History, Symbolism and Meaning of Black Colour

How do we define the Colour Black?

Is it the deepest or the shallowest? What is the meaning of the beautiful black pearls or the all-consuming black night?

Touching all cultures across the globe, black adorns a deep significance everywhere it goes. Black is the absorption of all colours. It isn’t a basic primary or secondary colour but a combination of the whole of all of them! Unlike white, it is a vivid colour. Even after being the colour with the most negative associations, it is one of the most intriguing colours.

The colour black mostly translates to authority, secrecy, mystery, unhappiness, depression and mourning. Black signifies the absence of light and thus colours, but its presence is not at all weak. People are scared of darkness and black, intimidates most people.

Black is associated with sophistication and elegance. It is easy to find people wanting a powerful and elegant impression to style in black hues. The mysterious black colour stimulates and induces seduction and sexiness. The fashion industry is also not behind when it comes to dependency on black fabrics. As they say,

One can never go wrong with a black suit! 

Black colour of universe

From steep in sorrow to sleek and chic, the colour of sophistication has many meanings and interpretations. Read on to dig deeper about black colour.  


1.) Black Colour in our environment:

Our environment has some gorgeous elements with the colour black. Many famous black coloured animals are black mamba, Black Panther, the black widow spider, and American black bear. In birds, the black colour is symbolic of the black crows and Asian koel.

In astronomy, black is the colour of the infinite universe, the black hole and black-body radiation. It has always been a subject of great fascination and research. 

Be it the Paleolithic man or the Neolithic man both, supposedly, depended on charcoals besides dyes like red and yellow. The famous Statue of Anubis, found at the tomb of the great pharaoh Tutankhamun, is a black animal god of the underworld.

symbolism of Black rose

A rare but stunning presence of black colour is in the black rose. The flower has both positive and negative affiliations, but the final answer lies in the saying “Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder“.

The legendary musician Johnny Cash is also known as the “man in the black”. 


2.) Positive meanings of Black colour:

With the association like sophistication, authority and elegance, black colour evokes a presence of class and flair. The black colour is the most preferred for formal attire. It is the most preferred colour from judges and lawyers to priests and corporate giants. A lady’s wardrobe is said to be incomplete with the classic little black dress.

 

Influence of black colour in music

The unambiguity of black colour makes its statement very clear and defined. The colour psychology of black hue defines it as a protective and stress-relieving tone. 

The intimidating effect of the black colour makes it the most preferred colour by the success-oriented people. Colour psychology has shown that working and business class women prefer black colour to impose their strong will and success. It is oozing with style statement and sexiness.

The Black coloured has gained a much positive image in the 21st Century. It is associated with movements like Black Lives Matter and Black Power


3.) Negative Traits and Associations:

Negative meaning of black

Black might be the most negatively interpreted colour of all! 

Black magic and witchcraft, death and the devil, depression and fear, all can be painted with the same black colour. It has numerous negative symbolism and associations. Children are more often than not scared of dark black rooms. It is all-consuming, making it fearful. 

The colour black fills the events of mourning and deaths. In many cultures, it is customary to wear black on such occasions. 

The colour psychology of black expresses it as the colour of anger, frustration, sadness, fear and trauma. Many expressions use it to express negativity. Such as:

  • Black sheep
  • Blacklisted
  • Black market
  • Black plague
  • Black propaganda

In movies, the villains are in black overall, mostly. From Dart Vader to The Wicked Witch of the West, all the bad guys wear black. 

Some negative effects of black colour on the body are stress and uninterest. It may give rise to gloominess, unfriendliness and emptiness. The balance of black with other shades is suggested to avoid such emotions.


4.) Different culture and Different meanings:

From black magic to a lawyer’s honour, the black colour means numerous things in different societies and cultures. Wouldn’t it be delightful to travel to all these places to understand the depth of black intertwined in their culture?

Well, we are taking this tour right there, right now!

Let us start from the eastern lands of Asia. In China, the black colour is symbolic of one of the five elements of life, water. It is also associated with any form of disorders, either negative or positive. The black colour was also the imperial colour during the Zhou Dynasty of China. 

In Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism, black and white make the Yin and Yang symbol, the perfect harmony.

meaning of yin and yang

In Japan, the black colour has many meanings. It has the interpretations as mystery, night, supernatural creatures and magic, the invisible and death. The Shinto priests of Japan wear black caps as a sign of enlightenment. In Indonesia, black translates as the colour of depth, underground world, demons and disasters. 

In religion, the interpretations are quite varied. The Christian culture associates black with the colour of the universe before God created light. The devil is also synonym to “the prince of darkness“. In Hinduism, the goddess Kali is the embodiment of black colour. She is the destroyer of evil beings and forces. The Roman Catholic priests adorn black clothes as a symbol of penitence and humility.

In the western world, the most prominent association of the black colour is with bereavement and mourning. The memorial services and funeral are conducted and attended in black. In contrast to this, white is the colour for mourning in some Asian cultures like China, India, Vietnam. The other most common affiliation of the black colour is with darkness and evil.


Conclusion:

Concluding the thoughts on the colour Black, it can be found that it has numerous meaning in numerous cultures. It can be revered at some places or disliked in others. It can mean sophistication, authority and elegance or even unhappiness, depression and mourning. The understanding and balance of the use of black can help in setting the perfect environment.