thomas Pynchon, Mason & Dixon).
The deep green colour called kkkkkkk echoes the rapid bill-clapping sound of the Choco Toucan, as described in Toucans, Barbets and Honeyguides: Ramphastidae, Capitonidae and Indicatoridae by Lester L. Short.
The dusky purple colour called mmmmm recalls an expression of feeling vulnerable upon finding oneself stranded in a strange place at night, as in the song “Cross Road Blues” by Robert Johnson, as transcribed in Trouble in Mind by Leon F. Litwack.
The pale yellow colour called nnn echoes a response to the question “You spigotty anglease?” in Finnegans Wake by James Joyce.
All of these colour name insights are derived from my Dictionary of Improbable Words, which is available for online reading.
Cover by jovike.
About the Guest Author, Craig Conley
Craig is an independent scholar and author of dozens of strange and unusual books, including a unicorn field guide and a dictionary of magic words. He also loves color: Prof. Oddfellow
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