|Color and life are inseparable. In all its shades, tones
and hues, color influences the whole of our life, affecting our moods and
emotions and coloring our personalities. Its beauty and variety enhance
and transform our lives daily.
In ancient cultures color was used as a very special material symbolic of various sacred powers. It was essential for its protective and magical qualities and the shamans or priests of the tribes were likely responsible for rock and cave paintings, choosing the colors and pigments that set the scene for everyone. Many ancient cultures worshiped the sun, the source of all color, harnessing its healing powers. Egyptian gods and goddesses had special colors denoting various qualities and powers. Emotional qualities were attributed to certain colors. Red was seen as aggressive as well as life-giving and would be placed alongside blue which was subdued yet flowing out to infinity.
In the first century A.D. Jewish historian, Josephus, associated white with earth, red with fire, purple with water and yellow with air. Fifteen centuries later Leonardo da Vinci stated his color preference as “white for the representative of light, without which no color can be seen; yellow for earth; green for water; blue for air; red for fire; and black for total darkness.”
Many ancient peoples gave colors to the four corners of the earth, but these vary over widely diverse cultures such as Old Irish, Mayan and North American Indians. Today, in Navajo sand paintings white represents universal cosmic energy; black, the great void from which all comes; red, life and energy; yellow, the sun; and blue, spirituality.
All over the world colors of symbolic significance have been painted on humans, icons, walls, pottery and stonework; woven into tapestries and beadwork; and incorporated into inlay work, stained glass, glass vessels and jewelry, not only for ornamentation and visual enjoyment, but for the practice of sympathetic and protective magic in all its aspects, and ultimately and simply for the glory of God.
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