Today is a purple day!! I sit here swathed in quilts, soaking up the accumulated warmth that my body endowed this quilting with as I slept, just for a few more moments before I begin my day.
“He wrapped himself in quotations – as a beggar would enfold himself in the purple of Emperors” ~ Rudyard Kipling
This could be said of me. Purple was the colour meant to be only for royalty, way back in history. I have a passion for it. So does my grand daughter, Lizzie. We share that passion. I also have a passion for the written and spoken word and communicating – but I suspect you could easily have guessed that about me.
Purple, the name and the colour, comes from a dye made from the mucus glands of a tropical sea snail, the murex (porphyra in Greek, purpura in Latin). This discovery is attributed to the Phoenician god Heracles, the guardian deity of the city of Tyre. One day his dog bit into a murex shell and its mouth immediately turned purple. His companion, the beautiful nymph Tyrus, declared she would sleep with the god only if he dyed her a garment in the same shade. Heracles obliged and the famous Tyrian purple dye was born.
The dye, and the cloth made from it, was so famous that the Greeks called the land of Tyre and Sidon (equivalent to modern Lebanon) Phoinike, “the land of the purple”. It required 250,000 shellfish to produce one ounce of Tyrian purple dye, making it very slow and costly to produce. The preferred method was to collect vast piles of shellfish and to allow them to decompose in the sun (classical authors attest to the stench). Production and export of the dye began around 1,200BC and fuelled the Phoenician expansion across the Mediterranean. By the third century BC, Tyrian purple was worth more than gold: a pound of it cost three times the yearly wage of a Roman baker.
The centuries-old recipe for Tyrian purple was lost to the Western world in 1453, when the Ottoman Empire conquered Constantinople. It wasn’t until 1856 that the secret of purple was rediscovered, when Félix Henri de Lacaze-Duthiers, a French zoologist, saw a fisherman squirting a design on to his shirt using a shellfish. In 1909, the Austrian chemist Paul Friedländer worked out the chemical properties of the dye and saw that it was almost the same as blue indigo, extracted from an Indian pea plant called Indigofera tinctoria. Indigo is also present in Isatis tinctoria, a member of the cabbage family – better known as woad. Woad, a popular dye for the Celts and Vikings, is now being used in ink cartridges for printers, because it is more environment-friendly than synthetic blue dyes.
Wednesday. Today. Birthday eve. A small ripple of excitement. A reasonable list of things to do at work. Study to throw myself at. Knitting ( a shawl for mum in the identical colour as her dressing gown – a soft lilac!). I am sipping half a lemon squeezed into a glass of warm water working out what my clothing will be today and it came to me. Purple.
I have purple leggings and a purple tunic with a wide black belt A deep rich blue purple. Jewellery, to match. A matching purple shawl which is like a blanket, and as I am spending time with AJ tonight I think my warm black winter coat PLUS the shawl. Perfect.
A kettlebell swings/deadlift workout with Bella ( the 8kg kettlebell) and yes I “dance” with Bella several times a week. And NO, I do not think it is strange I name my kettlebell.
I have the ingredients for a green juice ready and waiting by my juicer. I also have the seedlings to water in the greenhouse before I go. Also I will prepare a few meals for Geni ( my chicken pizza – using chicken breast pounded thin as a “base” instead of bread/dough – with toppings piled on top) and a plate with roast beef and steamed veges.
Purple is the colour associated with royalty and bravery ( purple heart ). It is also the colour of mourning in Thailand for widows, and is reputed to have been Cleopatra’s favourite colour.
It is made by mixing red ( heat) and blue ( coolness), when using paint. I lean towards the blue purples myself. My favourite flowers have long been hyacinth and blue iris .
And so I am not mourning; I am celebrating life. And colour.
As a young girl, my parents sent me to have my makeup professionally “done” an the learn the colours that best suited my complexion. The make up artist chose lilac and despite my now advanced middle age (my autumn years) it is still the same lilac/purple palatte that best enhances th green of my eyes and the red tones of my hair.
I am comfortable in and with purple.