Thinking Colours

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Thinking Colours

Thinking Colours Perception, Translation and Representation Edited by

Victoria Bogushevskaya and Elisabetta Colla

Thinking Colours: Perception, Translation and Representation Edited by Victoria Bogushevskaya and Elisabetta Colla This book first published 2015 Cambridge Scholars Publishing Lady Stephenson Library, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE6 2PA, UK British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Copyright © 2015 by Victoria Bogushevskaya, Elisabetta Colla and contributors All rights for this book reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner. ISBN (10): 1-4438-7529-5 ISBN (13): 978-1-4438-7529-5


Contributors ............................................................................................... vii Introduction ............................................................................................... xv COLOUR AND COGNITION A NEW LOOK ON THE SAPIR-WHORF HYPOTHESIS ON COLOURS, BASED ON NEUROSCIENTIFIC DATA.............................................................. 2 Anne Reboul COLOUR AND THE EMOTIONAL ESTIMATION OF FEMALE APPEARANCES IN CHINESE ................................................................................................. 17 Maria Rukodelnikova COLOUR, LANGUAGE AND TRANSLATION GRUE IN CHINESE: ON THE ORIGINAL MEANING AND EVOLUTION OF QĪNG 青 ................................................................................................. 26 Victoria Bogushevskaya MEASURING THE DIVERSITY OF COLOUR NAMING IN ADVERTISING .......... 45 Alena Anishchanka, Dirk Speelman, Dirk Geeraerts COLOUR AND LITERATURE “THE SENSUOUS COLOURS OF PHYSICAL THINGS”: LIU XIE AND CHINESE TRADITIONAL LITERARY THEORY AND CRITICISM (SIXTH CENTURY) ....... 74 Elisabetta Colla THE UNCERTAIN WORLD OF DARKNESS IN THE ILIAD ................................ 95 Yukiko Saito



THE COLOUR OF THE OTHER IN THE MODERN PORTUGUESE YOUTH NOVEL: A READING OF THE BOOKS UMA QUESTÃO DE COR, BY ANA SALDANHA AND BAUNILHA E CHOCOLATE, BY ANA MEIRELES ................................... 118 Amélia Cruz COLOUR AND ART ON COLOUR ............................................................................................. 132 Pedro Calapez SCREAMING RED: COLOUR, AFFECT, AND CINEMA .................................. 147 Reinhold Görling READING COLOUR IN WILLIAM HOGARTH’S NOON .................................. 162 Marcia Marques “THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA APPEARS OF A PURPLE COLOUR TO DIVERS IN BRIGHT SUNSHINE”: BRIEF REFLECTIONS ON THE IDEA OF COLOUR IN GOETHE, KANDINSKY AND KLEE ......................................................... 178 Anabela Mendes COLOUR AND SPACE BEIGE HERITAGE/GOLDEN TOWERS: COLOUR, CULTURE AND ASPIRATION IN UAE ......................................................................... 190 Surajit Chakravarty, Patricia Ball THE COLOUR BLUE: PERCEPTIONS AND REPRESENTATIONS IN TRAVEL AND TOURISM .......................................................................................... 206 Maria João Cordeiro THE COLOUR OF METAL SURFACES IN THE ARCHITECTURAL ENVIRONMENT ......................................................................................... 217 Alessandro Premier KINDERGARTEN COLOUR DESIGNS .......................................................... 226 Pietro Zennaro, Katia Gasparini THE COLOURS OF MILITARY BETWEEN ARCHITECTURE AND PICTORIAL REPRESENTATION: NOTES FOR RESEARCH ............................................... 233 Manuela Zorzi


Anne Reboul, born 1956, is a senior researcher at the National Center for Scientific Research (France). She is a member of L2C2 (Laboratory on Language, the Brain, and Cognition), at the Institute for Cognitive Sciences, in Lyons. She has a Ph.D. in Linguistics, a Ph.D. in Philosophy, did her post-doctoral studies at UC London, and has written several books as well as numerous papers in French and English (see http://l2c2.isc.cnrs. fr/en/members/annreboul/). Her present interests center on the links between perception, conceptualization and language, as well as on the link between the social function of language and the universality of implicit communication in languages. Anne Reboul’s most recent publications include a book (Langage et cognition humaine, 2007), two edited books at Springer (Mind, Values and Metaphysics, 2014), a special issue of Neuropsychologia (2014), as well as a number of papers in international journals. Maria Rukodelnikova, born 1965 in Moscow. 1985-1990: student at the Moscow State University, Language and Literature Department (Structural and Applied Linguistics). 1990-1993: the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, postgraduate student. 1995 PhD (Chinese linguistics) thesis theme “Structural and semantic analysis of verbal complexes in Mandarin Chinese”. 1993-2000: the Institute of Oriental Studies, the Russian Academy of Sciences, senior researcher. 2000-ongoing: Head of the Oriental Languages Department in the Institute of Linguistics, Russian State University for the Humanities (RSUH), Moscow, Russia. 2007-ongoing: Deputy Director of the Confucius Institute, RSUH. Main articles: Structural and semantic analysis of verbal complexes in Mandarin Chinese. Moscow, 1995. Verbal complexes in Chinese. //Pan-Asiatic Linguistics. Proceedings of the IV International Symposium on Language and Linguistics. Bangkok, Thailand, 1996, Volume 2 pp. 617-626. Chinese Verbal Lexemes in Complex Units: Functional Reduction. //34. Linguistisches Kolloquium. Abstracts. Mainz, Germany, 1999. p.130. Dungan language. //Collier’s Encyclopaedia. CD-ROM 1999.



Chinese language. //Languages of the World. Avanta+ (Encyclopaedia for children). Moscow 2005. Negation and prospects of typological change in Dungan. //RSUH/RGGU BULLETIN №8 (88) Academic Journal. Series: Philology. Linguistic Studies. Moscow 2012 pp. 95-102. Alena Anishchanka, post-doctoral researcher at the Department of Linguistics at the University of Leuven (QLVL). Her current research focuses on colour categorization and the semantics of colour names. Her interests include usage-related variation in semantics, data visualization and quantitative methods for language analysis. Dirk Speelman, professor of Linguistics at the University of Leuven (QLVL). The focus of his research lies in the fields of corpus linguistics, computational lexicology and variational linguistics. Much of his work focuses on methodology and on the application of statistical and other quantitative methods to the study of language from a usage-based perspective. Dirk Geeraerts, professor of Linguistics at the University of Leuven (QLVL). His main research interests involve the overlapping fields of lexical semantics, lexicology, and lexicography, with a specific focus on social variation and diachronic change. His theoretical orientation is mainly that of Cognitive Linguistics, with a special emphasis on empirical methods for linguistic analysis. Victoria Bogushevskaya graduated from Beijing Language and Culture University (China) and received Honours in Chinese Linguistics at Vladivostok Far Eastern State University (Russia). Her doctorate in Chinese Linguistics was awarded by the Institute of Asian and African Studies, Lomonosov Moscow State University (Russia) in 2008 with a dissertation on the semantics of colour terms in Chinese. Victoria resided in Beijing for over a decade, where she worked as a translator for a joint Sino-Russian enterprise and China Translation and Publishing Corporation. Presently, Victoria teaches Chinese Language and Civilisation (graduate course) at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore and the History of Chinese Art (undergraduate course) at the University of Urbino (Italy). Her main fields of research interest include cross-cultural differences in colour categorisation, colour naming, psycholinguistics, historical semantics and translation studies.

Thinking Colors: Perception, Translation and Representation


Yukiko Saito teaches at Kyoto Seika University in Japan, and she specialises in ancient Greek Literature, especially Homer. Since completing her postgraduate studies at the University of St. Andrews, her main research has focused on the expression of colour in antiquity. Her current study of grey, dark-colour terms (polios, kelainos, skotos, etc.) in the Iliad continues her research into the poetic and cultural significance of colour in the Homeric epic. She has already published on pink (rodon) in 2009, purple (porphureos) in 2010, and green (khloros) in 2011. Elisabetta Colla - Elisabetta Colla is Assistant Professor in the Asian Studies graduate programme at the School of Arts and Humanities University of Lisbon. She holds a PhD in Studies of Culture obtained from the Faculty of Human Sciences of the Portuguese Catholic University of Lisbon, she has obtained a Master’s degree in Asian Studies from the Faculty of Human Sciences of Oporto, a postgraduate degree in Modern Chinese Studies from the Technical University of Lisbon, a Master’s degree (Laurea) in Oriental Languages and Literatures from “Ca’Foscari” University of Venice, and a diploma in Chinese Language and Culture from the former Beijing Languages Institute. She currently teaches Asian Art, Introduction to Asian Literatures and History of Ancient and Imperial China at the School of Arts and Humanities of Lisbon University of Lisbon. She is a member of the Research Centre for Communication and Culture (Portuguese Catholic University of Lisbon), associate researcher at the Macau Scientific and Cultural Centre (Lisbon) and correspondent of the International Confucian Association. Publications: . Amélia Cruz graduated in Germanic Philology and holds a Master Degree in German Studies, with a specialization in German Linguistics, from the University of Lisbon. She is currently working on her Ph.D. project in Culture Studies at the Catholic University of Portugal, in Lisbon. Publications within the Ph.D. project framework: «Die Übersetzung im Bereich der Jugendliteratur – ein unverzichtbarer Bestandteil des interkulturellen Dialogs», von Hoff, Dagmar and Seruya, Teresa (Hg.), Zwischen Medien / Zwischen Kulturen. Poetik des Übergangs in philologischer, filmischer und Kulturwissenschaftlicher Perspektive, 2011, Munich: Martin Meidenbauer, pp. 241-251; «A construção de “adolescência” no romance juvenil alemão e português: uma leitura de Die Zeit der schlafenden Hunde, de Mirjam Pressler, e de A Lua de Joana, de Maria Teresa Maia Gonzalez», Azevedo, Fernando, Mesquita, Armindo, Balça, Ângela e Silva, Sara (coord.),



Globalização na Literatura Infantil. Vozes, Rostos e Imagens, 2011, Raleigh, N.C. USA: Lulu Entreprises, pp. 103-125; «Die Konstruktion von “Adoleszenzidentität” im deutschen und portugiesischen Jugendroman: eine transkulturelle Lektüre der Bücher Crazy von Benjamin Lebert und Rafa e as férias de Verão von Fátima Pombo», Real – Revista de Estudos Alemães, Em Trânsito– Übergänge. Grenzen überschreiten in der Germanistik, Pedro Calapez is a visual artist. He was born in Lisbon (1953) where he lives and works. His work involves architecturally inspired images, installations and videos whilst best known for abstract works in compounded groups of wall-mounted aluminium panels of variable sizes and thicknesses painted with broad brushstrokes of colourful acrylics. He began taking part in exhibitions in the 1970s and had his first solo exhibition in 1982. He has exhibited his work individually in various galleries and museums, such as Petit jardin et paysage, Salpêtriére Chapel, Paris (1993); Memória involuntária, Chiado Museum, Lisbon (1996); Campo de Sombras, Pilar i Joan Miró Foundation, Majorca (1997); Selected works 1992-2004, Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon (2004); piso zero, CGAC - Galicia Contemporary Art Centre, Santiago de Compostela (2005); Gymnasium, Carpe Diem, Lisbon (2012).
 Among the most outstanding of the various collective exhibitions in which he has taken part are the biennials of Venice (1986) and Sao Paulo (1987 and 1991) and the exhibitions: Perspectives, Marne-La-Vallée Contemporary Art Centre (1994); Tage Der Dunkelheit Und Des Lichts , Bonn Art Museum (1999); Beaufort Outside - Inside, Contemporary Art Triennial, PMMK Museum, Ostend (2006), Smell Colour, Arts Santa Monica, Barcelona (2011). Reinhold Görling, full professor of media and cultural studies at Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf and previously professor at Universities in Hannover, Innsbruck and Irvine (USA). He works at the intersection between media philosophy, psychoanalysis, performative and visual studies. His publications include “Dinamita cerebral”. Politische Praxis und ästhetische Produktion im Spanischen Bürgerkrieg (1986), Heterotopia. Lektüren einer interkulturellen Literaturwissenschaft (1997), Kulturelle Topografien (Ed., 2004), Geste. Bewegungen zwischen Film und Tanz (Ed., 2008), Die Verletzbarkeit des Menschen. Folter und die Politik der

Thinking Colors: Perception, Translation and Representation


Affekte (Ed., 2011), Szenen der Gewalt. Folter und Film von Rossellini bis Bigelow (2014). Marcia Bessa Marques holds a degree in History (University of Lisbon), a BA in English (University of London), and a degree in Modern Languages and Literatures: English and Portuguese Studies (University of Lisbon). She has been a teacher of English as a Foreign Language for over twenty years. She is a PhD candidate working on art and literature in eighteenth-century England. She has been a member of the University of Lisbon Centre for English Studies (ULICES) since 2005. In recent years she has presented papers on several works by William Hogarth, Daniel Defoe, William Powell Frith and George Cruikshank, both in Portugal and abroad. She is the author of “Lendo Marriage A-La Mode, de William Hogarth”, in A Palavra e a Imagem (Lisboa: CEA/Colibri, 2007); “Cruel to Be Kind: William Hogarth’s The Four Stages of Cruelty” in Reframing Punishment: Reflections of Culture, Literature and Morals (Oxford: Inter-Disciplinary Press, 2013; e-book) and in Reframing Punishment: Silencing, Dehumanisation and the Way Forward (Oxford, UK: Inter-Disciplinary Press, in press); and “The power of choice in William Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress.” In The Power of Form: Recycling Myths (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015). Anabela Mendes is Professor at the School of Arts and Humanities University of Lisbon and she is senior researcher in the Research Center for Communication and Culture of the Catholic University of Portugal. She researches and lectures on: Literature in German, German Culture, Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art, Travel Literature, Science and Literature, Modernity and Vanguards, Theatre Theory and Aesthetics, Sociology of the Performing Arts, and has a vast number of publications in these fields. She maintains a regular presence and activity in theatre: writing, translating, dramaturgy and also stage directing. In recent years, she has commissioned several international trans-disciplinarian conferences in Lisbon, Berlin and Goa. She is also a long distance traveller. Recent publications: Anabela Mendes (org.) 2009, Garcia de Orta and Alexander von Humboldt – Across the East and the West, Lisboa: UniEditora. Anabela Mendes et altri, (Org.) 2012, Qual o tempo e o movimento de uma elipse? – Estudos sobre Aby M. Warburg, Lisboa: UniEditora. “Notas para uma Sociologia das Artes do Espectáculo - Reflexão sobre a utilização de parâmetros cognitivos aplicados a públicos de teatro e outras artes” in: Maria Helena Serôdio (dir.), Sinais de Cena 17/APCT



– Associação Portuguesa de Críticos de Teatro, Junho de 2012, pp. 6079. „Ach wie grandios, dass sie eine so harte Mutter hatte! Begegnung, Subjektivität und Erfahrung bei Renée Schwarzenbach-Wille und Annemarie Schwarzenbach“ in: Gonçalo Vilas-Boas/Teresa Martins de Oliveira (Ed.) 2012, Macht in der Schweizer Literatur, Berlin: Frank & Timme, pp. 215-230. Surajit Chakravarty is Assistant Professor of Urban Planning at ALHOSN University in Abu Dhabi. In 2010, he received his PhD in Policy, Planning and Development from the University of Southern California. He also holds a Master’s Degree in Urban Planning from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research interests include community planning, economic development, public space and public art, ethnic enclaves, urbanization in the developing world, and cities in cinema. Banerjee, T., Chakravarty, S. and Chan, F.H. (Forthcoming, 2015). Negotiating the Identity of Diaspora: Ethnoscapes of Southeast Asian Communities in Los Angeles. IN Moroni, S. and Weberman, D. (Eds.) Space and Pluralism. Budapest: CEU Press. Chakravarty, S. and Qamhaieh, A. (2014). Housing, Oligopoly and World City Aspirations in Abu Dhabi. IN Lees, L., Shin, H. and LopezMorales, E. (Eds.) Global Gentrifications: Uneven Development and Displacement, Policy Press: Bristol. Chakravarty, S. and Irazabal, C. (2011). Planning for World Heritage Designation in Agra, India: Golden Goose or White Elephant? Journal of the Community Development Society, 42(3). Chakravarty, S. (2011). Community as craft. Book Review of ‘The Craftsman’ (Sennett, 2008). Planning Theory and Practice, 12(1), 169171. Irazabal, C. and Chakravarty, S. (2007). Entertainment-Retail Centers in Hong Kong and Los Angeles: Trends and Lessons. International Planning Studies, 12(3), 241-271. Patricia Ball was born in Liverpool, UK and trained as a designer at Leeds Metropolitan University and De Montfort University, Leicester. She has also taught interior design for almost 30 years. She has been director of an interior design programme at Chelsea College of Art and Design, University of the Arts, in London. In 1997, she was asked to set up an interior design programme in Malaysia as a satellite programme of the

Thinking Colors: Perception, Translation and Representation


University of the Arts. She has also taught at Dar Al Hekma College in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and the University of Nizwa, Oman. For the last two years, Patricia has been teaching on the Interior Design programme at ALHOSN University in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Patricia has travelled extensively throughout the Middle East, Japan, Australia, Vietnam, Europe and America and brings this extensive knowledge to influence her teaching on Colour. She has also taken students on study tours of London, Singapore, as well as Rome, Florence, Venice and Milan. She draws and paints in her spare time and her work has been exhibited in Abu Dhabi and London. Maria João Cordeiro studied Modern Languages and Literatures (English and German) in Lisbon, Trier and Hamburg. She took her first degree in 1993 and received her MA in German Studies in 1998 with a dissertation on literature and cinema. In 2008, she earned her PhD in German Studies with a project that focused on the tourist representation of Portugal in contemporary German guidebooks and newspaper travel articles. She is currently assistant professor at the Beja Polytechnic Institute and a member of the Research Centre for Communication and Culture of the Catholic University of Portugal. Alessandro Premier Architect, PhD in Building Technology. Adjunct professor of Building Technology at Udine University, Department of Civil Engineering and Architecture and at Iuav University of Venice, Department of Design and Planning in Complex Environments. Founding member of the Research Centre “Eterotopie – Color, Light and Communication in Architecture”. His researches are focused on chromatic relationships in architectural surfaces and between building and its environment. His specific fields of research are: metal skins and their construction systems, static and dynamic shading devices, environmental quality and sustainability, colour and light in architecture. Pietro Zennaro, National Scientific Qualification: full professor, architect, postgraduate in philosophy (aesthetic); member of the Department of Design and Planning on Complex Environments, the University Iuav of Venice; teachings: Environental Design at the Iuav University of Venice; teacher and guest lecturer at many Universities (Milan Polytechnic, Paris, Liege, Karlsruhe, Eindhoven, Vien); Principal Researcher of the Iuav Research Unit “Colour and Light in Architecture”; Member of many National and International Research Programs. His current research focus are on contemporary thought on art, colour,



architecture and technology. Wrote more than 190 national and international scientific refereed publications. Katia Gasparini, National Scientific Qualification: associate professor, architect, PhD in Building Technology; lecturer: Building Technology at the Iuav University of Venice, Innovation Technology for the Building Envelope at Milan Polytechnic; heads the Research group “Advanced Colour Technologies” of the Iuav Research Unit “Colour and Light in Architecture”; member of many national and international research programs. Her current research interests focus on: media architecture; smart systems for media architecture; requalification, regeneration and exploitation of the built environment by colour and light systems. Freelance architect on the topics mentioned. Wrote more than 80 national and international scientific refereed publications. Manuela Zorzi (1962), architect, received her PhD in Architectural and Urbanistic History in 1992. She has since been a free researcher at the Iuav University of Venice and since 2010 a member of the Unità di Ricerca Colour and Light in Architecture. She focuses particularly on Venetian architecture. In relation to the topic of colour and military architecture she has published: "Il ruolo del colore nell'architettura militare veneta", in AAVV, Il coloore nel costruito storico. Innovazione, Sperimentazione, Applicazione” Genoa, 2011; "I colori delle fortezze. Il caso veneto", in AAVV, Colore e Colorimetria. Contributi Multidisciplinari, Vol. VIII A, Milan 2012, pp. 129-132; The "monochrome" of Giovanni Maria Falconetto, in AAVV, Chromoland, Verona 2012.


La tendance dominante de la couleur doit être de servir le mieux possible l'expression. —Henri Matisse

In his “Notes of a Painter” (1908) Henry Matisse states that “the chief function of colour should be to serve expression as well as possible” (Flam 1995). Matisse had an innate capability of blending words and colours as if parts of the same dimension. This concept, however, is truly antique and draws our memory back to a Classical Latin expression attributed to Horace “ut pictura poesis”2. Colours and words are the two factors that come into play in processes of “negotiation” (Eco 2003) between the world and its linguistic representation. Before getting categorized, interpreted and having its meaning assigned, any environmental phenomenon is primarily detected by our sensory system. Vision provides us with the major part of the sensorial information we build up from the surrounding reality. This includes the actual scope for perceiving colour. Furthermore, in the process of visual perception, other senses are constantly involved to provide an integrated representation of the phenomena, which is encoded in memory and shared by a culture. That is why, “when one utters a colour term, one is not directly pointing to a state of the world, but is connecting or correlating that term with a cultural unit or concept” (Eco 1985). Translation must, first of all, respect the principle of equivalence. However, in the process of translation—as in any kind of negotiation—there is a certain loss of original meaning and a subsequent adjustment of signification. Representation is the production of meaning through language. In 1This

volume was inspired by the conference “Thinking Colours: Perception, Translation and Representation” held in Lisbon in March 2012, organized by the Center for Communication and Culture (CECC) of the Portuguese Catholic University and with the financial support of the Fundação para Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT-Portugal). This event was made possible thanks to the efforts of a multidisciplinary team coordinated by Peter Hanenberg and composed of Ana Margarida Abrantes, Victoria Bogushevskaya, Ana Cristina Cachola, Elisabetta Colla and Verena Lindemann. 2 Lit. “as is painting so is poetry”.



representation, we use signs, organized into languages of different kinds, to communicate meaningfully with others (Hall 1997). The essays collected into this volume are organized into five interrelating sections exploring the discourse on the interaction between sensation, perceptions of colour and the various forms of its cultural representation. The contributors analyse the aspects related to colour ‘labelling’, its mediation and representation, consider traditional and new approaches and explore the cultural productivity of colour across different fields. Colour is presented within a conceptual framework that fosters alliances between the humanities and the social and natural sciences. The place where science meets the humanities is cognitive culture studies (Hanenberg 2011), and this is where our book begins: Part I is dedicated to studying colour from a cognitive perspective. It opens with an article by Anne Reboul that provides the results of neuro-scientific experiments on colour categorization, interpreted as favourable to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. Maria Rukodelnikova studies canons and stereotypes of female beauty in both Chinese and Western cultures. Part II contains essays dealing with issues surrounding the translation of colour lexicons and covers topics such as composite colour categories in Chinese by Victoria Bogushevskaya and colour metonymy in advertising by Alena Anishchanka, Dirk Speelman and Dirk Geeraerts. The papers grouped in Part III explore the negotiation that occurs between colours and literature in a masterpiece of Chinese literary criticism Wenxin Diaolong (The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons) by Liu Xie (Elisabetta Colla), colour metaphors in Homeric epics (Yukiko Saito) and finally the interpretation of colour in the modern Portuguese youth novels “Uma Questão de Cor” and “Baunilha e Chocolate” (Amélia Cruz). Colour in the visual arts constitutes Part IV that begins with an article by Pedro Calapez, the Portuguese visual artist renowned for his use of vivid colours and the optical effects they create, and where he explains how he uses materials to challenge viewers. Reinhold Görling’s study is dedicated to the semiotics and psychological effects of RED in cinema. Marcia Marques and Anabela Mendes analyze the associative meanings of colour in the works of famous painters as well as their theories of colour. The studies in Part V emphasize the usage of colour and colour preferences within different cultural (Surajit Chakravarty and Patricia Ball) and social environments, including peculiarities in design and architecture (Pietro Zennaro and Katia Gasparini; Alessandro Premier;

Thinking Colors: Perception, Translation and Representation


Manuela Zorzi) and the symbolism of colour in tourism (Maria João Cordeiro). Many of the questions addressed throughout this volume stem from the dialogic interaction among the contributors representing various different fields of research. We hope that the readers come away with a deeper understanding of two messages. First, the categorization and the interpretation of colour are a priori emotional and vary from culture to culture. Colour names have their own “cultural memory” and references, they can either “remember” or “forget” some notions relevant to the speakers’ cultural tradition. Second, as a cultural puzzle, colour produces very strong associative and symbolic meanings and thus ensuring it remains a strong semiotic resource and a powerful instrument for conveying and communicating meaning.

References Eco, Umberto. 1985. “How culture conditions the colours we see”. In On sings, edited by Marshall Blonsky, 157-175. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. —. 2003. Dire quasi la stessa cosa: esperienze di traduzione [Saying almost the same thing: experiences in translation]. Milano: Bompiani. Hall, Stuart. 1997. “The work of representation”. In Representation: Cultural representations and signifying practices, edited by Stuart Hall, 13-64. London: SAGE. Hanenberg, Peter. 2011. “Cognitive Culture Studies – Where science meets the humanities”. In Cognition and Culture: An Interdisciplinary Dialogue, edited by Ana Margarida Abrantes and Peter Hanenberg, 3746. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang GmbH. Flam, Jack D. (ed.). 1995. Matisse on art. Berkley: University of California Press.



Introduction Sapir and Whorf (the latter being the student and disciple of the former) were American linguists who specialized in the Amerindian languages of North America, working throughout the first half of the last century. These languages are highly different from European languages, such as English. Notably, they have no tense morphology, a fact that led Sapir and Whorf to the very strong claim that Amerindians themselves had no sense of time. Moreover, this also led them to a more general hypothesis, known as the "Sapir-Whorf hypothesis", according to which language is the determinant of cognition, understood as the way people perceive the world. In as much as languages differ, the people speaking them will (literally) perceive the world differently. More specifically, "human beings do not live in the objective world alone, nor alone in the world of social activity as ordinarily understood, but are very much at the mercy of the particular language which has become the medium of expression for their society. The worlds in which different societies live are distinct worlds, not merely the same worlds with different labels attached" (Sapir 1958, 69. My emphasis). Furthermore, in Whorf's version, "we dissect nature along the lines laid down by our native languages. The categories and types that we isolate from the world of phenomena we do not find there because they stare every observer in the face; on the contrary, the world is presented in a kaleidoscopic flux of impressions which has to be organized by our minds – and this means largely by the linguistic systems in our minds" (Whorf 1956, 213-214. My emphasis). In other words, the human mind is a blank slate that language fills and enables not only to think but also to conceptualize and to categorize the furniture of the world; that is, without language, there are no concepts and no categories and only a medley of sensations.

Anne Reboul


The problem with general principles is that they can too easily be satisfied to actually prove interesting, i.e., they often are trivial. The SapirWhorf hypothesis can indeed be weakly verified, in which case, it would be trivial. Hence, the first thing to do is to examine the conditions that should be met for the hypothesis not to be trivial. The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is bi-dimensional in the sense that it predicts an asymmetrical co-variation – concepts will vary depending on the language spoken, while the reverse is not true –, and has an explanatory goal – it is because of the language spoken that a given human group holds the concepts it has. This suggests that the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis proves trivial should the co-variation not be constrained by some condition, to be formulated below, and/or if there is an alternative and more general explanation for it. I shall cash out the co-variation in terms of the philosophical notion of supervenience that may informally be defined as follows: "A set of properties A supervenes upon another set B just in case no two things can differ with respect to A-properties without also differing with respect to their B-properties. In slogan form, 'there cannot be an Adifference without a B-difference'" (McLaughlin and Bennett 2011, p. 1).

Regarding co-variation or supervenience, triviality or relevance will depend on how either the supervening or the subvening properties are defined. On the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, the subvening properties are fairly straightforward: they are linguistic forms (from syntactic structures to classes of lexical items). The definition of the supervening properties, i.e., the cognitive properties, raises the problematic dimension. There are indeed two types of descriptions of these supervening cognitive properties: • in terms of ability: a given cognitive ability can exist in a given population with its specific language if and only if the relevant corresponding linguistic form exists; • in terms of facilitation: the ability exists in all cases (regardless of the language spoken), but the existence of the relevant linguistic form makes its exercise easier. This, indeed, is where the availability of an alternative explanation comes in. Facilitation can be explained not through a direct link between language and cognition, but through the commonplace principle (from learning theory) that an ability improves when it is exercised (see Bloom et al. 1996). By contrast, no alternative explanation is available for the first interpretation. In other words, the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is non-trivial


A New Look on the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis on Colours

only if it can be shown that the relevant cognitive abilities co-vary with language relative to their existence rather than to their facilitation. Thus, one can draw two predictions from the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis: • a trivial prediction: the presence of a linguistic form in a given language will facilitate the exercise of the corresponding cognitive ability in its speakers; • a non-trivial prediction: the absence of a linguistic form in a given language predicts the absence of the corresponding ability in its speakers. Finally, we should be clear that testing the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis must be based on non-linguistic cognitive tasks in groups of people speaking languages that differ relative to the corresponding linguistic forms. This has been done in four domains: space, time, numerals and colour. I concentrate here on colour, before returning to the other topics in the conclusion.

Colour: preliminaries Colours are the paramount example of what have been known in philosophy as secondary qualities ever since Locke. Basically, primary qualities are properties that objects have independent of any observer, while secondary qualities are properties that objects produce in people (typically sensations). While the first are objective, the second will at best be subject to inter-subjective agreement, but can indeed differ from one individual to the next. What is more, appearances to the contrary, colour is a continuum, the colour spectrum, with boundaries that seem rather arbitrary, as shown by the linguistic variations in the terms for colour. In 1969, Berlin and Kay proposed that all languages have between two and eleven colour terms, following a hierarchy: [white, black] + red + [(green + yellow) or (yellow + green)] + brown + [orange and/or pink and/or purple and/or grey]

In other words, languages with two words have black and white (dark vs. light), languages with three words add red, etcetera. This fairly simple view has been completed and significantly complicated by the World Colour Survey (hereafter WCS) initiated by Stanford University. Responding to criticisms addressed to the initial study, mainly concentrating on the limitations of the linguistic survey

Anne Reboul


made, both in terms of number and variety of languages, the WCS has since collected data on colour terms in 110 languages spoken in nonindustrial societies, from 2,616 informers, most of them monolingual. Using the Munsell scale 1 , each informer was asked to perform two complementary tasks: • name the colour when presented with a swatch (for all swatches on the scale); • show the best example for a given colour on the scale. The first task makes it possible to identify the colour boundaries for the language; the second makes it possible to identify the "centroid" (prototype) for the colour. While the initial survey, by Berlin and Kay in 1969, had concluded to the universality of colour categories, the WCS yields a more complex picture: • colour boundaries may differ importantly from one language to the next; • however, colour centroids tend to gather together, despite the differences in boundaries. A fairly natural interpretation is that centroids depend on basic colour perception, which, being biologically based, proves universal among humans with normal colour perception, while boundaries are less constrained by perceptual data. This, in itself, we should note, makes the strong Sapir-Whorf prediction unlikely, as it clearly reports that colour perception is largely independent of language. Furthermore, this is indeed what was found in an experiment comparing performances from English speakers and from Berinmo speakers (Davidoff et al. 1999). Berinmo and English speakers differ in the boundaries they draw on the colour spectrum. English makes a distinction between blue and green that Berinmo lacks. Berinmo contains a distinction between nol (blue+green) and wor (khaki+yellow) that English lacks. Participants were also tested on two non-linguistic tasks: discriminating between colour swatches (within and across linguistic colour categories); re-identifying a colour after a delay (a memory task, again within and across linguistic colour 1

The Munsell scale is a colour scale organized along two dimensions: value, i.e., light vs. dark; and chromatic saturation (roughly, colours). It counts 330 swatches evenly spaced along these two dimensions.


A New Look on the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis on Colours

categories). The results were not unexpected: discriminative perception was not affected by language, but memory was. Given the well-known links between language and memory (see Miller 1956), this is not surprising and clearly insufficient to support the non-trivial prediction of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis given that language did not affect discrimination.

The neuro-scientific twist on colour Adult studies Colour perception is a typical example of categorical perception. Categorical perception occurs when two items on a perceptual continuum appear more distant than two other items on the same continuum even while the distance between the first is, in fact, equivalent to the distance between the second. For instance, the distance between two greens will seem less important than the distance between one of these greens and a blue, even when the distances are the same. In other words, categorical perception "warps" the perceptual space for colours, by lengthening the distance across categories, and shortening it within a category. The main question that neuro-scientific research has addressed is the brain localization of categorical perception for colours: is it localized in the left hemisphere of the brain, where language is primarily localized, or is it localized in the right hemisphere of the brain? The link with the SapirWhorf hypothesis is that this should predict that categorical perception, being by hypothesis language dependent, is lateralized in the left (language) hemisphere. Neuro-cognitive investigations of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis applied two complementary approaches: the lateralization of visual perception and interference. The first is based on the fact that the visual field can be divided into a left visual field and a right visual field. Though both eyes see the whole of the visual field (with a slight difference in angle of view that is the basis of depth perception in humans), due to the rather quirky organization of the human brain, information from the left visual field is treated in the right hemisphere of the brain, and information from the right visual field in the left hemisphere of the brain2. The second, interference, is based on the fact that when participants are asked to perform task A that, by hypothesis, involves a given cognitive faculty (e.g. language), a good 2

This does not mean that information cannot transit from one hemisphere to the next, but the first, early, treatment is lateralized as indicated.

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test of the hypothesis is to ask them to simultaneously perform another task, B, which clearly involves that faculty. If B makes the performance of A more difficult, there is interference demonstrating that the faculty concerned is, indeed, implied in task A. Neuro-scientific investigations have used very similar experimental materials: on a screen, participants see a circle made up of small squares appearing around a fixation cross, all squares being of the same colour apart from one, which is the target and which may appear in the right or in the left visual field (see Fig. 1, below): Figure 1: the experimental set-up for lateralization

The task involves indicating by pressing a key on the computer keyboard whether the target appears on the left or on the right of the fixation cross. The target may be: • a different colour in the same linguistic category as the other squares in the circle (e.g., another green); • a different colour belonging to a different linguistic colour category (e.g., blue as opposed to green). A first experiment (see Gilbert et al. 2006) used both lateralization and interference. It relied on four, evenly spaced, colours: two blues and two greens. There were two conditions: a no-interference condition in which participants only had to indicate which side of the circle the target appeared in by pressing one of two keys; an interference condition in which they had to do the same task and simultaneously repeat lexical


A New Look on the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis on Colours

items 3 that they heard through a headset. The predictions, based on the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, were that, in the no-interference condition, a target from a different category (across category target) would be detected more quickly if presented in the right visual field (RVF) than if presented in the left visual field (LVF), while for a target from the same category (within category target), the field of presentation would have no effect. In the interference condition, these effects should disappear. These predictions were verified by the results. The results reported a significant asymmetry in reaction times in the no-interference condition depending on whether the targets were presented in the LVF or in the RVF for across category targets (reaction times were shorter for presentations in the RVF than for presentations in the LVF). No such asymmetry between fields of presentation was found for within category targets. In the interference condition, there was an asymmetry between fields of presentation but for both within and across category targets. However, when presented in the RVF, within category targets were now detected more quickly than across category targets. In other words, categorical perception for colours seems localized in the left (language) hemisphere of the brain. What is more, the strong interference effect shows that the language faculty is involved in colour perception in this non-linguistic task. This first result was reinforced by a second study (see Siok et al. 2009), using the same paradigm (without the interference condition), but adding fMRI. This reproduced the behavioural results of the no-interference condition in the first study, with an asymmetry between presentations in the RVF and in the LVF for the across category target, and no such asymmetry for the within category target. The fMRI data showed that between category targets more quickly activated language areas in the left hemisphere, than did the within category targets. The first two studies investigated lateralization of categorical perception among participants from a single language. This was remedied by a study (see Roberson et al. 2008) that concentrated on a colour distinction, found in Korean, but not in English, between two sorts of green: yellowish green vs. greenish green. Again, the study applied to four evenly spaced colours, two yellowish greens and two greenish greens, with the same paradigm as in the first study (without the interference condition). There were two groups of participants: English speakers (who do not have the distinction in their language) and Korean speakers (who do). The predictions were that the across-category targets would show the usual asymmetry between presentation in the RVF as opposed to presentation in the LVF in Korean 3

Not including colour words.

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speakers, but not in English speakers. The results were at first disappointing in that, while the nature and presentation of targets made no difference in reaction times for the detection of the target in English speakers, as predicted, across category targets were indeed more quickly recognized by Korean speakers but this occurred regardless of the field of presentation. In other words, there was the same asymmetry in the RVF as in the LVF. However, a second analysis of the results of the Korean speakers brought out a distinction between a slow and a quick group. While in the slow group, the asymmetry was identical for across category targets in both visual fields, presumably because the information from the LVF had time to travel from the right to the left hemisphere of the brain, in the quick group, the usual RVF presentation effect was found in keeping with the results of the previous studies. Thus, the final conclusion of this study is that the language spoken bears a direct influence on the lateralization of categorical perception given that there was no lateralization (and no categorical perception) among the English speakers in contrast with the Korean speakers, who showed a left lateralization for categorical perception. Before we turn to developmental data, what do these adult studies tell us about the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis? As said above, the neuro-scientists interpreted the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis in terms of the lateralization of categorical perception, which, according to that interpretation, should be lateralized in the language (left) hemisphere of the brain. Though this is a perfectly reasonable interpretation of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, is it consistent with a weak (trivial) or a strong (non-trivial) interpretation of it? I shall discuss the weak interpretation after presenting the developmental data but it does seem clear that the lateralization interpretation, though consistent with a non-trivial variety of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, may not prove sufficient to validate it. Under the strong hypothesis interpretation, the within-category targets should not have been detected at all. Let us recall the Whorf quotation: perception and discrimination are themselves supposed to be dependent on language. No linguistic category means no discrimination. However, the within-category targets were detected. What is more, English speakers were as good (in fact quicker) as Korean speakers at detecting the across-category targets for which English has no word in the bilingual study. Thus, while the lateralization interpretation is certainly consistent with the non-trivial variety of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, it is not sufficient in itself to establish its validation. The non-trivial hypothesis predicts not only lateralization of categorical perception but also no discrimination above and over categorical perception. While the results above do verify lateralization,


A New Look on the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis on Colours

they do not verify the absence of discrimination without categorical perception.

Developmental studies Thus, the adult studies, although they establish the lateralization of categorical perception in the left (language) hemisphere, do not provide any justification for considering that all colour perception is categorical perception and language dependent. Indeed, this is consistent with the WCS results, with the difference between the universality of centroids apparently dependent on the colour perception system and linguistic boundaries between colours (i.e., categorical perception) that display a fair degree of system independence. The obvious question remains whether there is categorical colour perception before the acquisition of the colour lexicon or whether categorical perception is brought into existence by acquisition. This question was studied in a pioneering study (see Bornstein et al. 1976). It tested categorical perception in 4-month-old infants on the four primary chromatic colours identified by Berlin & Kay in 1969 (blue, green, yellow, red), using a habituation-dishabituation paradigm. The basic idea behind such paradigms is that participants are shown the same stimulus repetitively, until their attention diminishes, indicating habituation; then, they are presented with a different stimulus, leading to renewed interest (dishabituation). In their study, Bornstein and colleagues presented the infants with a succession of identically coloured screens, and, after habituation, with a differently coloured screen, which belonged either to the same colour category or to another colour category. They found out that infants gaze longer at a new colour from a different category than at a new colour belonging to the same category (as usual, at a constant distance in terms of the colour spectrum). In other words, the infants were capable of categorical perception. This, in itself, seems enough to establish that categorical perception is not language dependent as 4-month-olds remain still far from language acquisition. A further question, given the existence of categorical perception in children, is whether categorical perception is lateralized, and, should this prove the case, whether it is left or right-lateralized. This was tested in another study (see Franklin et al. 2008a). They used a variation on the experimental paradigm used in the adult lateralization studies. Participants were placed in front of a screen in a uniform colour with a fixation cross. The target, a single small circle of a different colour, would appear in any of a range of positions arranged circularly around the fixation cross. It

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could be a different colour in the same category as the background or from a different category. Measurement (made through eye tracking) was made of the time between the appearance of the target on the screen and the onset of the participant’s eye movement toward the target. Thus, the possibilities were, as above, between the within and across category targets as well as the positioning in the LVF or in the RVF. There were two groups of participants: English speaking adults (mean age 21.8 years) and non-linguistic infants (mean age 20.61 weeks). The results showed, as expected, that, in adults, the asymmetry between the within and across category targets was stronger for RVF presentation. In infants, however, asymmetry between the across and within category targets (the first quicker than the second) was found only when the target was presented in the LVF. This both supports Bornstein's results (i.e., the existence of categorical colour perception in non-linguistic children), and also strongly suggests that categorical perception is lateralized in the right hemisphere in pre-linguistic infants. Thus, categorical perception exists in pre-linguistic infants and is lateralized in the right hemisphere of the brain. In adults, by contrast, it is lateralized in the left hemisphere. This means that a change of lateralization occurs at some point or other in development. A rather obvious question is whether this occurs as the result of colour lexicon acquisition. The same research team (see Franklin et al. 2008b) investigated this further question, applying the same paradigm but with different participants. Children, 2 to 5-year-olds, were divided into two groups: "learners" (mean age: 32 months); and "namers" (mean age: 46 months). To be assigned to the "namers" group, children had to successfully perform two tasks: naming the colour of a swatch, and showing a swatch from a name. The children who failed this dual test were "learners". The two groups were then put through the same experiment as in the previous study. The results indicated that across category targets were detected more quickly than within category targets when presented in the LVF in the "learners" group and when presented in the RVF in the "namers" group. Thus, categorical perception is lateralized in the right hemisphere in the "learners" group and in the left hemisphere in the "namers" group, suggesting that the change of lateralization is, indeed, coupled with the acquisition of the colour lexicon. However, given the difference in mean ages between the two groups, it might also stem from some brain maturation process. Franklin and colleagues reanalyzed their results, controlling for age, and came up with the same results, confirming the right hemisphere lateralization for categorical colour perception in


A New Look on the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis on Colours

"learners" and its left lateralization in "namers", and reinforcing the notion that this change is language linked. As stated above, the lateralization data are not enough to verify the non-trivial Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. These further results demonstrate how the best neuro-science can do for the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is to validate only its weak (trivial) interpretation. However, it might rightly be pointed out that these results cannot be accounted for by the facilitation due to learning, as in the explanation proposed above, thus, weakening the criticism of the hypothesis proposed above. Facilitation is not strong in these studies as there was no failure in detecting the within category targets but, at most, a very slight delay when presented in the RVF (for adults). What is more, the results do show that categorical perception is not itself dependent on language as it exists in pre-linguistic children. Rather, what needs explaining is that change in lateralization, which suggests that categorical perception might be "modified" (accounting for differences in colour boundaries – and, hence, in categorical perception – among adults speaking different languages) by the acquisition of the colour lexicon. This suggests that the lateralization of discrimination between categories would be particularly important for areas of language and categories subject to categorical perception, i.e., categories that cut boundaries in perceptual continua. In other words, one would expect left lateralization for categorical perception, but not necessarily for discrete categories, corresponding, for instance, to material objects, such as animals.

Lateralization for discrete categories A study (see Gilbert et al. 2008) investigating precisely the question of the lateralization of discrete categories used black silhouettes of cats and dogs (two of each) in a paradigm similar to that of the lateralization studies of categorical colour perception in adults. In this new detection task, participants were seated in front of a screen with a fixation cross, around which appeared a circle made of black silhouettes, all identical, but for one, the target. The target could be either of the same category or of a different category. Again, participants had to press one of either of two keys to indicate whether the target appeared on the left or on the right side of the circle. There were three conditions: no-interference, verbal interference, non-verbal interference. Interference, in this case, was a memory task. The participants first saw the screen with a fixation cross. Then, they either saw a blank screen (no-interference condition), a screen with a colour word (verbal interference condition), or a screen with a grid

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(non-verbal interference condition). On seeing this second screen, the participant had to press the key to indicate whether the stimulus (verbal or non-verbal) was the same as that seen in the preceding trial. The detection task then began with a screen with a fixation cross, as indicated above. In other words, the participant had either not to remember anything (nointerference condition), to remember a word (verbal interference condition) or to remember a grid (non-verbal interference condition) while performing the detection task. The results were as follows: in the no-interference condition, across category targets were detected significantly more quickly than within category targets when presented in the RVF, but not when presented in the LVF. The results were identical in the non-verbal interference tests while in the verbal interference tests this asymmetry between presentation in the LVF and in the RVF disappeared, revealing the impact of the verbal interference task on the non-verbal detection task. In other words, it appears that just like colours, categories that do not correspond to secondary qualities and are not identified through categorical perception are also left lateralized. Given that there is no categorical perception involved in categorizing cats vs. dogs (they do not form a perceptual continuum), it is doubtful that the lateralization data on colours is directly linked to categorical perception. However, should lateralization prove independent of categorical perception, and should it also exist for categories that are universal (as presumably are the cat and dog categories in all societies that have the two species in their environments), it does not in fact support the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis but merely the (unsurprising) link between lexicalized concepts and language. Hence, the only remaining evidence for the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is the (limited) variety of the colour lexicon in different languages.

Conclusion In conclusion, I would like quickly take a look at other fields in which the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis has been tested, such as space and numbers. Regarding space, languages differ in terms of the reference frames they deploy: the egocentric or relative frame, in which linguistic markers are interpreted relative to the localization and orientation of the speaker; the intrinsic frame, in which markers are interpreted relative to the localization and orientation of an object other than the speaker; the cardinal or absolute frame, in which the markers are interpreted relative to (some of) the cardinal points (North, South, East, West). Though most languages


A New Look on the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis on Colours

have all three reference frames, but preferentially apply the first two, some languages contain only the cardinal frame. According to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, this should impact on the way speakers spatially orient themselves in non-linguistic tasks. Levinson (2004) investigated this prediction, comparing Tzeltal-speaking Tenejapans (Mexico)—who only have the cardinal frame—, and Dutch-speakers— who have all three frames, but preferentially making recourse to the relative and intrinsic. He found that 60% of the Tzeltal-speakers (and none of the Dutch-speakers) applied only the cardinal reference frame. This leaves 40% of Tzeltalspeakers who also use the relative frame, which is absent from their language, in contradiction with the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis that would predict that no Tzeltal-speaker could or would use the relative frame. In the case of numbers, languages differ on whether or not they have number words beyond two. Some languages include only words for one, two, many. For speakers of such languages, the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis would predict that those speakers are unable to count precisely beyond two. Pica et al. (2004) tested this prediction among the Munduruku (an Amazonian tribe) through a series of non-linguistic tasks. Though they were able to perform adequately in tasks involving magnitude evaluations, they were unable to count in any exact way beyond small numbers. Here, we would seem to have a vindication of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. The situation, however, proves more complicated. Humans share with other vertebrates two basic abilities relative to quantity (see Dehaene 2011): subitization, the ability to "perceive" a small number (≤ 3) in an array of objects; approximation, the ability to evaluate the magnitude of an array without actually counting the objects in it. This suggests that the Mundurukus might succeed in counting tasks with small numbers through subitization rather than because they have the relevant words in their vocabulary. There is indeed evidence that this is the case, as Frank et al. (2008) found that English speakers perform on a par with Mundurukus in tasks involving both counting and subitization and when simultaneously performing a linguistic interference task. In other words, language adds an entirely new cognitive dimension (to counting), but does not thereby alter the original abilities and representations. Thus, in the specific case of numbers, it appears that language has been the basis for the construction of a cognitive tool (on that notion, see Dascal 2004). This has not, however, shifted the basic perception of quantity. What is the relevance of the investigations in these other domains to that of colours? It seems clear that these three cognitive domains, space, number and colours, are different in terms of their natures as well as the abilities sustaining them. Space needs orientation and, though it is not, in

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and of itself, discrete, the fact is that humans, like other animals, tend to orient themselves relative to objects (landmarks) that are themselves discrete: language does not seem to add anything here. The perception of quantity does not seem discrete beyond small numbers, though the creation of numbers, a linguistic-based cognitive tool, adds the ability to grasp discrete quantities far beyond this limit. Finally, the colour spectrum is a continuum but categorical perception draws boundaries in it, which may be modified by language without impacting on colour perception itself. Thus, it turns out that these three cognitive domains are fairly heterogeneous (no similar abilities are involved in every case, nor is the impact, if any, of language, identical in all three cases). The conclusion may only be that none of them, according to the present state of our knowledge, in and of themselves, seem to establish the foundations for a strong (non-trivial) interpretation of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.

References Berlin, Brent, and Kay, Paul. 1969. Basic Colour Terms: Their Universality and Evolution. Berkeley/Los Angeles: University of California Press. Bloom, Paul, Peterson, Mary A., Nadel, Lynn, and Garrett, Merrill F. 1996. "Space and Language." In Language and space, edited by Paul Bloom, Mary A. Peterson, Lynn Nadel, and Merrill F. Garrett, 553577. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. Bornstein, Marc H., Kessen, William, and Weiskopf, Sally. 1976. "The Categories of Hue in Infancy." Science 191: 201-202. Dascal, Marcello. 2004. "Language as a Cognitive Strategy." In Cognition and Technology: Co-existence, Convergence and Co-evolution, edited by Barbara Gorayska and Jacob L. Mey (eds), 37-62. Amsterdam, John Benjamins. Davidoff, Jules, Davies, Ian and Roberson, Debi. 1999. "Colour Categories in a Stone-age Tribe." Nature 398: 203-204. Dehaene, Stanislas. 2011. The Number Sense: How the Mind Creates Mathematics. Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press. Frank, Michael C., Fedorenko, Evelina, Lai, Peter, Saxe, Rebecca, Gibson, Edward. 2008. "Verbal Interference Supresses Exact Numerical Representation." Cognitive psychology 64: 74-92. Franklin, Anna, Drivonikou, G. Victoria, Bevis, Lynn, Davies, Ian R.L., Kay, Paul, and Regier, Terry. 2008a. "Categorical Perception of Colour is Lateralized to the Right Hemisphere in Infants, but to the Left


A New Look on the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis on Colours

Hemisphere in Adults." Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) 105: 3221-3225. Franklin, Anna, Drivonikou, G. Victoria, Clifford, Ally, Kay, Paul, Regier, Terry, and Davies, Ian R. L. 2008b. "Lateralization of Categorical Perception of Colour Changes with Colour Terms Acquisition." Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) 105: 1822118225. Gilbert, Audrey L., Regier, Terry, Kay, Paul, and Ivry, Richard B. 2006. "Whorf hypothesis is supported in the right visual field but not the left." Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) 103: 489-494. Gilbert, Audrey L., Regier, Terry, Kay, Paul, and Ivry, Richard B. 2008. "Support for Lateralization of the Whorf Effect beyond the Realm of Colour Discrimination." Brain and Language 105: 91-98. Levinson, Stephen C. 2004. Space in Language and Cognition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. McLaughlin, Brian and Bennett, Karen. 2011. "Supervenience." Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Accessed January 16 2012. Miller, George A. 1956. "The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on our Capacity for Processing Information." Psychological Review 63: 81-97. Pica, Pierre, Lemer, Cathy, Izard, Véronique, Dehaene, Stanislas. 2004. "Exact and Approximate Arithmetic in an Amazonian Indigene Group." Science 306: 499-503. Roberson, Debi, Hyensou, Pak, and Hanley, J. Richard 2008. "Categorical Perception of Colour in the Left and Right Visual Field is Verbally Mediated: Evidence from Korean." Cognition 107, 752-762. Sapir, Edward 1958. Culture, Language and Personality. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Siok, Wai Ting, Kay, Paul, Wang, William S.Y., Chan, Alice H.D., Chen, Lin, Luke, Kang-Kwong, and Tan, Li Hai 2009. "Language Regions of Brain are Operative in Colour Perception." Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) 106: 8140-8145. Whorf, Benjamin Lee 1956. Language, Thought and Reality: Selected Writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.


Once, while discussing with colleagues the cultural codes of different countries, I heard a significant phrase which also becomes an epigraph to this article: “Colour delivers the encoded symbolic information in all the cultures of the world. A man painted his face to show that he was going out on the warpath. A young girl embroidered a cloth with red flowers to let everybody see that she was ready to marry”.

Colour plays an important role in the aesthetic perceptions of personal appearance. Not only the colour of clothes, hair, skin, eyes, lips, but the colour perception of a figure as a whole proves significant. No female face description exists without colour characteristics and associations. In such cases, something beautiful to one nation might be unclear or even unpleasant to other nations. Our research is based on the comparison of colour associations in the description of female appearances in Chinese culture. To begin, we shall very briefly consider the attitudes to complexion in human cultural history.

Introduction In Ancient Times, paint coatings on any part of the body took on magical significance. Some peoples (for example, in Africa) still making recourse to colour in religious rites, and paint not only clothes and faces but their whole bodies as well. Preserved images of Egyptian pharaohs and female sacrifices testify to how the Nile basin inhabitants were the first humans to apply makeup to remain beautiful. They invented the opaque powder. Not only women, but also men (for example, Supreme rulers) practiced the hard blackening of their eyes and painting their eyelids blue (with copper vitriol or grated


Colour and the Emotional Estimation of Female Appearances in Chinese

malachite). Researchers have now proven that Egyptians reddened their cheeks with caustic iris juice. The green colour of the eyes was unnatural but the most attractive to Egyptians. Hence, they encircled their eyes with blue vitriol with Egyptian beauties painting their nails green on both their hands and feet. In the Middle Ages, the concept of female facial beauty also became related to colour preferences. On the one hand, while the Church in Europe strictly condemned application of cosmetics, Italian women, however, persistently had their eyebrows dyed and their faces covered in white lead. Later, Maria Medici transferred this fashion to France. In order to ensure their complexions resembled the ideal, women drank vinegar and ate chalk. It may seem rather strange but black teeth were considered beautiful, probably due to hygiene problems and the mass incidence of rickets among children. Rachitic ladies began using antimony for teeth. Great medieval artists portrayed the beauty standards prevailing in their epochs. In the 14th century, Dutch and German ladies used to extract or shave their foreheads of hair to make their faces look whiter. (see e.g. Portrait of a Lady by Rogier Van Der Weyden (1460) or Portrait of Isabella of Portugal (1445-1450); Portrait of Duchess Katharina von Mecklenburg by Lucas Cranach the Elder, etcetera). In 18th century Europe, snow-white skin, purple lips, black eyelashes and eyebrows were in fashion. Women drew blue (blood) stripes on their temples in order to emphasize the whiteness of their skin and applied slices of mouse fur to create bushy false eyebrows. This is how the complexion of these ladies was described in the second half of the 18th century: the whiteness should be non-uniform; lighter on her forehead, darker on temples, and as yellow as alabaster around the mouth. Russian women of fashion closely followed their European peers. Furthermore, in the countryside, the attitude towards complexion ended up rather simple. Flour, antimony and beetroot completely satisfied inquiries made of rural Russian young ladies. In the 19th century, Prosper Mérimée wrote: “For a woman to be beautiful, they say in Spain, she must fulfil thirty ifs, or, if it pleases you better, you must be able to define her appearance by ten adjectives, applicable to three portions of her person. For instance, three things about her must be black: her eyes, her eyelashes, and her eyebrows” (Mérimée 2006).

There are the four well-known Great Beauties in Chinese history: Xī Shī 西施 (VII-VI BC, Spring and Autumn Period), who could cause fish to

Maria Rukodelnikova


sink, Wáng Zhāojūn 王昭君 (1st century BC, Western Han Dynasty), whose beauty enticed birds to fall from the sky, Diāochán 貂嬋 (3rd century, Late Eastern Han, Three Kingdoms Period), who eclipsed the moon and Yáng Guìfēi 杨 贵 妃 (719–756, Tang Dynasty), who laid flowers to shame. The appearance of these Great Beauties completely conforms to the Chinese concepts of perfect female beauty: they had round faces («like the moon»), small noses, bright lips, elegant and slender figures. We can portray a Chinese girl or young woman who practically did not change throughout many centuries through to the middle of the 20th century. A dense layer of rice powder applied on the face, bright blush on the cheeks, the bright scarlet lips sharply contrasting with white teeth, the eyebrows highlighted by antimony, the bluish-black hair arranged in an updo or plaited and decorated by multi-coloured ribbons and flowers. Russian writer Nikolai Garin-Mikhailovsky (1852-1906) left the following description of late 19th century Chinese women: “There are a lot of them [Chinese women] and all of them are as alike as two peas; whitened, made up, with an intricate black hairdo, shining and rigid as horse manes, all of them dressed in bright, expensive looking long clothes” (Garin 1950, 473)

What did classical Chinese beautiful woman look like? The noble ladies shaved their hair off on the forehead so as to lengthen the oval of the face (just as European ladies did), they accentuated their lips by circularly applying cherry-coloured lipstick. In order to attain elegance, women from high society covered their faces with powdered rice and blusher. Thus, they displayed a porcelain skin, almond-eyed face, black eyes and small feet and had slender bodies, thin and long fingers and soft palms. The traditional image of beauty has been changed quite significantly by contemporarily well-known Chinese film actresses. Modern Chinese beauties are very similar to the classical image: pale face, high forehead, small ears, thin eyebrows and small, rounded mouths. Nevertheless, by looking at a photo of Zhāng Zǐyí 章子怡, the well-known movie actress (featuring in the movies “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (2000), “House of Flying Daggers” (2004), “Memoirs of a Geisha” (2005) etcetera), we now find natural beauty is more popular all over the multicultural world.


Colour and the Emotional Estimation of Female Appearances in Chinese

Colour and female appearance in Chinese In Chinese, the word yánsè 颜色 “colour” etymologically relates to the concept of facial expression. The meaning of the word yánsè 颜色 consists of two words: yán 颜 “face” and sè 色 “colour”. The word sè 色 is often used in Chinese colour terms, for example: hóngsè 红色 “red”, huángsè 黄 色 “yellow”, hēisè 黑色 “black”, etcetera. Colour helps to identify not only the object’s attractiveness but also its emotional state. Shuōwén Jiězì 说文解字 ("Explaining simple and analyzing compound characters") – the early Chinese dictionary from the Han Dynasty compiled in the 2nd century BC, the first Chinese dictionary where the complex structure of the characters and sometimes the etymology of them were analysed – refers the word yán 颜 to the space between the eyebrows, and sè 色 is explained as the qì 气 “energy” here. The famous scholar Duan Yucai in his comments on this Dictionary wrote: “Everything – shame and regrets, joys and cares – are called “yánsè” 颜 色 (complexion) because “heart (mood)” reaches qì 气 “energy”, and qì 气 reaches the eyebrows”. It thus becomes obvious that yánsè 颜色 originally related exclusively to facial colour and not to an abstract colour. Only during the Tang dynasty (618-907) did the wordcombination yánsè 颜色 obtain the general meaning of “colour”. Let us consider whether there is any correlation between the colour oppositions and other oppositions in evaluating the appearance of Chinese women. Our research reveals expected colour oppositions relevant to the concepts “attractive – unattractive” (bright – dark, multicoloured – colourless etcetera). However, our examples also revealed some unexpected results. Multicoloured is considered beautiful for Chinese women: a pretty face in Chinese is “filled with colours” mǎn liǎn chūnsè 满脸春色 (whole + face + spring + colour); they say chūsè 出色 (out + colour) about a “wonderful, outstanding person”; the complex word juésè 绝色 (absolutely + colour) means “unprecedentedly beautiful woman”. On the contrary, a ghastly face is colourless: wǔ sè wú zhǔ 五色无主 (five colours + have no owner), a livid person is miàn wú rénsè 面无人色 (face+ without + human+ colour). As in many cultures around the world, pale skin indicates beauty and nobility in China. Beauty is supposed to feature pale and even skin, without any moles or birthmarks and as “blameless and pure as white jade” báibì wúxiá 白璧无瑕 (white jade + flawless).

Maria Rukodelnikova


However, not only does dark skin hold negative associations, the colour white is the symbol of mourning in China so this colour may also indicate something unpleasant. “Black eyes” hēi yǎn zhū 黑眼珠 (black + eye + pearl) are unconditionally beautiful to the Chinese but one who only looks awry has “white eyes” bái yǎn 白眼. In Russian youthfulness is identified by connotations of green: zelënyj junec «зелёный юнец» “callow youth” (green + youngster); unripe grapes are green. However, inexperienced young people in Chinese are bái miàn shūshēng 白面书生 (white + face + intellectual). The colours of Beijing Opera’s facial makeup are replete with symbolism. For example, the face of a beautiful young woman – a dān 旦 (“scale-beam”) character – is light pink (look at photos of Méi Lánfāng 梅 兰芳, one of the world-renowned Beijing Opera performers of dān 旦). White facial makeup indicates a negative character; a white spot on the face (person “with a piece of doufu on the nose”) indicates slyness, flattery and meanness. Colours reflect the nature of the opera character: hóng 红 “red” symbolizes the honesty and faithfulness of the person; hēi 黑“black” on the face indicates strength and courage; qīng 青 “blue and green” means cruelty and obstinacy. Red in Chinese culture is traditionally associated with beauty and happiness: miànsè hóngrùn 面色红润 “ruddy face”; hóng fěn zhījǐ 红粉知 己 “favourite” (red + powder + close friend). Colour excess, however, arouses negative emotions: hóng liǎn 红脸 “red face” conveys an angry or extremely confused person. Yellow facial skin colour is traditionally deployed for describing sickliness: làhuáng 蜡黄 “wax-white” (wax + yellow), miàn huáng jī shòu 面黄肌瘦 “emaciated” (yellow + face + muscle + skinny); huáng liăn pó 黄脸婆 “crone” (yellow + face + old woman). Yellow in the Chinese tradition is also associated with the colour of the earth. A yellow complexion may indicate fear or anger: miàn rúlù sè 面如 路色 (face + as + road + colour), a sallow complexion may be conveyed as rútǔde miànsè 如土的面色 (earthy colour + complexion). However, yellow can also have some positive associations, for example: huáng huā nǚér 黄花女儿 “young girl” (yellow + flower + daughter); máo yātou 毛丫头 “young girl” (yellow-small + girl servant). Colour may express emotional estimations. For example, huā róng yuè mào 花容月貌, “beautiful as the moon and flowers”, chū sè 出色 (out + colour) “wonderful, outstanding person”, jué sè 绝色 (absolutely + colour) “unprecedentedly beautiful woman”, báibì wúxiá 白璧无瑕 (white jade+


Colour and the Emotional Estimation of Female Appearances in Chinese

flawless) “blameless, pure” (about skin), hóng nán lǜ nǚ 红男绿女 (red man + green woman) “well-dressed, motley crowd”. Metaphors surround us in everyday life and sometimes changing along with the preferences of the respective society. However, colour-word metaphors underlie people’s linguistic picture of the world, they help us to understand the culture and traditions of other nations. The usage of colour terms in emotional estimation reveals how there are some colour stereotypes in the Chinese linguistic worldview that prove relevant to the national canons of female beauty.

References Bogushevskaya, Victoria. 2008. The semantics of colour terms in Chinese: universal and regional characteristics (unpublished doctoral thesis, in Russian), Moscow State University. Brent Berlin, and Paul Kay. 1991. Basic Colour Terms: Their Universality and Evolution. Stanford: CSLI (Second edition). Garin, Nikolai. 1950. From Travel Notes (Around Korea, Manchuria and the Liaodong Peninsula) (in Russian). Moscow: Geografizdat. Malyavin, Vladimir. 2000. Chinese Civilization (in Russian). Moscow: Astrel. Mérimée, Prosper. 2006. Carmen. The Project Gutenberg EBook of Carmen, by Prosper Merimee. Translated by Lady Mary Loyd. Wan, Lanxiaoxuan. 2010. Russian nominative units with the cultural component in the textbook (from a Chinese perspective) (unpublished doctoral thesis, in Russian), the Pushkin State Russian Language Institute, Moscow. Whorf, Benjamin Lee. 1956. “Language Mind and Reality.” In Language, Thought and Reality: Selected Writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf, edited by John B. Carroll. MIT Press, 246-270. Wierzbicka, Anna. 1996. Semantics: Primes and Universals. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Xiàndài hànyŭ cídiăn 现代汉语词典 (Dictionary of Modern Chinese). 2007. Beijing: Shangwu Press. Tóngyící cílín 同义词词林 (Forest of Words). 1983. Shanghai: Shanghai Cishu Press. Éhàn dāpèi cídiăn 俄 汉 搭 配 词 典 (Russian-Chinese Dictionary Collocations). 2003. Beijing: Shangwu Press. Dà Éhàn cídiăn 大俄汉词典 (Big Russian-Chinese Dictionary). 1985. Beijing: Shangwu Press.

Maria Rukodelnikova


Universal on-line Encyclopaedia Krugosvet. “Ethnolinguistics”. Accessed March 2, 2012. NGVISTIKA.html



Introduction Physiologically, a typical healthy human eye is able to distinguish and perceive de facto anywhere between twenty thousand (Luizov 1989) and ten million (Judd and Wyszecki 1975) colours. However, languages differ greatly in the way in which the gamut of colours is partitioned into lexical categories. For instance, French has no equivalent of the English brown; it needs to be translated either with brun or with marron or even sometimes with jaune—which we usually think of as meaning ‘yellow’—depending on the shade it refers to and the range of objects it applies to (Lyons 1995, 90). An English speaker would use the word blue, while a Russian speaker would split it into two distinct basic colour terms (BCT),1 sinij (синий) and goluboj (голубой) specifying dark and light blue respectively and considering them separate colours. Ndembu, one of the languages of the Congo region, possesses primary terms only for three colours: white, red and black; terms for other colours are either derivatives or consist of descriptive and metaphorical phrases, as in the case of ‘green’, which gets expressed as the ‘water of sweet potato leaves’. Colours which we would distinguish from white, red and black are, in Ndembu, linguistically identified with them. Blue cloth, for example, is described as black cloth, and yellow or orange objects are lumped together as ‘red’ (Turner 1967, 60). Moreover, in some societies, there is no word corresponding to the English ‘colour’ and their languages do not contain any abstract colour terms (CT) at all. They might instead use equine CT, as per Shelta, a language spoken by Irish nomadic people (Mikhailova 1994), or cattle CT, as the Mursi (Ethiopian transhumant cattle herders) do (Turton 1980). In 1

A basic colour term (BCT) is a colour term denoting one of the most salient colour concepts in a society.

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other words, each language, from the point of view of another language, may be arbitrary in classifying colours; what becomes expressed by a single colour word in one language may be characterised by a series of colour words in another. A BCT may be simple, representing a single hue 2 or a single fundamental category (e.g. English red for RED3), or it may be composite, also known as an extended or macro-colour term, representing the union of two or more fundamental categories.4 The phenomenon of composite CTs is explained by peculiarities in the internal structures of relevant languages and by the unique cultural characteristics of the respective societies. However, it is not that ethnolinguistic communities using a macro-colour category cannot visually distinguish between the two or more hues, “they just regard them as two varieties of the same colour, as one merges into the other and the community find no compelling reason to regard them as fundamentally different” (Biggam 2012, 61–62). Several types of macro-categories known in languages are denoted by only one BCT: ‘warm-light’ and ‘dark-cool’, as in the case of the Dugum Dani of Indonesian New Guinea (see Berlin and Kay 1969, 46–47); or a separate YELLOW + GREEN category, widely used among languages in the Pacific Northwest (MacLaury 1987, 107); or have no boundary between GREEN and BLUE. The latter macro-category is often called grue, a modern construct out of the English for green and blue. Macro-categories are often multiply focused.5 Focal grue selections have often proved to be bimodal, chosen from both the focal blue and focal green regions, but grue has never been found to be focused in the intermediate blue-green region (Kay and McDaniel 1978, 630). Its Chinese equivalent is qīng 青, which is expressed in the standard combinations qīng tiān 青天 ‘[blue] sky’ and qīng căo 青草 ‘[green] grass’. The grue category exists in some old and modern Semitic languages (Naumkin and Porkhomovsky 1981, 27), in Sanskrit (Normanskaya 2007, 49), in some Austronesian, Apachean, Aztec-Tanoan, Eskimo (Berlin and Kay 1969, 74–78), in Turkic (Kononov 1978, 172), in Celtic (Mikhailova 1994, 118), and even in some dialects of Italian (Kristol 1980, 143). 2

Hue is the chromatic element to colours such as red, green and blue. SMALL CAPITALS hereinafter indicate colour concepts or categories. 4 The full classification also includes the third type, the so-called derived terms, representing the mixture of two fundamental categories (e.g. English pink for RED + WHITE or brown for BLACK + YELLOW) (Kay and McDaniel 1978, 633). 5 Focus (focal colour) is the area of a colour which is considered the best and most typical example of that colour. 3


GRUE in Chinese

Green I deploy three different kinds of evidence in favour of the fact that qīng primarily stood for GREEN. First, is the etymological analysis of the character per se, written in Old Chinese as (HDZD, 4046). Yuē Zhāi explains that the lower part of the character is a drawing of a well-shaft constructed for obtaining a mineral pigment, which is expressed by a dot in the middle, while the upper part represents a plant (Yuē 1986, 121). Needham, quoting Kalgren, says that this depicts a plant of some kind, very possibly indigo 6 with its juice being collected in a pan (Needham 1974, 157–158). Thus, we have the syssemantic-category (Chin. huìyì 会 意 ) 7 character that expresses the idea of a pigment (of biological or mineral origin), which has the colour of plants. Yuē Zhāi believes that qīng meant shíqīng 石青, ‘stone qīng’ (Yuē 1986, 121), that is, the azurite mineral. Xú Cháohuá hypothesises that qīng primarily denotes not just azurite alone, but the aggregate of two minerals: azurite and malachite (Xú 1988, 33). The second piece of evidence stems from the phonological reconstruction of qīng by William Baxter, who points out that qīng was once very close to the lexeme shēng 生 ‘live, bear, be born, produce, fresh’ phonologically, morphologically, and almost surely etymologically. Moreover, he compares qīng with the Tibeto-Burman root *sriŋ ‘live, alive, green, raw’ (Baxter 1983, 16–17). The fact that the Tibeto-Burman cognate also means ‘green’ in some languages makes it quite plausible that a similar semantic development of English green and grass and of German grün and gras from the same Old German root *gro- ‘grow’ is quite parallel.


As is commonly known, China is the birthplace of sericulture. The earliest excavated silk is a group of ribbons, threads and woven fragments dyed red, dated to 3000 BC (Ye et al. 2000, 246). The dominant materials used for textile dyeing were plant dyes. Chinese literary sources state that indigo was one of the oldest dyes, known as early as during the legendary Xià 夏 Dynasty (ca. 21st–ca. 16th cent. BC) and mainly obtained from the indigo plant Polygonum tinctorium (Chin. liăolán 蓼藍) (Xú 1988, 35). 7 Lit. ‘joint meanings’; a type of Chinese characters whose meaning is indicated by the combined meanings of their constituent parts. Also known as associative. For more on this category, see Behr’s (2006) critique of Boltz’s view (1994, 147-149).

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The third basis of evidence is of archaeological origin. Chêng Tê-k’un studied a group of fifteen vessels t’u-lu, colour-containers assigned to the Late Shāng 商–Western Zhōu 周 period (ca. 1300–771 BC). 8 Most of these containers are made of bronze (some of pottery, one jade and three marble). They vary from cuboid to round and triangular in shape. Each of them has three to five tubular receptacles for the pigments and a hole in the centre for a mixing saucer. In five out of these fifteen containers (four made of bronze and one made of pottery), pigment residues deposits were found in the bottom of the tubes, and these have been identified as white, black, red, green and yellow powders with none of them containing blue pigment. The contents from one of them underwent spectroscopic analysis, and the green substance was identified as a copper compound; a pigment derivable from a number of materials such as malachite (Chêng 1965, 244). This fact proves that the Shāng people did know of the existence of a green (but not yet a blue) pigment; furthermore, this also makes qīng, originally denoting the aggregate of azurite and malachite, quite plausible as both are basic copper carbonates, the sources of copper. Except for its vibrant green colour, the chemical formula of malachite is similar to that of azurite. Azurite is found in shades of deep, intense blue and is less abundant in nature than malachite. Both minerals frequently occur together, to the extent that the name azur-malachite has been used for intimate combinations (O’Donoghue 2006, 387, 426). Geologically, azurite is the parent and malachite a weathered form of the original blue deposit (Bergslien 2012, 302). However, azurite is less stable, and if hydrated or exposed to a moist atmosphere, gradually gets converted to malachite. Coarsely ground azurite produces dark blue, while the finely ground pigment is pale and weak and has a greenish undertone (see Ward 2008, 503). Archaeological discoveries in the final third of the past century confirmed that the beginning of China’s Bronze Age can be traced back to the third millennium BC (Kravcova 2004, 95). By the Late Shāng era (ca. 1300–1046 BC), the Bronze Age culture was spread widely over northern, central and eastern China. Bronze manufacturing technology requires mining of copper and tin deposits, and malachite was most probably the principal source of copper. Repeatedly reported findings of malachite—the largest single piece weighed 18.8 kg (Xuē 2001, 103)—in ancient copper mines at Yīnxū 殷墟, an ancient capital of Shāng, prove that the Shāng people were familiar with natural deposits of this copper ore. Interestingly,


The name ‘t’u-lu’ was taken from an inscription on one of the containers.


GRUE in Chinese

the term for bronze in Modern Standard Mandarin (MSM)9 is qīngtóng 青 銅 (qīng + copper): ‘grue copper’. Both malachite and azurite appear in Old, Middle and Modern Chinese texts under several names in which qīng is always a root morpheme: Malachite: • kōngqīng 空青 = hollow + qīng (nodular grue) in Jì Ní-zĭ 《計倪 子》 (4th cent. BC), Shénnóng bĕncăo jīng《神農本草經》 (2nd– 1st cent. BC), Shí Yào Ěryă 《石葯爾雅》 (806 AD), Bĕncăo gāngmù 《本曹綱目》 (1596), Sāncái Túhuì《三才圖會》(1609); • zēngqīng 曾青 = augment + qīng (laminar grue) in Jì Ní-zĭ, Shénnóng bĕncăo jīng, Shí Yào Ěryă, Bĕncăo gāngmù, Sāncái Túhuì; • lǜqīng 綠青 = MSM BCT for GREEN + qīng in Shénnóng bĕncăo jīng, Shí Yào Ěrya.10 In Modern Chinese, malachite is mostly called tóng lǜ 銅綠 (copper + BCT for GREEN) or shílǜ 石綠 (stone + BCT for GREEN), as in Bĕncăo gāngmù (1596); in MSM the term for malachite is kŏngquèshí 孔雀石: ‘peacock stone’. Azurite: • báiqīng 白青= MSM BCT for WHITE + qīng (pale grue) in: Shān Hăi Jīng 《山海經》 (8th–1st cent. BC), Shénnóng bĕncăo jīng, Shí Yào Ěryă, Bĕncăo gāngmù; • fūqīng 膚青 = superficial + qīng in: Jì Ní-zĭ, Míng Yī Bié Lù 《名醫 別錄》 and Bĕncăo jīngjí zhù 《本草集注》 (495 AD); • biănqīng 扁青 = flat + qīng in: Shénnóng bĕncăo jīng, Sāncái Túhuì. In Modern Chinese, azurite is often denoted as shíqīng 石青 (stone + qīng), while the MSM term for it is lántóngkuàng 藍銅礦 (BCT for BLUE + copper ore) or lán kŏngquèshí 藍孔雀石 (BCT for BLUE + peacock stone) meaning ‘blue malachite’. 9

Modern Standard Mandarin refers to contemporary Chinese (from the 20th century onwards); Old Chinese: 11th cent. BC–1st cent. AD; Modern Chinese: 12th–20th centuries. 10 For more references to Old and Middle Chinese texts, please consult table 95 in Needham’s volume (1974).

Victoria Bogushevskaya


Although the green pigment was known in ancient China and the form of the character qīng is found in Shāng oracle bone inscriptions (Chin. jiăgŭwén 甲骨文),11 it was never applied as a CT (Wang 1996, 100). As for early bronze inscriptions (Chin. jīnwén 金文), the Hànyǔ Dà Zìdiǎn (HDZD) provides a form of this character (4046) written in the inscription of the lid of Wú fāng yí 吳方彝, a ritual vessel dated 898 BC, but qīng is used here as a name. Another example we found from early bronze inscriptions is on the Pú hé 匍盉 pot, a relatively recently discovered object, assigned to the later period of the reign of King Mu 穆王 (c. 956– 918 BC) (Lĭ 1999, 66), where qīng is clearly a name and most probably also a toponym (see Wáng 2007, 405–408), and need not have been a CT. In the inscription of the Shĭ Qiáng pán 史牆盤, a bronze basin from the King Gong 共王/恭王 (c. 917/15–900 BC) period we read: “qīng yōu gāo zŭ 青幽高祖”, where many scholars have read the qīng as a loan character for jìng 静 ‘silent’, and translated the phrase as “the silent and secluded ancestors” (see Lĭ 1978, 153; Táng 1978, 22; Pān 2006, 43) and expressed praise (Qiú 1978, 32). Wang Tao, instead, suggests that qīng 青, used together with yōu 幽, is best understood as the extended meaning of the CT ‘dark-green’, referring to the sky or heaven where the ancestors lived (Wang 1996, 100). The word occurs only once in the Shūjīng 《書經》,12 in the Yŭ gòng 《禹贡》section, which is agreed to be quite late (Baxter 1983, 17). The application of qīng 青 in the Shījīng 《詩經》 13 is fairly complicated. While clearly endowed with the meaning ‘green’ when describing the colour of bamboo and leaves, it seems to have the meaning ‘green or blue’ in four places: applied to a collar (ode 91.1), girdle-gems (91.2), earplugs of an uncertain material, probably silk (98.2) and flies (219.1, 2, 3). However, another meaning is ‘luxuriant’, where commentators say it should be read as jīng and also written slightly differently: 菁. Most probably, the character qīng 青 originally represented the word later written as jīng 菁 (Baxter 1983, 17–18). As qīng was a cognate of shēng 生 , its original meaning might be something like ‘flourishing, 11

Oracle bone inscriptions from the Shāng period (ca. 16th cent.–1046 BC) comprise the earliest Chinese collection of graphs indisputably regarded as a fully developed writing system. These divinatory inscriptions were carved primarily on the scapulae of oxen or sheep and on turtle shells (Boltz 1994, 31). 12 The Classic of documents is a collection of speeches made by rulers and important politicians from mythical times to the middle of the Western Zhōu (1046–771 BC) period. 13 The Book of Odes, the oldest collection of Chinese poetry dating ca.800–500 BC.


GRUE in Chinese

verdant’. Later on, due to the split of polysemy, jīng 菁 became subtle in this meaning (and the graphic form became slightly complicated by adding the ‘grass’ radical on top as an additional semantic element), while qīng became a colour term. Qīng 青 is so used in odes 55.2 and 233.2; the form jīng 菁 is found in odes 119.2 and 176.1–3. Nevertheless, the puzzle over the usage of jīng in the Shījīng does not clarify the meaning of qīng in the above four instances. As regards the definitions of qīng by classical dictionaries, the Shìmíng 《釋名》14 glosses it as shēng 生 ‘live, produce, fresh’ (《釋名·釋采帛》, quoted from HDZD, 4046), cited earlier. The Shuōwén jiĕzì 《說文解字》 15 defines it as a ‘colour of the east’, i.e. in accordance with the five-agent theory, 16 and that the whole character expresses the idea of “wood generating fire”, where the upper part stands for mù 木 wood, the agent of the east, while the lower part represents dān 丹 cinnabar, 17 which is naturally red, just like fire, the agent of the south.18 Therefore, in addition to being syssemantic, qīng also appears to belong to the phonosemantic (Chin. xíngshēng 形 声 ) 19 category, where dān 丹 is the semantic determiner and shēng 生 is the morphonological constituent.

Blue When used in the context of sky, qīng is interchangeable with cāng 苍, another term for GRUE, phonologically very close to qīng, with the 14

Lit. ‘Explaining Names’, a glossary dictionary compiled by Liú Xī 劉熙 at the end of the Eastern Hàn 漢 Dynasty (25–220 AD). 15 Lit. ‘Explaining simple and analysing compound [characters]’, one of the most important etymological dictionaries of ancient China, completed in 100 AD by Xŭ Shèn 許慎. 16 The ancient wŭ xíng 五行 theory of “five agents” (five elements) assumed complex and cosmic interrelationships among the five agents (metal, wood, fire, water and earth), the five directions, the five colours, the five seasons, the five internal organs of the body, the five notes on the musical scale, etcetera. 17 The etymology of dān 丹 ‘cinnabar’, in turn, usually gets explained as a drawing of a lump of mineral in a crucible or a mineral powder on a stretched filter cloth (Needham 1974, 157). 18 Shuōwén 10, 青部, 684. 19 Lit. ‘form and sound’; this type of character consists of a semantic determiner broadly indicating the meaning of a character (also known as radical) and a morphonological constituent (also known as phonetic). For a more detailed explanation of the xíngshēng category, please refer to Behr (2010, 293–294).

Victoria Bogushevskaya


difference of a main vowel only (Baxter 1983, 10). Even though the Shuōwén jiĕzì glosses it as the ‘colour of grass’,20 in twelve cases out of the fifteen instances in the Shījīng, it serves to describe the sky’s colour; in two of the remaining instances, it is applied to reeds and rushes (ode 129.1) before finally a fly (ode 96.1). Qīng and cāng are also used interchangeably for describing the colour of the sky in later texts such as the Lĭjì 《禮記》 21 and the Zhuāngzĭ 《莊子》. 22 We may therefore relatively safely assert that cāng was a referential synonym of qīng, as firstly, the colour of grass was often described as qīng, and secondly, although not totally identical in usage, qīng and cāng were exchangeable in many contexts. I furthermore intend to devote a separate paper to cāng and other synonyms of qīng. However, we first see the meaning of ‘blue’ in this lexeme in the following passage from the Xúnzĭ 《荀子》:23 “Qīng qŭ zhī yú lán ér qīng yú lán 青取之於藍而青於藍” (《荀子·勸學》, quoted from HDZD, 4046). The Shuōwén jiĕzì glosses lán 藍—BCT for BLUE in MSM—as a ‘herb used for dyeing [things] qīng’,24 so the phrase becomes translated as “Qīng is obtained from the indigo plant, but is more qīng than the indigo plant”.25

Macro-black One of the characteristics of the Chinese grue is that it denotes not only cool primaries, but also extends into the macro-black area. The reason for this syncretism, according to Liú Yúnquán (1990), is the subjective factor. Liú refers to the Comments to the Lĭ Qì 禮器 section of the Lĭjì 《禮記》 by Zhèng Xuán 鄭玄 (a famous scholar in the Eastern Hàn 漢 Dynasty, 25–220 AD) and the further explanation by Kŏng Yĭngdá 孔穎 達 (a scholar of the Táng 唐 Dynasty, 618–907 AD). Both comments are devoted to the famous historical incident described in the Shĭ jì 《史 記》.26 Qín Èrshì 秦二世27 had a chancellor Zhào Gāo 趙高 who one day 20

Shuōwén 2, 屮部, 124. The Book of Rites, an encyclopaedia of ritual matters written during the late Warring States 戰國 (475–221 BC) and Western Hàn 漢 (206 BC–8 AD) periods. 22 The Daoist book ascribed to Zhuāng Zhōu 莊周 (trad. 369–286 BC). 23 The Confucian treatise written by Xún Kuàng 荀况 (trad. 313–238 BC). 24 Shuōwén 2, 屮部, 72. 25 Fig. ‘The student becomes better than the teacher’. 26 Historical Records, a famous universal history of Early China written by Sīmă 21


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decided to rebel, but was unsure whether the ministers would follow him in this action. Thus he first set a test: he brought a deer and presented it to Qín Èrshì calling it a horse. Qín Èrshì laughed and said: “You must be wrong to call a deer a horse!”28 Then the emperor questioned those around him. Some remained silent, while some, hoping to ingratiate themselves with Zhào Gāo, said it was a horse, and others said it was a deer. “He [Zhào Gāo] also called qīng 青 black (hēi 黑), and black (hēi 黑) yellow (huáng 黄), as in the case with a deer and a horse” (Liú 1990, 39). The end of the story was that Zhào Gāo secretly arranged for all those who said it was a deer to be brought before the law. Thereafter, the ministers were all afraid of Zhào Gāo and became obedient to him. Hence, the meaning ‘black’ of the CT qīng 青 is nothing more than the despotism of Chancellor Zhào Gāo. The idea of forcing the lexeme qīng upon an artificial acquisition of the meaning ‘black’ does not look flawless. The story of a deer called a horse is indeed described in the Shĭ jì by Sīmă Qiān, but is limited to that.29 The historian does not say that Zhào Gāo ordered people to call qīng ‘black’ and to name ‘black’ as ‘yellow’, so it is unclear why Kŏng Yĭngdá refers to Sīmă Qiān. But what might cause this mismatch? This most likely stems from the fact that the parable was passed down orally and therefore varied in content. It is generally acknowledged that the creative activities of the Hàn historiographers and commentators inspired the formation of the quasi-history. The story of a deer called a horse was told to illustrate the lack of principles and cowardice of the emperor’s retinue (Vyatkin and Taskin 2003, 368). Commentators may feasibly have deployed qīng to mean ‘black’ as an additional fact testifying to the tyranny and substitution of notions in order to make the story more persuasive. The polysemy of qīng cannot be considered artificial or, moreover, imposed. Linguistic syncretism of the terms for green, blue and black colours is not only known in Chinese. The same phenomenon exists in the African Shona language, where the term citema covers not only most blues and some bluish greens, but also black (Gleason 1961, 4); in Welsh, there is a CT glas, which can refer to blue, but also to certain shades of green and grey (Biggam 2012, 10–11). In Old Russian scripts of the 11th–12th Qiān 司馬遷 (completed ca. 90 BC, during the Western Hàn Dynasty). 27 Lit. ‘Second Emperor of the Qín 秦 Dynasty’ (personal name Húhài 胡亥), who reigned from 210 to 207 BC. 28 From this incident derived a famous idiom: ‘calling a deer a horse’ (Chin. zhǐ lù wéi mǎ 指鹿為馬), meaning ‘deliberately misrepresent’. 29 See, for example, Vyatkin and Taskin 2003, 94–95.

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centuries, the term for dark-blue sinij was also polysemous and in some texts took on the meaning ‘dark’ and even ‘black’, e.g. sinij kak saža ‘as sinij as soot’; and sinec (from the same root *sin’), a euphemism for the Devil because of his dark appearance (see Baxilina 1975, 176–178). Already in the late 1880s, Geiger insisted that etymologically many terms for blue originally signified green and that an even larger proportion signified black (Berlin and Kay, 136). As for the explanation of the polysemy of qīng by Chinese linguists, they refer to no practical need for its splitting, because “black is au fond present in indigo; on the other hand, black somehow becomes streaked with green or blue” (Zhāng 1991, 72).

Why is qīng polysemous? As we see, the Chinese sources either avoid the etymological problem of the ‘black’ or ‘dark’ meaning of this lexeme, or suggest the only and quite an unpersuasive explanation: some kind of despotism of Qín’s chancellor Zhào Gāo. However, the unavoidable question is: why does Sīmă Qiān tell the parable about a deer and a horse and not mention the colour substitute? And even if such a substitution occurred, then why did qīng keep the meaning ‘black’, whereas the substitution of hēi ‘black’ with ‘yellow’ did not remain? It is quite possible that the meaning of this wordplay—if, of course, it happened at all—was specifically intriguing to accompany the preparation of the revolt led by Zhào Gāo, who was, incidentally, very educated and intelligent, who participated in the script stabilisation movement and the design of the small seal script (Chin. xiǎozhuàn 小 篆 ) during the reign of Qín Shĭhuáng 秦 始 皇 . 30 This wordplay most probably served as some code or slogan understandable only by trusted co-conspirators. However, rather than this historical puzzle, what might be the linguistic reasons for the acquisition of the meaning ‘black’ by the lexeme qīng? I would propose here the following two explanations: 1) qīng 青 was primarily applied to denote DARK/BLACK only in a certain dialect area during the Warring States Period, while the meaning ‘grue’ was a lexical norm of the standard language during that same period. The political unification of the empire in 221 BC 30 Lit. ‘First Emperor of Qín 秦 Dynasty’, the founder of the Qín Dynasty (221– 207 BC) who unified China in 221 BC after the long-lasting Warring States Period (475–221 BC).


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under the auspices of the Qín could favour the interference of some dialect meanings into the standard language; 2) the syncretism of qīng 青 has an intralinguistic origin. It seems plausible that at a certain stage in the development of the colour lexicon, it signified cool primaries (blue/green/black) with the hyper-meaning ‘dark’. At a later stage, the general meaning split but in some combinations reflexus of the previous unity remained. It is, however, quite difficult to define the time when this general meaning split happened. Chinese etymological dictionaries in the relevant entries illustrate it either by Kŏng Yĭngdá’s comments or by the rare usage by poets for describing the colour of hair and eyes. For example, in Lĭ Bái’s 李白 (701–762) poem we find qīngsī 青絲 ‘black silk’,31 in Dù Fŭ’s 杜甫 (712–770) there is qīngyăn 青眼 ‘black eyes’,32 and in Yàn Jĭdào’s 宴幾道 (c.1030–c.1106) it says liăng bìn qīng 兩鬂青 ‘the hair on his temples is black’.33 The first and third examples are metaphors, whereas the second one derives from the colloquial expression qīngbáiyăn 青白眼 (qīng + white + eye). This expression is said to have originated with the poet Ruăn Jí 阮籍 (210–263 AD) (Zhāng 1991, 70), a member of a coterie of eccentric intellectuals referred to as the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove (Chin. Zhúlín Qī Xiàn 竹林七賢). As the Jìn shū 《晉書》34 relates, Ruăn Jí revealed his mood by purposefully making his eyes “white” or “black” (Xú 1988, 36), i.e. he would look people whom he liked directly in the eyes, letting them see the pupils of his eyes; however, upon encountering someone who displeased him, he would flash a glance towards the sky, exposing the whites of his eyes to express his displeasure. From qīngbáiyăn 青白眼 (qīng + white + eye) evolved the synonymous qīngyăn 青眼 (qīng + eye), qīnglài 青睐 (qīng + glance) and qīngmóu 青 眸 (qīng + eye pupil), meaning ‘looking straight in someone’s eyes’, and chuíqīng 垂青 (care + qīng), meaning ‘showing appreciation for someone, looking upon someone with favour’. All these expressions signify approval, pleasure, benevolence, consideration and respect, whereas báiyăn 白眼 (white + eye) ‘looking askance [showing the whites of one’s eyes]’ is a gesture of contempt, disdain, disapproval or anger. According 31

Táng Shī Sānbăi Shŏu, 122 (《將進酒》). 《短歌行》, quoted from Xú 1988, 36. 33 Sòng Cí Sānbăi Shŏu, 54 (《生查子》). 34 The Book of Jìn, an official historical text covering the history of the Jìn 晉 Dynasty from 265 AD to 420 AD (compiled in 648 during the Táng 唐 Dynasty). 32

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to Zhāng Qīngcháng, “since Ruăn Jí was neither blue-eyed, nor green-eyed, qīng in this case clearly signifies black” (Zhāng 1991, 70). Instead of being that categorical about the colour of Ruăn Jí’s eyes, I would rather suggest that qīngyăn 青眼 (‘qīng eyes’) – báiyăn 白眼 (‘white eyes’) implies the opposite ‘presence – absence of pupils in the centre of the eyes’; yet qīng should be translated as ‘dark’ (not ‘black’) when it describes the colour of the eyes. As for the metaphor qīngsī 青絲 the ‘black silk’, used by Lĭ Bái for the description of hair,35 is not accidental. Since the Hàn Dynasty (206 BC– 220 AD) the meaning ‘black’/’dark’ of the lexeme qīng has been used for the description of blue-black dyed textiles (Xú 1988, 39). This is probably related to the use of azurite, shíqīng 石 青 ‘stone qīng’, the mineral mentioned earlier. The dye extracted from azurite can have different shades, up to the very deep, almost black blue. It seems plausible that the binominal qīngyī 青衣 (lit. ‘dark clothing’) is derived from the denotation of azurite. This is also confirmed by the fact that when L.P. Syčëv and V.L. Syčëv describe the clothing of Hóng Lóu Mèng’s 《紅樓夢》 36 main character, young nobleman Jiă Băoyù 賈寶玉, they refer to the Qiánlóng 乾隆 emperor’s 1759 edict37 which assigned wearing the jacket guà (褂) over the robe páo (袍) as an essential part of official formal clothing, and the jacket guà must be exclusively of the deep blue shíqīng 石青 (as an analogy of the mineral’s name the fabric was dyed with) colour (Syčëv and Syčëv 1975, 87). There might be another explanation for the metaphorisation of the binominal qīngsī 青絲 ‘black silk’, which is due to its meaning ‘hair in youth’, where qīng means ‘young’, and in this case we deal with the connotative meaning of this CT. In this respect, it is interesting to see the synonymy of qīng—exclusively when it describes the colour of the hair— with lǜ 綠, a BCT for GREEN in MSM. In MSM, this meaning remains in the bookish binominals such as lǜyún 綠云 ‘dark/black clouds’ (fig. about hair of a beauty) and lǜbìn 綠鬓 ‘black hair on the temples’. Since green is the colour of spring and youth, someone’s hair in his/her young years is 35

Fig. about the silky hair of a beauty. Dream of the Red Chamber, written by Cáo Xuěqín 曹雪芹 (1715–1763) and generally considered the greatest of all Chinese novels. 37 They mean a massive work entitled Huángcháo lĭqĭ túshì《皇朝禮器圖式》 Illustrated Precedents for the Ritual Paraphernalia of the Imperial Court, which provided a comprehensive, illustrated inventory of all court items, including the strict codes of dress required of court officials. 36


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described symbolically via qīng 青 or lǜ 綠. The polysemy of qīng also spreads the derived lexemes with qīng as a semantic determiner: tiān = 靝 = 天: ‘sky in Daoist texts’ (HDZD, 4049); sè : ‘reddish-blue’ (chìqīng 赤青, red + qīng) (HDZD, 4049); hù : ‘pigment similar to azurite’ (shíqīng 石青) (HDZD, 4049); chēng = 靗 = 竀: ‘straight look in someone’s eyes’ (HDZD, 4047) (cf. mentioned above qīnglài 青睐, qīngmóu 青眸, qīngyăn 青眼).

How to translate expressions containing qīng For Chinese speakers, the polysemy of qīng 青 does not create any confusion, as usually they do not question what colour it means in one or another word combination. To foreigners, they recommend memorising the metaphorical expressions containing this lexeme. In this respect, the following hints may be suggested: 1. When it describes objects pigmented by nature, qīng 青 indicates GREEN (qīngwā 青蛙 ‘frog’, qīngtāi 青苔 ‘moss’, qīng jiāo 青 椒 ‘green pepper’, dòu qīng 豆青 ‘pea green [colour]’), except for: a) the colour of the sky and the colour of the skin (because of cold, anger, fear or vascular collapse), where it indicates BLUE: • qīng xiāo 青霄 = qīng míng 青冥: ‘blue sky’; qīng tiān 青天: ‘blue sky’ → ‘clear sky’ (semantic extension) → fig. about justice or upright and honourable official, “who sees things clearly, without any mist or fog” (Xú 1988, 36); • qīng yún 青雲 (qīng + cloud): ‘clear sky’, ‘high altitude [reaching the clouds]’ (from the Hàn Dynasty onwards) → fig. ‘great official career or literary rank’; • qīngzhǒng 青肿 (qīng + swell): ‘bruise’; • miànqīng 面青 (face + qīng): ‘bluish (unhealthy) complexion’, liǎnsè qì dé fāqīng 脸色气得发青 ‘face turned blue with anger’. b) the colour of plumage and scales (of non-multicoloured species); in these cases it usually refers to DARK/GREY/GREYISH-BLACK: • qīngyú 青魚 (qīng + fish) = hēihuàn 黑鲩 (MSM BCT for BLACK + carp) : Mylopharyngodon piceus, black carp (Cíhăi, 3153, 3298); • qīngquè 青雀 (qīng + sparrow) = sānghù 桑扈: Eophona personata,

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Japanese Grosbeak, a finch grey in colour with a black head (Cíhăi, 3153, 1504). 2. When it describes artificially pigmented objects or dyed textiles, qīng may refer either to BLUE or to BLACK. The meaning depends on: a) the historical time frame, b) whether the text is written in báihuà (白話) or in wényán (文言), and c) in combination with which CT is applied: a) if the text is written in wényán, and qīng is used in opposition to chì 赤 ‘red’, hēi 黑 ‘black’, huáng 黄 ‘yellow’, bái 白 ‘white’ or other CTs of a different hue, then qīng indicates BLUE, whereas if it is accompanied by lán 藍—BCT for BLUE in MSM38—qīng usually denotes very dark shades of BLUE, bordering on BLACK; b) if the text is in báihuà, prior to the Yuán 元 (1279–1368)–Míng 明 (1368–1644) period, qīng always refers to BLUE, whereas, after the Ming Dynasty, it acquires the meaning ‘dark’/’black’. Cf. the meanings of qīng in the following etnoeidems:39 • qīngjīn 青衿: lit. ‘blue collars’, fig. about scholars and intellectuals, from the scholars’ dark-blue dress of classical times (already seen in the Shījīng); • qīngyī 青衣: ‘dark clothes’, but with some nuances: 1) from the end of the Eastern Hàn Dynasty to the Táng Dynasty, it referred to the robes of servants, which were made of coarse dark blue fabric (Zhāng 1991, 71); 2) from the Ming Dynasty on → fig. generic name for someone of humble status, regardless of clothing colour (which, however, was still made of coarse fabric and dyed either blue-black or black) (Xú 1988, 39); 3) also known as hēishān 黑衫 (MSM BCT for BLACK + robe) ‘black clothing’ in Chinese opera (Cíhăi, 3152), and refers to a role type for women, young or middle aged, who have been raised to behave within the social norm. The name of the role comes from a black robe that women in this role often wear when their fortunes have turned for the worse. The characters are empresses and noble women, filial daughters, faithful wives, or lovers in distress (Bonds 2008, 6). Depending on the social status of the character, a robe is made either of black silk or of coarse black fabric (Zhāng 1991, 71). 38

Originally denoting the indigo plant, it became the sky and water descriptive CT in Middle Chinese and is a BCT for BLUE in MSM (Bogushevskaya 2008). 39 Enoeidems are unique concepts of worldview manifested in a particular society; they often belong to implicit lacunas (see Belov 1988).


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It is interesting to note that the principle of ‘originally containing the pigment in se’ versus ‘painted over’ is also reflected in ceramics terminology: • qīngcí 青瓷 (qīng + ceramics): the class of ceramics widely known as celadon,40 but the more accurate term is greenware (glazed with a smooth grey-green appearance as a result of the iron within the glaze being fired in a reducing atmosphere) (Vainker 2007, 219). Some of these ceramics, however, hardly deserve being called green (some are bluish-green, some are greyish-green), but definitely not blue; • qīnghuā 青花 (qīng + flowers): lit. ‘blue flowers’, blue-and-white porcelain (also known as underglaze blue), the most admired type of Chinese ceramics, fully mastered during the Yuán Dynasty. The decoration was applied in cobalt-blue pigment directly to the ceramic body and then covered with transparent glaze (Rawson 2007, 368). Cobalt oxide was originally imported from Central or West Asian countries (Needham 1974, 157) and acquired the name huí huí qīng 回回青 ‘Mohamettan qīng’, i.e. ‘Muslim blue’. The drawing is free and bold, yet delicate, the blue varying from almost pure ultramarine to a dull, greyish colour with a tendency to clot and turn black where it runs thickest (Sullivan 2008, 225).

Conclusion In contemporary Chinese, qīng 青 is not a basic colour term; there are separate, psychologically salient terms for GREEN (lǜ 綠), BLUE (lán 藍) and BLACK (hēi 黑). However, qīng has not faded away; on the contrary, it still very much remains in use: it forms compound terms with other colour lexemes and also often deployed in its figurative meaning of ‘young’. Nevertheless, even native speakers are sometimes unable to define what colour qīng refers to in some contexts. Chinese linguists acknowledge that dictionaries are not always able to give thorough explanations (see Zhāng 1991, 71–72). To interpret its meaning, one has to rely heavily— and, in fact, exclusively—on when, within which historical time frame, where and under what circumstances this colour term is applied. 40

A European term derived from the name of the shepherdess wearing a dress of that colour in the seventeenth-century French novel L’Astrée by Honoré D’Urfé and denotes a wide range of high-fired green-glazed wares (Vainker 2007, 253).

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Acknowledgments I am very grateful to Helena Rundkrantz, librarian of the Far Eastern Library (Stockholm) for the reprint of Chêng Tê-k’un’s publication, and to Professor Wolfgang Behr (University of Zurich) for helpful comments on Early Chinese bronze inscriptions.

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Turner, Victor. 1967. The forest of symbols: Aspects of Ndembu ritual. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press. Turton, David. 1980. “There’s no such beast: cattle and colour naming among the Mursi”. Man, New Series 15. 2: 320–338. Vainker, Shelagh. 2007. “Ceramics for use”. In The British Museum book of Chinese Art, edited by Jessica Rawson, 212–255. London: The British Museum Press. (Second edition). Vyatkin, R.V. and Taskin V.S. 2003. Syma Cjan’ – Istoričeskie zapiski (Ši czi) [Sima Qian – Historical Records (Shi ji)]. Vol. 2. Moskva: Vostočnaja literatura. (Second edition). Wang Tao. 1996. “Colour Terms in Shang oracle bone Inscriptions”. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London 59.1: 63–101. Wáng Lóngzhèng 王龙正. 2007. “Pú hé míngwén bŭ shì bìng zài lùn tiàopĭn lĭ” 匍盉铭文补释并再论頫聘礼 [Supplementary decipherment of the inscription on the Pu he pot and restudy of Tiaopin etiquette]. Kăogŭ xuébào 考古学报 4: 405–422. Ward, Gerald W.R. (ed.). 2008. The Grove Encyclopedia of Materials and Techniques in Art. New York: Oxford University Press. Xú Cháohuá 徐朝华. 1988. “Xī “qīng” zuòwéi yánsècí de nèihán jí qí yănbiàn” 析“青”作为颜色词的内涵及其演变 [Colour lexeme “qīng”: analysis of its meaning and evolution]. Nánkāi dàxué xuébào 南开大学 学报 6: 19, 33–39. Xuē Yàlíng 薛亚玲. 2001. “Zhōngguó lìshĭshàng tong, xī kuàngyè fēnbù de biànqiān” 中国历史上铜、锡矿业分布的变迁 [Changes of copper and tin mining industry distribution in Chinese history]. Zhōngguó jīngjìshĭ yánjiū 中国经济史研究 4: 102–106. Ye, Yun, Lynn G. Salmon and Glen R. Cass. 2000. “The ozone fading of traditional Chinese plant dyes”. Journal of the American Institute for Conservation 39.2: 245–257. Yuē Zhāi 约斋. 1986. Zì yuán 字源 [Etymology of Chinese characters]. Shànghăi shūdiàn. Zhāng Qīngcháng 张清常. 1991. “Hànyŭde yánsècí (dàgāng)” 汉语的颜 色词 (大纲) [Chinese colour names (syllabus)]. Yŭyán jiàoxué yŭ yánjiū 语言教学与研究 3: 63–80.


1. Introduction As far back as the records on color naming in fashion can be traced, color researchers have repeatedly pointed to the creativity and open character of the color vocabulary in advertising. Marketing experts have become renowned for deploying the rich resources of the color vocabulary to create a potentially unlimited number of names to satisfy the demands of changing fashion. At the same time, as noted in the Methuen Handbook of Color, these names are very often produced “in such fantastic combinations that a name becomes vague or meaningless” (Kornerup and Wanscher 1967: 140). Not surprisingly, many color names come into fashion for one season and quickly give way to new and ever more creative alternatives. Challamel’s “History of Fashion in France” provides a rich source of such earlier creations, including: marked attention, stifled sigh, superfluous regrets, momentary agitation (Color 1908, Maerz and Paul 1950). Far from being historical relics, they are matched by similarly whimsical names from the 20th century: frightened mouse, moth wing, elephant’s ears (Color 1908), folly, lucky stone, basketball, elephant’s breath, wireless (Maerz and Paul 1950: 5), racy purple, dollar, lullaby, chocolate opera (Wyler 2007), and the most recent shut up and drive, New York state of mind or kiss me coral, etc. The unstable meaning and the ephemeral nature of 'fancy' color names often leave an impression that “the naming of color is totally arbitrary, unstructured and without any systematic underlying principle” (Wyler 2007: 22). Furthermore, the apparent arbitrariness of color naming and the sheer amount of data make analyzing color vocabulary a challenging and intimidating task. This view is expressed in Wyler's observation that “researchers who attempt to discover some underlying system or systematic device or even rules governing the existing names of colors


Measuring the Diversity of Colour Naming in Advertising

may be driven to despair by the abundance of terms and the apparent arbitrariness of their creation” (2007: 23). Two major solutions have been developed to cope with the unbridled fantasies of color experts and ascertain a general logic to color naming. The first approach, adopted by theoretical lexicology, aims at revealing the linguistic rules underlying the creation of color terms. Rooted in the structuralist lexical semantic tradition, this perspective primarily focuses on classifying the derivational patterns in color naming and the taxonomies of objects used to create metonymical color names (Klaus 1989; Cencig 1990; Stoeva-Holm 2007). The second solution, preferred by color practitioners, consists in compiling color dictionaries designed to include exhaustive lists of color names matched with appropriate color samples. Among the best known dictionaries of this type are Maerz and Paul (1950), Kornerup and Wanscher (1967), Judd and Kelly (1976). Both approaches aim at providing a comprehensive universal system for color vocabulary: one in the form of derivational patterns - templates for generating color names; the other - in the form of a standardized reference system of color samples and names. However, both systems suffer from two important limitations. Firstly, until very recently, manual data collection and analysis techniques have set serious quantitative restrictions on working with the vast color vocabulary. In lexical studies, this meant a limited scope of analysis restricted to one or two product categories. Color dictionaries have traditionally been designed to cover wider areas of application, which resulted in needing decades for their compilation. Considering the rapid changes in the color vocabulary of advertising, this still remains an important drawback. The second limitation to the study of color naming is related to the underestimation and the understatement of the language-internal variation in the usage of color terms in different contexts, which creates an impression of homogeneity of color vocabulary. In lexical studies, this results from the structuralist theoretical framework, which tends to emphasize universal rules, and from the data collection procedures limited to individual product categories. Color dictionaries do in some cases provide notes on the usage area for a color term, but these notes usually indicate only the lexicographic sources. Building on the arguments presented in Geeraerts (2005) and Geeraerts et al. (2010), we propose a quantitative analysis of the variation patterns in color naming in advertising in line with the usage-based approach developed within the framework of Cognitive Linguistics (see also Croft 2009, Bybee 2010). This perspective makes a number of assumptions about linguistic meaning that can be summarized as follows. Firstly, social

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meaning revealed in specific usage contexts forms an inherent part of linguistic meaning and of language structure. As a generalization over dialectal, sociolectal, stylistic, etc., varieties of language, lectal variation makes the basis of a specific, non-denotational type of meaning, i.e. the additional part of the informative content of a word not covered by the denotational meaning (Geeraerts 2005). The relevance of this type of meaning specifically for color terms has been demonstrated by Steinvall (2002) in his corpus-based analysis of the color term distribution across a number of object categories. Using the Bank of English as his source of data, he shows that such near-synonymous color terms as crimson, magenta, plum and maroon - though similar in their referential meaning are quite distinct in their areas of application. Specifically, “crimson and magenta are most often used in the field of PLANTS, whereas CLOTHING is the most salient nominal field in plum and maroon” (Steinvall 2002: 154). He further suggests that “this gives us additional information about the meaning of the term. We could say that a certain nominal field is particularly salient in the usage of the term – a salient attribute – in the same way as one might propose that [hair] is a salient attribute of BLOND(E)” (Steinvall 2002: 154). Secondly, we assume that linguistic communities and their linguistic repertoires are inherently non-homogeneous and best described as a “conglomerate of overlapping repertoires” rather than a uniform linguistic system (Geeraerts 2005). Accordingly, the usage of individual terms, the structure of the color vocabulary and the color naming strategies may vary depending on the particular area of application. Thirdly, usage of a linguistic expression is determined by multiple factors in the specific spatio-temporal context (Geeraerts 2005). In other words, we expect that the choices of specific color names are influenced by a number of conceptual and sociolectal factors and require a multivariate analysis of empirical data representing language usage, for example, in the form of corpora. Starting from these assumptions, we approach the diversity and innovation in color naming as a usage-related phenomenon best analyzed with quantitative techniques applied in corpus linguistics. More specifically, we apply one of the lexical richness measurements known as type token ratio to estimate the diversity of color names in different advertising contexts. Our main goal is to identify the patterns of variation in color naming in the different product categories and color categories, as well as the effects of specific product-related and brand-related characteristics.


Measuring the Diversity of Colour Naming in Advertising

2. Data preparation and operational implementation The study is based on an extensive self-compiled database of color names and color samples (43,880 observations) retrieved manually and automatically1 from the websites of manufacturing and retail companies in the US market. In the process of data collection, we focused on the websites that provide three types of information related to different aspects of color term usage. Firstly, we obtained linguistic information in the form of the actual color words. Secondly, we preferred those websites providing visual representations of the color referents in the form of color swatches for specific shades. These visual representations give us a way to measure the referential range of color words and to identify the specific color categories in a language-independent way. Thirdly, we retrieved contextual and sociolectal information related to the products and brands, which was used for the analysis of marketing-related factors in color naming.

2.1. Identifying color categories One of the major challenges at the stage of data preparation was related to identifying the color category membership of the individual color samples. Though intuitively the distinction between red, white, blue etc. colors appears rather straightforward, grouping thousands of color samples into color categories is far from trivial, especially if one aims at identifying color categories in a language independent way. This implies, that we want to identify all the potential members of a color category like RED or BLUE, even when they are named with terms like navy, scarlet, candy apple or atlantic. More specifically, identifying color categories involved two major tasks: firstly, measurement of the color term referents and, secondly, identifying the color category membership of each individual color sample. Accessing referent-related information remains one of the major obstacles to studies of language semantics based on non-elicited data. Existing text corpora provide only very indirect access to the possible usage situation. To address this limitation, we specifically collected information about the color term referents represented as the color swatch image next to the color name on the product web-site. Through recourse to 1 We would like to especially thank Tom Ruette, whose expertise and help in automatic data retrieval and data processing provided us with the additional data that enabled the application of quantitative methods in this study.

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the swatch images, we retrieved a numeric representation of the color referents in the form of RGB values. The RGB values stand for the amount of red, green and blue light in the color representation and, can be viewed as coordinates locating the color sample in the three-dimensional RGB color space. Aiming at the most adequate cognitive representations of the color category structure, we converted the RGB values into CIELAB coordinates more accurately representing the metrics of the perceptual color space. The location of the color sample in the three-dimensional color space was then applied to explore the mapping between color terms and color categories. However, numeric color spaces like RGB or CIELab provide a nondiscreet representation of color continuum, whereas for the purposes of our analysis, we are interested in the categorical structure of the color space that would correspond to our intuitive understanding that red, black, blue, etc. are ‘different colors’. Given that color categories remain a paradigm example of the fuzziness of category boundaries, assigning category membership to individual color shades is far from simple and remains an important focus of debate in color psychology. Recently, this issue has been picked up in the field of artificial intelligence, where a number of models have been proposed to model human-like color categorization behaviours (Menegaz et al. 2007, Benavente et al. 2008). For the purposes of our analysis, we applied the parametric model of color categorization developed by Benavente et al (2008). Trained on experimental data obtained from human subjects, the model assigns a color category membership in each of the eleven original basic color categories proposed by Berlin and Kay (1999 [1969]) to each individual sample based on its RGB values. Applying this automatic procedure, we are able to objectively group the database color samples into eleven basic color categories.

2.2. Product categories and sociolectal factors The extralinguistic factors in our dataset are represented by the distinction between different product categories, product types and individual brands. Four product categories were selected to be included in the analysis: cars, clothing, makeup and house paints. The selection and sampling procedures were based on two main considerations. On the one hand, we attempted to make the selection as diverse and representative as possible, and to include different product categories from multiple brands. On the other hand, we had to take into account such technical aspects as machine readability and data availability.


Measuring the Diversity of Colour Naming in Advertising

We applied two sampling strategies in data collection. Retailer sampling involved automatic extraction of all relevant data from retailer websites selling products from numerous brands. Specifically, we used the following four websites: for cars, for makeup, for clothing and makeup, for clothing. Brand sampling involved manual collection of data from the websites of specific brands such as Avon, JCrew, Olympic Paints, etc. The two sampling approaches are different and complementary in their representativeness. The retailer sampling provides data from a wider range of manufacturers, but is limited to the range of products sold by a specific retailer. Brand sampling is limited to fewer manufacturers, but provides a more exhaustive range of products from a specific brand. The balanced combination of the two sampling strategies draws on their respective advantages. Within each product category, we further identified a number of product-related and brand-related features, which we expect to affect the color naming strategies. Thus, every product category involves a subcategorization into more specific types. For instance, in makeup, we make a distinction between lip colors (lipstick, lip pencil), skin colors (powder, foundation), mascara, etc. In cars, this distinction identifies luxury cars, passenger cars, SUVs and vans following the classification at In clothes, we can differentiate between shirts, pants, coats, and so forth. The main brand-related parameter we have considered is the prestige status of the brand capturing the intuitive distinction between prestige (high-end) brands, on the one hand, and all the others that are not associated with these characteristics, on the other hand. The distinction was made based on the information in consumer-oriented resources like consumer guides (Consumer Guide Auto, that distinguish between the luxury and budget brands in any specific product category. However, we need to point out that many marketing factors intuitively identified for one product category do not easily apply to other categories. For instance, in cars, a distinction is commonly made between American, Asian and European brands, but this parameter is much less applicable to clothes and is irrelevant in house paints. As a result, analysis of this type of marketing factors had to be limited to individual product categories.

3. Method: measuring lexical richness The problem of quantifying the diversity and size of vocabulary has been addressed in a number of linguistic fields and has become associated

Alena Anishchanka, Dirk Speelman, Dirk Geeraerts


with lexical richness measurement. Its early applications can be found in language acquisition research, where the concept of lexical richness has been deployed to estimate the lexical proficiency of L1 and L2 speakers (for an overview, see Vermeer 2000). With the development of statistical methods and automatic text processing techniques, which allow much faster and more accurate measuring of larger amounts of text, lexical richness estimations have been increasingly applied to a number of corpusoriented linguistic fields along with frequency distributions. One area particularly invested in measuring lexical richness is the research in authorship attribution and author style analysis based on the assumption “that vocabulary richness or concentration provides a kind of authorial wordprint that can distinguish authors from each other” (Hoover 2003: 151). Larger stratified corpora, in turn, allow for the extending of this approach to systematically explore the characteristics of texts larger than individual literary works and representing different text types and usage contexts. One example of applying lexical richness parameters to explore the effects of extralinguistic factors from a variationist or sociolinguistic perspective is found in van Gijsel et al. (2006), who discuss the effect of register on lexical richness. This perspective allows broader generalizations reaching beyond the variation in the literary style of individual authors. The diverse applications of lexical richness measurements have led to the development of a number of statistics for testing the variability and diversity of a text. Among the basic estimations of vocabulary richness, Tweedie and Baayen (1998) discuss the number of tokens, number of types, number of hapax legomena and other elements of the frequency spectrum, mean word frequency, type token ratio, etc.. However, a major problem in applying these quite intuitive parameters is their dependence on text length. They discuss three approaches to solving this problem, which involve simple mathematic transformations of the above measurements based on type and token frequencies, measures based on frequency spectrum elements, and measures based on the probabilistic models for frequency distributions (for more detail, see also Baayen 1992, Vermeer 2000, Hoover 2003). However, Tweedie and Baayen demonstrate that most of these statistics are not independent from text length either and propose using the trajectories of individual constants as an alternative. Assuming consistently different values in texts by different authors, these constants capture some of the authorial style in the form of developmental profiles and can then be analyzed using – for example, cluster analysis. Another practical solution for the problem of text length dependence has been proposed based on controlling the text length in the samples for


Measuring the Diversity of Colour Naming in Advertising

which the basic measurements such as type token ratio (TTR) are calculated. One example is the Mean Segmental TTR, where the mean TTR is estimated for consecutive text sections of equal length (van Gijsel et al. 2006). Van Gijsel et al. develop to a technique akin to MSTTR, but apply it to larger text segments for analysis of the sociolinguistic dimensions of variation in a Corpus of Spoken Dutch. In the following analysis, we follow the approaches proposed in van Gijsel et al. (2006) and Baayen and Tweedie (1998) and apply type token ratio (TTR) as a formal parameter of color naming diversity in specific usage contexts in advertising. As suggested by the term, in its basic form, TTR calculates the number of different words in a text (types) over the number of all words (tokens). However, we introduce several modifications to the standard TTR calculation that need mentioning. Firstly, the TTRs are calculated based on a database of independently used color terms rather than for coherent text segments. Secondly, instead of splitting the dataset into equal segments for TTR calculations, we adopt the trajectory of TTRs for incrementally increasing samples in a way similar to the developmental profiles proposed by Tweedie and Baayen (1998). More specifically, TTR is calculated several times for randomly selected samples of 100, 200, 300, etc., with the number of measurement points dependent on the size of the subset. In this way, we trace how TTR changes in specific usage situations thereby turning the dependence of TTR on sample size to our advantage. To obtain a more reliable estimation, the TTR calculation is iterated 20 times and the mean for each sample size is used in the analysis. Thirdly, the TTR profiles are applied to analyze both the sociolectal parameters of variation related to marketing strategies and the conceptual effects observed in individual color categories. At the same time, there is an important limitation in our analysis related to the database size. Specifically, due to the limited number of observations, we cannot obtain a large number of samples for systematic multivariate analysis using regression (van Gijsel et al. 2006) or cluster analysis (Tweedie and Baayen 1998). However, we believe that even in this relatively simple form, the dynamics of TTR in the specific color naming situations return important insights into the usage of color terms in advertising.

4. TTR in the product and color categories At the first stage of the analysis, we explore the diversity of color naming in the four product categories and the eleven color categories

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identified with the procedure described in section 2.1. Figure 1 represents the change in TTR profiles in the four product categories, where the TTRs are plotted relative to the size of the randomly selected samples for which they were calculated. The calculations were made for subsets from four product categories each including 5,500 tokens generating a vector of 55 measurements for each product; however, the plots represent a zoom-in on the first ten measurement points, where we observe the most of variation. Figure 1. TTR profiles for product categories

The plot reveals very distinct TTR profiles across the four product categories. The paints subset is characterized by very high TTRs, which start at 0.99 and remain very close to 1 suggesting the greatest diversity in color naming almost independent of the sample size. In other words, nearly every color name used for house paints is a new type and is hardly repeated across manufacturers. The TTRs for makeup and cars also start from relatively high ratios of 0.93 and 0.87 respectively, but the dynamics prove quite different for the two products. While in makeup we find a relatively high TTR even for larger samples (0.61 in the 5,500 token sample), in cars the TTR drops relatively quickly already in the first 1,000 observations (0.21 in the 5,500 token sample). This results in a steeper profile indicating higher re-usage of color names as the sample size increases. Finally, the clothing subset shows the lowest TTR that starts at 0.62 (0.21 in the 5,500 token sample), suggesting the lowest variation in


Measuring the Diversity of Colour Naming in Advertising

the color naming choices, i.e. high repetition of color names in this product category. Figure 2. TTR profiles for basic color categories

The same technique was applied to compare the TTR dynamics across the eleven basic color categories as summarized in Figure 2. The eleven basic color categories correspond to the original Berlin and Kay study (1999 [1969]) and the color category membership was assigned applying the algorithm discussed in section 2.1. The most noticeable profile is that of BLACK characterized by very low TTRs starting at 0.5 and dropping down to 0.24. This is much lower than the other color categories and confirms our intuitive observation that black is a very common color term in advertising and the preferred name for colors in this color category. At the other extreme, we find PINK marked by the highest TTR starting at 0.96 and remaining at 0.84 for the first 1,000 observations. This profile indicates a much higher variation in naming choices meaning a large number of unique names in this category. The TTRs for the other color categories start between 0.72 (WHITE) and 0.9 (ORANGE) and gradually decrease at approximately the same speed with the growing sample size. Interestingly, between the two extreme categories of BLACK and PINK, we can distinguish two groups of

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categories. The first group, including YELLOW, GREEN, ORANGE and RED, is located slightly above the second group, including BROWN, BLUE, PURPLE, GREY, and WHITE. The division appears to be connected to the gradual shift from warm colors at the top against the dark/cool colors at the bottom, with achromatic GREY, WHITE and BLACK at the low end. This indicates that warm categories tend to receive more diverse names and might suggest that these categories are conceptually more diverse, i.e. more individual shades are distinguished and named in these parts of the color space. This would correspond to the observed universal tendency for warm categories to divide before the dark/cool colors (Kay et al. 1997, Kay and Maffi 1999); however, further analysis is needed to support this observation.

5. Within-product variation As the next step in the analysis, we zoom in on the TTR profiles of the color categories for each of the four products. This allows us to estimate the consistency of the patterns identified for the aggregated dataset and to reveal any peculiarities in within-product variation due to lectal factors. The general distribution of the color category TTR profiles in the four products follows our expectations resulting from the product TTRs in Figure 1. In particular, the TTR profiles for color categories in the cars and, especially, in clothing are lower than the respective profiles in makeup and paints. Given this systematic difference and due to space limitations, we will only discuss several examples from the color category TTR profiles in two product categories (cars and makeup) and omit the plots for clothing and paints. Closer inspection of the TTR distributions within the products reveals two additional patterns. Firstly, none of the product categories displays the same relative positions of color categories that were observed in the aggregated dataset, i.e. the progression from dark/cool to warm colors. For instance, in cars BLUE and GREY are characterized by the consistently highest TTRs, and BLACK is much higher than suggested by the aggregated data and its position in the other product categories. In other words, these color categories are characterized by markedly higher diversity in color naming in cars than is otherwise typical for these colors in advertising in general. This might be due to the fact that BLACK, BLUE and GREY are very common car colors and come in many different shades, which thereby drives higher demand for more diverse color names.


Measuring the Diversity of Colour Naming in Advertising

Figure 3. TTR profiles for basic color categories for the car subset

In the makeup subset, we find further evidence for the role of relative color category salience in the individual products. The most prominent TTR profiles are found in the three color categories most frequent in makeup: PINK, RED and ORANGE. However, despite the comparably high frequency of these colors, they report quite different TTR distributions. Specifically, RED and PINK are marked by very high TTRs starting at 0.97 and 0.98 respectively, whereas ORANGE begins at 0.84 and goes down to 0.55 within the first 1,000 observations thereby demonstrating a much lower profile.

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Figure 4. TTR profiles for basic color categories for the makeup subset

We may interpret this distribution from the perspective of the relative salience of the individual color categories and their usage in the different types of makeup. Shades categorized as ORANGE in our dataset are usually found in skin-colored makeup (e.g. powders) intended to create a ‘background’ for colorful accents added with lipstick or blush that come in many shades of RED and PINK. The TTRs indicate that accent colors in makeup, especially PINK and RED, tend to receive unique names, whereas the ‘background’ skin colors from the ORANGE and BROWN categories are repeatedly named with names such beige, light, or medium. Another color category with a low TTR profile is BLACK, which is usually found in mascara that may also be viewed as providing a background for the bright accents added with eye shadow that come in many shades of GREEN, BLUE, PURPLE, etc. Accordingly, these accent categories are marked by higher TTRs compared to BLACK. Additionally, the higher diversity in the accent colors might be driven by the larger number of shades sold next to each other within a particular lipstick model or an eye shadow set, whereas the background colors usually come in fewer shades and with the same ‘boring’ names, such as black, beige or dark.


Measuring the Diversity of Colour Naming in Advertising

The TTR profiles for the different types of makeup such as mascara, lipstick, nail polish, etc. (Figure 5) reveal a correlating structure with the TTRs for the color categories prevailing in these product types. Figure 5. TTR profiles for makeup types

In other words, product types with predominantly ‘background’ colors such as mascara and skin colors (powders and foundations) are characterized by considerably lower TTRs compared to the accent colors represented by eye shadows, blush, lip colors and nail colors. The division between the two groups is even more obvious than the pattern in the color category plot in Figure 4. Thus, the TTR profiles of product subtypes provide additional evidence for the relevance of the relative color category salience as a contextual factor in color naming diversity. The car dataset also reveals the effect of the product subtype (type of car) on the richness of color name choices.

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Figure 6. TTR profiles for car types

The plot in Figure 6 reveals a higher TTR profile for luxury cars and passenger cars compared to vans and trucks, which might be interpreted in terms of the prestige status of the different vehicle types. The more statusrelated luxury and passenger cars are marked by higher color naming diversity than the utilitarian trucks and vans. SUVs, perceived as a more status-related type of utility car, are marked by a TTR profile located in between the aforementioned two groups. However, we should also point out that the diversity of color naming for luxury cars might be underrepresented in our dataset. In most brands, luxury cars are manufactured in many custom colors, which are not listed among the ‘standard’ colors included in our database. As a result, the TTR profile for this group might appear more similar to that of lower-end passenger cars than it actually is. The color diversity patterns in cars of different origins might provide additional evidence for the effect of the prestige factor. Figure 7 shows that foreign (European and Asian) manufacturers tend to deploy more color name diversity compared to American brands. However, the structure of our database suggests that foreign brands are less present at the lower end of the US automobile market, a segment dominated by American car manufacturers. Consequently, the higher diversity of color naming in foreign brands might represent the richer color vocabulary of the more prestigious foreign cars.


Measuring the Diversity of Colour Naming in Advertising

Figure 7. TTR profiles for cars from different countries

Analysis of the TTR profiles relative to marketing-related factors such as the type of product, prestige status of the brand, country of origin suggests that lectal factors play an important role in diversifying the color naming strategies. This is demonstrated by the ‘shifting’ of the TTR profiles that overrides the tendencies observed for the individual color category TTRs in the aggregated dataset.

6. Variation between individual brands The diversity of color naming strategies can be analyzed at a more fine-grained level by calculating the TTR profiles for individual brands. This type of analysis is comparable to the study of individual author style to which TTRs have been traditionally applied. Since the estimation of TTR dynamics requires an extensive subset of observations, the following discussion is limited to the several brand subsets including the highest number of observations selected from each product category. The TTR profiles of the individual brands generally tend to follow the patterns predicted by the average TTR distributions for each product represented in Figure 1. Thus, we find that car brands and clothing brands are marked by lower TTR profiles than makeup and paint brands. However, the relative TTR distribution between brands within each product category provides additional understanding of extralinguistic

Alena Anishchanka, Dirk Speelman, Dirk Geeraerts


brand-related factors that determine diversification in color naming strategies. The clothing category is characterized by the highest TTR variation across brands (Figure 8). Figure 8. TTR profiles for clothing brands

A number of brands including Jerzees, Gildan, Devon & Jones, Hyp and Anvil have relatively low TTR profiles suggesting a high level of name repetition. Interestingly, all these brands sell informal, casual and recreational clothes at relatively low prices. Our results place JCrew and Banana Republic, which sell more expensive, dressy clothing, in the top tier of the TTR vectors. In between these two groups, there is Covington – a lower end brand selling everyday clothes through Sears and Kmart. This brand is similar to the above brands in the clothing type and the below brands in its pricing range. This distribution of the TTR profiles suggests that the diversification of color naming interrelates with the prestige status of the brand and the price range, as well as the clothing type. This supports our findings in the previous section, where we explored the same lectal factors at the more generalized level of product categories. However, this pattern is much less obvious in brands in other product categories. We trace some effect of prestige status in makeup brands, where Chanel and MAC have slightly higher TTRs compared to Maybelline, L’Oreal and Revlon but, in general, this difference is not very pronounced.


Measuring the Diversity of Colour Naming in Advertising

Figure 9. TTR profiles for makeup brands

In the car and paint datasets, we find almost no variation between brands. In the case of paint brands, this might be attributed to their rather homogeneous lectal characteristics compared to clothing brands. All paints in our database are manufactured by US companies and do not differ greatly in their pricing ranges, which might result in more uniform color naming strategies. In the case of car brands, the situation appears more complicated. Though the TTR profiles of individual brands are generally very similar, they appear to separate into two groups. The first group including Chevrolet, Ford, Dodge, and Toyota features slightly higher TTRs compared to the second group, which includes BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, and GMC. This pattern runs counter to our expectations based on the effects of car type, country and brand status demonstrated in the previous section (Figure 6, 7). In particular, we would expect the high-end foreign brands of the second group to have higher TTR profiles, compared to the standard, mostly American brands in the first group.

Alena Anishchanka, Dirk Speelman, Dirk Geeraerts


Figure 10. TTR profiles for paint brands

Figure 11. TTR profiles for car brands

However, it is possible that the slightly higher diversity in color naming by the lower-end group is due to the more diverse structure of their fleet. In other words, the brands in the BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, GMC group are marked by a relatively restricted range of car types with the first three brands mainly selling (luxury) passenger cars and GMC known for its SUVs. Furthermore, as mentioned above, the custom color options by


Measuring the Diversity of Colour Naming in Advertising

these luxury brands are somewhat underrepresented in our data. On the other hand, the brands in the Chevrolet, Ford, Dodge, Toyota group feature a wider range of vehicle types including passenger cars, vans, SUVs and trucks. It is conceivable that this diversity in product subtypes leads to the generally higher diversity of color naming in these brands, which counteracts our expectations based on the status and country associated with the brand. In other words, a sample of names from one brand including different vehicle types might show greater variability in naming than a sample from a different brand dominated by a single car type.

7. The linguistic dimension In this section, we zoom in on the linguistic sources of diversity in color naming and discuss two strategies for creating new color names from the point of view of their linguistic structure. In the previous sections, we operationalized color naming diversity in terms of repetition or ‘recycling’ of individual color terms without making any distinction between monolexemic and compound terms. However, this distinction might prove relevant for understanding creativity in color naming, since not every ‘new’ color term is necessarily made up ‘from scratch’. A more efficient way to produce new names is, obviously, to recombine well-known constituents in a new syntactic pattern. For instance, Table 1 lists fourteen different color terms selected from the database. Some names are used only once, such as almond kiss, or golden caramel, whereas other terms are repeated again and again, such as mocha, caramel or golden almond. Furthermore, these fourteen terms are constructed from only nine constituents, and the seven terms in the right column have no 'new' constituents compared to the seven names in the left column. This means that some constituents, such as almond, light or caramel, get reused more actively than others, such as kiss or cookie. Table 1. Examples of color name frequency distributions No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Term almond almond cookie almond kiss mocha golden almond light almond beige caramel latte

Frequency 8 1 1 28 12 1 1

No. 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Term mocha latte Latte Caramel caramel kiss caramel latte golden caramel light caramel

Frequency 1 9 18 1 1 1 1

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This ‘syntactic’ strategy is not only linguistically ‘cheaper’, but might also add to the overall coherence of color naming in a specific field of application. This strategy relies on the linguistic entrenchment of certain color words and their color meanings. In some cases, the color words already have a color meaning registered in the dictionary (e.g. caramel and mocha in, while others become entrenched in the specific context by multiple repetitions (like almond or latte typically used in makeup). In both cases, the more entrenched names or constituents are more familiar to the potential consumer and might be less demanding for processing. From this point of view, innovation in color naming manifests itself in the new syntactic combinations of the constituents to a greater or lesser extent entrenched in the product category. Accordingly, we can analyze this strategy by adapting the procedure described in section 3 to calculate TTRs for constituents rather than complete word forms. Figure 12. TTR profiles for constituent usage by product category

Based on the examples in Table 1, we would expect generally lower TTR profiles for color term constituents, since they are more likely to be repeated across the different usage situations compared to complete word forms. This tendency is quite noticeable in Figures 12 and 13, which show lower TTR profiles for color term constituents in the four product categories and across the eleven basic color categories compared to the respective word form TTR profiles in Figures 1 and 2. The constituent profiles are also more closely ‘clustered’ suggesting less variation between


Measuring the Diversity of Colour Naming in Advertising

individual categories in terms of constituent usage compared to word form usage. Although the relative position of the corresponding TTR profiles remains the same for word forms and constituents, the difference in the individual categories informs on how typical the syntactic recombination strategy is across the different contexts. Figure 13. TTR profiles for constituent usage in the basic color categories

To establish more explicitly any differences in the respective constituent and word form profiles, we have visualized them in Figure 14 in a bubble plot. It represents the TTR measurements for constituents in the four product profiles in the same x and y coordinates as Figure 12 with the ‘bubble’ size indicating the difference between the constituent and the word form TTR for each sample size.

Alena Anishchanka, Dirk Speelman, Dirk Geeraerts


Figure 14. Differences in TTR profiles for constituent and word form usage by product category

According to Figure 14, paints, makeup and cars are marked by a noticeable difference between the TTRs for color terms and the corresponding TTRs for constituents. In other words, although there is less repetition of color terms in these products, there is a higher degree of ‘recycling’ of color term ‘building blocks’. The largest bubble size, for cars, suggests that this discrepancy is strongest in this product category. On the other hand, in clothing we observe the smallest difference between the word form and the constituent usage that might be due to the highest proportion of monolexemic terms in this category, many of them basic color terms. This means that many color terms here are equal to their constituents, which makes the two profiles rather similar. One result of this different approach to constituent and word form repetition in the individual products is that clothing and cars converge in their constituent usage, i.e. they ‘recycle’ color term constituents at approximately the same rate, whereas they remain quite different in their recycling of color names. Another noticeable tendency is the increasing size of the bubbles in paints and makeup with the growing sample size, which indicates a growing discrepancy between word form and constituent TTRs. In other words, the TTR for constituents decreases faster than the TTR for word forms and, as the sample size increases, we are more likely to encounter repeated constituents than repeated word forms. What is more unexpected is that in cars we find the opposite tendency as shown by the slightly decreasing size of bubbles indicating that with the increasing sample size


Measuring the Diversity of Colour Naming in Advertising

word forms are repeated more often than their constituents. This is not an implausible situation considering that dozens of car models are sold in the same color with the same color name, so that new names are added at a lower rate than new constituents. Finally, in clothes we find a more or less stable rate of TTR change both for word forms and constituents, which is in line with our observation that in many cases color terms here equal their constituents. The visual comparison of TTR profiles using a bubble plot becomes more complicated for multiple categories and, hence, for the analysis of constituent TTR profiles for the eleven basic color categories, we apply the mean estimates of TTR for constituents and the mean discrepancies between the two TTR profiles in a floating bar chart (Figure 15). The bottom end of each bar corresponds to the average TTR for constituents in each category and the height of the bar represents the average discrepancy between the respective word form and the constituent TTR profile. The BLACK and WHITE categories display the lowest discrepancy between the word form and the constituent profiles, thus suggesting a fairly similar repetition rate in both categories. This situation is comparable to that found in clothing and might be attributed to the same factor, specifically, the high usage of basic color terms in these two color categories. On the other hand, PINK shows the largest difference between color term and constituent recycling, which suggests that many unique names are created here by recombining the same constituents. It is also worth mentioning that this tendency better characterizes the primary basic categories of RED, BLUE and GREEN, as suggested by the larger difference in TTR profiles for word forms and constituents in these categories compared to the secondary basics ORANGE, PURPLE and BROWN.

Alena Anishchanka, Dirk Speelman, Dirk Geeraerts


Figure 15. Average differences in TTR profiles for constituent and word form usage for by basic color categories

8. Conclusions In this study, we explored the diversity and lexical richness of color names across different color naming contexts in advertising. Using TTR profiles as a parameter of color vocabulary richness, we analyze the patterns of color name choices relative to conceptual (color categorization) and lectal (marketing-related) factors. The analysis demonstrates that lexical characteristics of color naming are not random but are rather determined by a complex interaction of conceptual and lectal factors of both universal and contextual nature. The main findings are summarized as follows: Firstly, the TTR profiles of individual basic color categories suggest a correlation between the heterogeneity of color naming and the universal evolutionary sequence of basic color categories (Berlin and Kay 1969[1999], Kay et al. 1997, Kay and Maffi 1999). More specifically, diversity in color naming progresses from dark/cool to light/warm color categories, which might suggest a relatively higher distinctiveness of shades in the light/warm color categories. Secondly, this general pattern is adjusted to specific contexts, where individual color categories receive more diverse names when they are more salient in a specific product. For instance, the comparatively higher TTR profiles for BLUE, GREY and BLACK in cars and PINK and RED in makeup can be attributed to the higher salience of these color categories in


Measuring the Diversity of Colour Naming in Advertising

the respective product categories. We should point out that the relative salience of individual color categories does not necessarily result from the high number of referents identified in this category. For instance, PINK and RED are similarly frequent to ORANGE in makeup. However, as a more neutral background color, the ORANGE category is characterized by less diverse color naming suggesting that the ‘fancier’ names are retained for the more ‘important’ colors. Thirdly, the effect of the salience of individual color categories is further attenuated by more specific product-related and brand-related factors such as brand status, product sub-categorization and country of origin. These factors may either resonate with the salience of individual color categories or counteract this factor. In the case of makeup, the salience of individual color categories tends to align with product subcategorization. For instance, lipsticks are dominated by reds and pinks, whereas in mascara we typically find black, which is reflected in the consistent TTR profiles for color categories and product types. In cars and clothing, the salience of individual color categories cross-cuts the division into types and individual brands associated with a specific prestige status and country, which results in less consistent TTR profiles. However, more fine-grained analysis on a larger dataset is required to disentangle the effects of these different factors. Finally, from a more methodological perspective, the study demonstrates that large-scale quantitative analysis does reveal general patterns and tendencies in color naming even in such a ‘chaotic’ field as advertising.

References Baayen, Harald. 1992. Statistical Models for Word Frequency Distributions: A Linguistic Evaluation. Computers and the Humanities 26 (5/6): 347– 363. Benavente, Robert, Vanrell, Maria, and Ramon Baldrich. 2008. Parametric fuzzy sets for automatic color naming. Journal of the Optical Society of America A, 25(10), 2582–2593. Berlin, Brent, and Paul Kay. (1999 [1969]). Basic Color Terms. Stanford: CSLI. Bybee, Joan. 2010. Language, Usage and Cognition. 2010. Cambridge University Press. Cencig, Elisabeth. 1990. United Colours: Colour terms in contemporary fashion trends. Fachsprache, 12(3-4), 114–128.

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Color names and their origin; quaint, grotesque, and absurd terms used to describe the most delicate tints. (1908, February 9). New York Times. Croft, William. 2009. Toward a Social Cognitive Linguistics. In New Directions in Cognitive Linguistics, ed. Vyvyan Evans and Stéphanie Pourcel, 395–420. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. Geeraerts, Dirk 2010. Theories of Lexical Semantics. Berlin: Mouton De Gruyter. Geeraerts, Dirk. 2005. Lectal variation and empirical data in Cognitive Linguistics. In F. Ruiz de Mendoza Ibáñez & S. Peña Cervel (Eds.), Cognitive Linguistics. Internal Dynamics and Interdisciplinary Interactions (pp. 163–189). Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter. Hoover, David L. 2003. Another Perspective on Vocabulary Richness. Computers and the Humanities (37): 151–178. Kay, Paul, and Luisa Maffi. 1999. Color Appearance and the Emergence and Evolution of Basic Color Lexicons. American Anthropologist 101 (4): 743–760. Kay, Paul, Brent Berlin, Luisa Maffi, and William Merrifield. 1997. Color Naming Across Languages. In Color Categories in Thought and Language, ed. Clyde L. Hardin and Luisa Maffi, 21–56. Cambridge University Press. Kelly, Kenneth. L. and Deane B. Judd. 1976. Color: Universal Language and Dictionary of Names. National Bureau of Standards (US) (SP 440). Klaus, Hilde. 1989. Beobachtungen zu den Modefarbenwörtern in der deutschen Gegenwartssprache. Zeitschrift für germanistische Linguistik, (17), 22–57. Kornerup, A., Wanscher, J. H. 1967. Methuen Handbook of Colour (2nd ed.). London: Methuen & Co. Maerz, A., and R. M. Paul. 1950. A dictionary of color (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. Menegaz, G., Le Troter, A., Sequeira, J., and Boi, J. M. 2007. A discrete model for color naming. EURASIP Journal on Advances in Signal Processing, 2007(1), 1–11. Stoeva-Holm, Dessislava. 2007. Color terms in fashion. In R. E. MacLaury, G. V. Paramei, and D. Dedrick (Eds.), Anthropology of Color: Interdisciplinary Multilevel Modeling (pp. 421–440). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Tweedie, Fiona J, and Harald Baayen. 1998. How Variable May a Constant Be? Measures of Lexical Richness in Perspective. Computers and the Humanities 32 (5): 323–352. Van Gijsel, Sofie, Dirk Speelman and Dirk Geeraerts. 2006. Locating Lexical Richness: a Corpus Linguistic, Sociovariational Analysis. In


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JADT 2006 Proceedings of 8th International Conference on Textual Data Statistical Analysis, II: 961–971. Presses Universitaires de Franche-Comté. Vermeer, Anne. 2000. Coming to Grips with Lexical Richness in Spontaneous Speech Data. Language Testing 17 (1): 65–83. Wyler, Siegfried, 2007. Color terms between elegance and beauty: The verbalization of color with textiles and cosmetics. In M. Plümacher and P. Holz (Eds.), Speaking of colors and odors (pp. 113–128). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.



And how is this? All colours are compounded of two primary colours, the purple that is Heaven and the Brown that is Earth —Owen 1992: 187

Introduction1 The present study divides into two main parts, the first dedicated to contextualizing Liu Xie and his work Wenxin diaolong 文心雕龍, The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons (hereafter WXDL),2 with the second analyzing the binomial literature/colours as described in the WXDL starting out from Liu Xie’s own consideration that colour and


Modern scholarship has been paying a lot of attention to Liu Xie and the WXDL since the 1990s and there is now a large bibliography on this topic, both in IndoEuropean and Oriental languages. Most of the data used to contextualize Liu Xie and his work here has been sourced from the deep research undertaken by experts on “dragonology” (longxue 龍學). This essay centres on colours and literature as developed in Liu Xie’s WXDL while also seeking to contribute partially to this field. 2 This work can also be translated as Embellishment on the heart of writing or The literary mind carves dragons (Owen 1992: 185), or still further as The Spirit of the literature and the carved dragon. As I analyze in the following section, there are “serious problems of interpretation presented by the title” (Owen 1992: 185). On the various translations of the title, see also the survey by Valérie Lavoix (2000: 198; 235-242).

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shape are the external manifestation of wen 文, adornment/literature. This essay focuses on Liu Xie’s emphasis on colours as part of literary creation and aims to study and examine the phenomena through a sample selection from the WXDL that deals with literary criticism and is otherwise ignored despite the huge amount of publications on Liu Xie’s milestone. As Stephen Owen has remarked “Colouration was used in earlier and later literary criticism, but nowhere else with the frequency with which it appeared in WXDL, and nowhere else was it a technical category that would have merited the separate treatment it received [in chapter 31]” (1992: 239). This is a question that is partially answered here by analyzing the WXDL but is simultaneously intentionally left fully unanswered in order to leave scope for further and future research in this field. Since very ancient times in China colours have long since been considered suitable for divination. The character wu 物, which holds the meaning “things”—linked to reality or ten thousand things (wanwu 萬物 3 )—, amongst others, is composed of two elements: niu 牛 “ox” and wu 勿 “multi-coloured”. Both niu 牛 and wu 勿 are involved in rituality. As Wang Tao (1996: 81) has pointed out in his survey of colour terms, in the Shuowen jiezi 說文解字, the word wu 物 was been used to mean “things” since at least the Warring States period. The complexity of this character has accumulated throughout the centuries and has finally become applicable to referring to: object, matters, plants, animals, marks, spirits, patterns types, etcetera (Wang 1996: 81). However, the earlier meaning of this word was that of colour or multi-coloured thing. Wang Tao has put forward several pieces of evidence in support of this last meaning, which, most probably, is one of the original and earliest meanings attributed to the word wu 物 (1996: 82). The fact that this word’s original meaning “colour”/“multi-colour” was related to animals only underlines the importance of colour to rituality during the Shang period. Wang Tao has stressed that “Shang colour terms are associated with ritual animals” (1996: 97) and that this trend did not only relate to the word wu 物 but also to other colour terms found in Shang oracle inscriptions (see Wang 1996; Zhang 2003). Thus, colours are an integral part of Chinese society since ancient times. 4 However, it remains to be understood whether they


This expression refers to all things of creation, meaning everything on earth, and incorporates different manifestations of reality. 4 Many studies on the evolution of ancient Chinese colour terms, which take into consideration the lexical, cultural and social bases, exist. For further details, see Wu 2011: 80-83.


Liu Xie and Chinese Traditional Literary Theory and Criticism

represent a universal experience, or a culturally-specific process, or whether they are, as Kimberly Jameson has put it, “shaped by both panhuman cognitive universals and socio-cultural evolutionary processes” (2005: 294). The diachronic study recently proposed by Wu Jianshe (2011) on the evolution of basic Chinese colour terms reveals how “words and naming progress with the development of society” (2011: 80). Differently to the main theories developed by Berlin and Kay, I would suggest that naming colours is mostly a subjective5 response to an objective phenomenon6 and is thus not a universal process. Colours are waves of lights that are decoded in a very particular way by each eye. Colours have their specific meaning and vary according to cultural and historical context (Saunders and Van Brakel 1997). There is a variety of different approaches to naming colours with theories connected to colour formation and perception being more universal. Naming colours is a very complex process that involves not only linguistic or scientific issues but also culture. The mechanism involved in colour perception is very complex. Colour is a matter of interpretation and translation (latu sensu). In reality, the fact that colours meanings and symbolism are not a universal phenomenon is especially clear to translators. The most paradigmatic case in the Chinese language is the translation of the word qing 青 (analyzed at length elsewhere in this volume by Victoria Bogushevskaya). This aspect is also stressed by Wu Jianshe, according to whom “in modern English and Chinese, the basic colour terms fundamentally corresponding with each other […], they even share the same contrast in hue […]. However, when we turn to the hyponymy of colour/yanse 顔色, two major differences could be detected: 1) the number of hyponyms in Chinese for each basic colour term is larger than that in English, with a few exceptions in term of mixed hue; and 2) most of Chinese hyponyms follow an Object-Basic colour terms configuration in their naming.” (2011: 109). This happens because hyponyms are culturally influential terms and vary from culture to culture. In translation, any colour name actually refers to a group of different values and saturations of the same colour. The colour naming process generalizes the perception of a colour while limiting the actual category. In fact, the general terms of a colour seldom expresses the various degrees of 5

In the sense that is a characteristic of reality as perceived rather than as independent of mind. In this sense, it means that colour perception is basically universal but that the naming of colours is a process peculiar to a particular culture and depends on a culture’s consensus about colour terms. 6 As Saunders and Van Brakel (1997) point out.

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saturation, hue, value, chroma, etcetera of a colour, and they are—even today—better expressed by numbers than by words. When a colour has a specific name, for example, as douyou lü 豆油綠 (lit. bean oil green) or conglü 蔥綠 (lit. ‘growing’ onion green) or shepi lü 蛇皮綠 (lit. snake-skin green)7, it is difficult to understand which colour it represents where it is not culturally contextualized. In the Chinese language, se 色8 (yanse 顔色) is another word normally used to identify colours, while bense 本色 are considered the primary colours and are also defined as zhengse 正色, while secondary colours are defined by the word jianse 間色. The word se 色 has different meanings that range from “visual perception” and “colour” to “face” and even “sex”. Besides the word se 色, cai 采9 is another term associated to colour and literature, and was used in literary criticism before the Six Dynasties even if it was not with the same frequency as in WXDL (Owen 1992: 239). In Chinese literary and philosophical contexts, they are normally linked to the realm of vision, one of the senses of the perceptive sphere that has been considered as the basis of knowledge (zhi 知)10 since very ancient times. In studying early Chinese philosophical texts, Jane Geaney has remarked that, in fact, “hearing and seeing play a unique role in the acquisition of knowledge.” (2002: 50). The basic (or pure) colours in Chinese culture are green/blue, red, yellow, white and black and are organized according to a very complex cosmogonic structure. As we can read in the cosmological theories of the Huainanzi 淮南子, the dualism of yin and yang and their correlated Five Phases results in various forms. It is through these five phases that the ten thousand things take shape and come into being: 7

These, as well as other examples, are found in Needham 2008: 114. See Shuowen rad. 340. Couleur, teint (du visage); mine; air; contenance. Changer de visage; faire paraître sur son visage (un sentiment): Beauté féminine; charme féminin. Convoitise (de la chair); désir charnel, appétit sexuel, volupté luxure. Aspect, apparence, manière d’être, état, paysage, etc.(Grand dictionnaire Ricci 2001: 70). cai 彩, rad. 59-8 couleurs vives. Multicolores; bigarré, bariolé, diaper. Soie multicolores. Éclat, élégance, brillant, éclatant, élégant, orné. (Grand dictionnaire Ricci 2001: 70) 9 This term has a specific meaning when associated to literature and, as suggested by Owen, should be understood as “the capacity to attract and allure the reader” (1992: 239). 10 Xunzi in his chapter “Rectification of Names” says: “That in man by which he knows is (called the faculty of) knowing. That in (the faculty of) knowing which corresponds to (external things) is called knowledge (zhi 知)…form and colour are distinctions made by the eye.”(Fung 1983: 303). 8


Liu Xie and Chinese Traditional Literary Theory and Criticism

animals and plants, minerals from the qi 氣 of five colours, as emerges in chapter four of the Huainanzi 淮南子 (Liu and Major 2012). In fact, the Five Colours reflect the appearance of nature and result from the influence by the Five Elements (wu xing 五行). Furthermore, the creation myths involve colours, as in the case of Nüwa 女 媧 , the goddess with procreative powers after calamities. The Zuozhuan 左轉 “describes the rise of rites, music, government and laws […]. The Five Colours11 lay out in accordance with the appearance of nature: these show with what propriety his articles are made” (Fung 1983: 37). Again in the Zuozhuan as Zi Chan, the great officer, notes: “[…] ‘ceremonials (li 禮) constitute the standard of Heaven, the principle of Earth, and the conduct of man. Heaven, the principle of Earth, and the conduct of man. Heaven and Earth have their standards, and men take these for their pattern, imitating the brilliant bodies of heaven and according with the natural diversities of Earth. (Heaven and Earth) produce the six atmospheric conditions and men make use of the five elements. These conditions produce the five tastes, make manifest the five colours, and make evident the five notes. When these are in excess, obscurity and confusion ensue, and the people lose their original natures” (ibid: 38) – colours are also connected to power. This is the case of the correlative theory attributed to Zuo Yan that divides history according to different phases, each associated to a different element and, consequently, to a different colour.12 The story of colours in China is very long and has evolved epoch by epoch. The use of colours differs from dynasty to dynasty and this is evident from an analysis of the different sources in Chinese literature (see Wu 2011: 84-86, Yao 1988 , Xie 2004). Colours are used in various senses: 11

The Five Colours are normally conveyed as green/blue, yellow, red, white and black. As I show, there are various translations of the main characters used to represent colours and these have varied over time and ever since the oldest canonical texts such as the Yijing 易經, or even before in Oracle Bones Inscriptions or Bronze Inscriptions. 12 The series in this cycle is constituted by Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. In accordance with the natural cosmic pattern of Five Phases put forward by Zou Yan, the Xia Dynasty was green (element: Wood), the Shang were white (element: Metal), the Zhou Dynasty was red (element: Fire), and the Dynasty after the Zhou should be black and as proved to be the case with the Qin Dynasty (element: Water). Finally the Han were yellow (element: Earth). This theory was later elaborated by Dong Zhongshu. This cycle, recalled by Ban Gu (Treatise on Sacrificies), was sustained till when Liu Xiang and his son Xin (Xiu) produced their own theory. For more details on this subject, see De Bary 2008: 189-191.

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in the Shujing 書經 it is suggested that one has to know how to carve before painting, so that colour is something that comes after construction; 13 in the Shijing 詩 經 colours serve as additional ornamentation; and finally, in the Analects Lunyu 論語 colours come only after the base is concluded.14 If in these earlier works colours complete and finalize the decoration, with ornamenting connected to literature as I show in the following chapter, they also symbolize the perpetual movement of the Five Phases and are therefore a dimension connected to rituality. There is a strict connection between colours and adornment/literature defined by Valérie Lavoix as “a blend of colours” (Lavoix 2000: 214). In the WXDL colours are connected to literature/culture as one can read in the chapter entitled yuan dao 原道, “Its Source in the Way” (Owen 1992: 186): “As inner power (de 德), pattern (wen 文) is very great indeed, born together with Heaven and Earth.”15 And how is this? All colours are compounded of two primary colours, purple that is Heaven and brown that is Earth.16 All forms are distinguished through two primary forms, the Earth’s squareness and Heaven’s circularity” (Owen 1992: 187). Stephen Owen comments on this section in saying that “colour and shapes are the two primordial categories for differentiating appearances; both are external manifestations and both belong to the domain of wen 文” (Owen 1992: 188). Owen carefully does not translate the word wen 文, which in fact has 13 In the “Zicai 梓材” (Timber of the Rottlera) chapter of the Shangshu, we read “[…] as in working with the wood of the rottlera, when the toil of the coarser and finer operations has been completed, they have to apply the paint of red and other colours”. Red is considered a pure colour (Legge 2004: 139-140). 14 Zi Xia asked “Her entrancing smile dimpling, her beautiful eyes glancing, patterns of colours upon plain silk. What is the meaning of these lines?” The Master said, “The plain silk is there first. The colours come afterwards.” “Does the practice of the rites likewise come afterwards?” The Master said, “It is you, Shang, who have thrown light on the text for me. Only with a man like you can one discuss the Odes”. As Lau refers in his translation, line one and two can be found in Odes 57 (1992: 21). 15 Liu Xie therefore stresses in an indirect way that literature is very valuable (Owen 1992: 188). 16 Differently, Vincent Shih translates this sentence as “colour-patterns are mixed of black (xuan 玄) and yellow ( huang 黃)…” (Liu 1983: 13). The colour xuan is actually reddish-black (Wang 1996; Wu 2011: 82), while black is hei 黑 and purple is zi 紫 (Wu 2011: 88); huang is yellow (Wu 2011: 80) and brown is liuhuang 騮黃 (Wu 2011: 92). It is difficult however to determine the real correspondence between the name and the colour, especially because naming colours is a process that has changed from epoch to epoch.


Liu Xie and Chinese Traditional Literary Theory and Criticism

different meanings. This question is analyzed in the following paragraphs. He continues by saying that “since the cosmogonic process proceeds by division, all the more complex categories of shape and colour will derive from these two primordial pairs” (ibid), which are the two complementary forces interacting in the dynamic process of creation. Owen continues by commenting that “before the division of Heaven and Earth occurred, there was no shape and no colour; with the moment of division, shape and colour are produced and they are wen” (ibid). That colours are somehow connected to wen is clear, what wen is, is not immediate and needs a deeper analysis and is studied in this paper by crossing Martin Kern’s insight (2001) with Liu Xie’s critical work as a starting point and by revisiting the thesis proposed by Li Wai-yee in her paper (2001).

The dragon carver:17 Liu Xie 劉勰18 (ca. 465-ca. 521) Is Liu Xie a dragon19 carver? If yes, what does he carve? My purpose is not to provide an answer to these questions, which in fact will remain as such, but to try to analyze in what sense one can possibly link the status of a literatus to the profession of carver. Both the literatus and the carver are artisans that create art. Manipulating different materials, they both finally give birth to something new, and transform “nothing” into “something.” These two terms are perhaps better understood if conveyed through the 17

Actually, Liu Xie was never defined as a “dragon carver.” The expression is taken from the Shiji 史記 (Records of the Grand Historian), where Zou Shi is defined as “a dragon carver”, diaolong shi 雕龍奭 (see Sima and Nienhauser, 1994: 187; Lavoix 2000: 216). The categorization of dragon carver in Sima Qian’s Shiji has a pejorative meaning, the same meaning used by Pei Yin while commenting on Liu Xiang. Finally, a positive quotation of “dragon carver” can be found in the Qiao Xuan’s 橋玄 (110-184) quotation “wen fan diao long 文蘩雕龍”, “culture blossoms from dragon carving” (for more details, see also Lavoix 2000: 219). The positive idea of dragon carving as metaphor for belle lettre, refined composition, literary creation was particularly employed by the Tang literati. Liu Xie’s WXDL made a significant contribution to the development of this metaphor during the sixth century (Lavoix 2000: 223-224). 18 There are different interpretations of Liu Xie’s biography, for details see Knechtges 2010: 573-578, Ritcher 2012: 143-160; Cai Zong-qi 2001:1-2; Gibbs 1971 and Holzman 1960, amongst others. 19 Dragons are a very strong symbol of Chinese culture and mainly cosidered a productive force that wields the power of transformation. As stated in the Shuowen jiezi 說文解字 or in Ming works such as the Qianque (ju) leishu 潛確(居)類書 (The classified matters of the Qianque studio) by Chen Renyi 陳仁錫.

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expression “transforming emptiness into solidity”. Liu Xie writes in his thirty-first chapter: “Water by nature is empty [xu 虛], and ripples form in it. The normative form of wood is solid [shi 實], and flowers blossom on it. In both cases the pattern [wen 文] is contingent upon substance [zhi 質].”20 In chapter 31 “qingcai 情采,” translated by Stephen Owen as “Affections and Colourations” (1992: 239), the relationship between wen and shi becomes even clearer in the metaphor “if the tigers and leopards had no patterns, their bare hides would be the same as those of dogs and sheep” (Owen 1992: 240). Following the idea proposed by Liu Xie in this chapter, a literary work [wenzhang 文章] 21 is worthy of being considered as such only if it is “coloured” [cai 采]. As proposed by Stephen Owen, the relation between qing (affections) and cai (colouration) is a dynamic and bipolar relationship. If one reads Liu Xie’s writings in the light of the concepts exposed by Laozi, affections and colouration can be understood as representing yin and yang as the correspondence between the inner and outer qualities of a literary work (wenzhang). Actually, the origin of all things in the universe itself as proposed by the Daodejing becomes something very similar to the process of creating a literary work. They are both circular22 and originate from “emptiness,” and they finally are both associated to a transformative process that implies the harmonious coexistence of opposite forces.23 This correspondence between macrocosm (Heaven) and microcosm (human beings) became an intrinsic part of literary creation with very strong ties to aesthetics24 and artistic creativity at large. Should one analyze the title of Liu Xie’s masterpiece, WXDL, one finds that there is a clear intent by the author to convey a meaning linking wen to diao 雕 (carving) by using a typical Chinese rhetorical

20 This translation is an adaptation of that proposed by Stephen Owen (1992: 240). In both the translations proposed by Vincent Shih (Liu 1983: 337) and Owen, the term xu is translated as “plastic” and “plasticity”, respectively. I decided to keep the original meaning of this word in order to emphasize its contrast with the word “solid” (shi). 21 For a better explication of this term, see also Kern 2001. 22 This circularity in literature can be found in the progression from a dynamic movement that links the image (xiang 象) to the idea (yi 意) and to words (yan 言), a tripartite structure proposed by Wang Bi’s aesthetic theory during the Six Dynasties period (Cai 2000: 5). See also Wagner (2000). 23 Dry and wet, dark and light, weak and strong, yin and yang, consequently wen and diao, etc. 24 On Chinese aesthetics, see Cai (2004).


Liu Xie and Chinese Traditional Literary Theory and Criticism

device: lici 麗辭, parallel phrasing25 (Owen 1992: 255; Plaks 2001: 164; Cai 2001: 11). 26 It seems that Liu Xie was, most probably, the first to introduce a systematic analysis of this kind of rhetorical device (Cai 2001: 11), as he does in the thirty-fifth chapter of his work. Syllogistically following the path proposed by Liu Xie in his critical work, we can affirm that Liu Xie is a “dragon carver” with a cultivated mind, which means that he is an “artisan”, thanks to whom literature takes shape as an artifact. He may be resorting to very sophisticated technical craftsmanship to realize the philosophical and psychological aspects of the tradition (Owen 1992: 185). The parallelism between xin 心27 and diao 雕 conveys the idea of a balance between thought and action, both necessary to jianyan 建言 lit. “construct”/ “build”/“erect words/speech”. In Liu Xie’s understanding, a work of literature is composed in the same way as an adornment is chiselled and as well as the process of actual literary creation (see also Lavoix 2000: 210, 214). The idea of carving was used to convey a positive idea of craftsmanship28 in literature. On the contrary, other authors, e.g. Pei Ziye 裵子野 (469-530) utilized the same idea of carving29 to indirectly 25

Vincent Shih translated it as “linguistic parallelism”, which strays quite far away from the original meaning (Liu 1983: 368). 26 As Andrew Plaks points out, the primary expression for parallelism is li, which was replaced in later critical writings by dui (2001: 166). What is stressed by Plaks is that the primary meaning of li is that of “conjugal pair”, which somehow conveys the harmonic combination of yin and yang in their dynamical and cyclical process of creation and destruction. This was a natural process which, in Liu Xie’s words, was similar to that of the creation of the ten thousand things: “When Creation unfurled the shapes [of things], the limbs of all bodies were in pairs. In the functioning of spirit’s principle, no event occurs alone. And when mind generated literary language, giving thought to all manner of concerns and cutting them to pattern, parallelism was formed by nature, just as [the concepts] of high and low are necessary to one another” (Owen 1992: 255). This assumption that the original meaning of this word li as used by Liu Xie in its verbal function meaning “set in pairs” (Plaks 2001: 166) results in parallelism and is a “vehicle of aesthetic beauty” (Plaks 2001: 171). 27 Xin 心 is actually a concept that cannot be translated plainly into Indo-European languages. This word means the “heart”/mind” and is the basis for both cognition and emotion. Feng Youlan, while quoting Xunzi, described that the mind (heart) of men as being capable of retaining thought, knowledge, emotional desires, etcetera (Fung 1983: 303). 28 Carving, casting metalwork and embroidery especially are activities linked to culture, morality and education (see Kern 2001). 29 In the Diaochong lun 雕蟲論, (Treaty on Carving Insects), as Stephen Owen has stressed, the dragon is an insect but a sublime one (1992: 185): there is therefore a

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criticize Liu Xiang 劉向 (77?–6 B.C.) for his superfluous ornamentation. The criticism here focuses mainly on the old debate between the old and new forms of creating literature and more specifically poetry. Modern scholarship has tried to endow Liu Xie’s creation of the title as explained in the preface of WXDL with a Foucaldian archaeology. As Antje Ritcher has pointed out by quoting Gerárd Genette, the “literary mind”, or “cultivated mind/heart” (wenxin 文心) […] “means to apply one’s mind toward creating literature”, yan wei wen zhi yong xin ye 言為文之用心也 (2012: 89). The idea of “carving/decorating/chiselling” (diao 雕) has been deployed since very ancient times to convey the idea of literature as the result of craftsmanship. Literature as presented by Liu Xie in WXDL provides the bridge between mind and the world (Owen 1992: 205; Egan 2001: 101). The external world plays a central role in literary creation as colours nurture the inner world through the eye.30 Literature is connected to language and language “was not born from the construction of a world, but a world was created from the stimulus of that language” (Eco 2004: 321). Liu Xie knows how to apply language, a requisite that manifests how imagination, although free, “does not give way to anarchy” (Egan 2001: 126). Jianyan 建言, 31 which at the end denotes a mastery of language, draws the borderline of spiritual thought (shensi 神思) or imagination within which xin 心 , the “mind/heart” operates. Literary creation and carving both need a technique (shu 術). Only mastery of the technique— through discipline—ensures success both to the artisan (carver) and the literatus. This means, as Liu Xie himself writes in the Supporting Verse (zan 贊) to chapter 47: “In the field of letters and the garden of brushes, There are techniques and there are gates. clear message that Liu Xie wants to convey in substituting the insect, chong 蟲, by the dragon, long 龍. Valérie Lavoix has suggested the following translation: “Essay about the carving of small worms” (l’essai sur la gravure de vermisseaux, see 2000: 230). 30 The Supporting Verse to chapter 47 reads that: “The mountain in folds with rivers winding, mixed trees where the clouds merge: when the eyes have roamed over them, the mind expresses them […]” (Owen 1992: 286). 31 According to the Daodejing 道德經, chapter 41, there are different grades of mastery of language; those who master the language (lit. those who are considered the sentences-makers/builders, jian yan you zhi 建言有之) are of three kinds: shangshi 上士, scholars of the highest class, zhongshi 中士, scholars of the middle class, and xiashi 下士, scholars of the lowest class.


Liu Xie and Chinese Traditional Literary Theory and Criticism First put your efforts into the overall form; Your reflections must reach all the way to the source. By going with one thing you comprehend all, Getting the essentials controls elaborations. Thought has no predetermined patterns, But natural principle is permanent” (Owen 1992: 277).

The parallelism proposed by Li Wai-yee between “literary mind” and “carving dragons” lies in the relationship between the inner and the outer world, between artifice and naturalness, between yin and yang. According to Li Wai-yee, Liu Xie’s conception of wen, “on the one hand, […] is natural order and an all encompassing system whose basis is the Way and whose highest realization is the moral perfection of the Classics. On the other hand, it […] is elaborateness, intensity, excess and aesthetic surface” (2001: 198-199). Colours, in fact, play a central aesthetic role given their requirement for decorating surfaces. Liu Xie, courtesy name Yanhe 彥和, was most probably born in a region that corresponded to contemporary Jiangsu Province. From the limited data available on his biography, it remains unclear whether he was from a commoner or a gentry family from Dongguan 東 莞 (actual Shandong). His father, presumably Liu Shang 劉尚, was a military officer and served at a relatively high grade, and his grandfather Liu Lingzhen 劉 霛真 was the younger brother of a prominent official in an earlier period. In official sources, such as the Standard History of the Liang,32 Liu Xie gets depicted as a poor man that never married and, in fact, lost his parents, or at least his father, at a very early age. It is not clear why he did not get married. Vincent Yu-chong Shih has suggested his lack of money to support a marriage combined with his interest in Buddhism (Liu 1983: xxix). Indeed, he spent a large part of his youth in the Dinglin 定林 Monastery, where he received his literary education and became known as Huidi 慧地 (religious name). In Zhong Mountain 鍾山, close to the current 32

According to Donald A. Gibbs, the biographical notes are spread among different sources, such as the WXDL itself, which includes a few autobiographical notes in the preface (xuzhi 序 志 , lit. “exposition of intentions”). A more complete biographical portrait can be found in chapter 50 of the Standard History of Liang, and an abbreviated biographical note in chapter 72 of the Standard History of the Southern Dynasties. Antje Richter recently published a complete survey on the so called Preface of the WXDL, crossing all the data on Liu Xie’s biographies available from the standard histories, and came to the conclusion that “Liu Xie not only failed to shed light on his own life and honor his family, but that he deliberately drew attention to these omissions” (2012: 83).

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city of Nanjing, he came into contact with the Buddhist sutras, even while not becoming a monk at that time. In the Monastery, he assisted Sengyou 僧祐 (445-518) in working on various projects by cataloguing, organizing and compiling valuable works from the early Buddhist texts, such as the famous Collection of notes on the translated Tripitaka (Chu sanzang ji ji 出三藏記集). This exercise continued when he was commissioned by Emperor Wu of Liang to edit the Buddhist sutras, and it was at this time, later on in life, that he received permission to become a monk in the same Monastery. Shen Yue 沈約 (441-513), one of the “literary minds” of this period, proved to be another key person in Liu Xie’s life, thanks to him Liu Xie beginning to obtain some of the works33 that brought him into the Liang court. The Standard History of the Liang recorded how Liu Xie, in order to gain literary recognition, gave a copy of the WXDL to Shen Yue. Liu Xie was most probably in his thirties when he composed the WXDL. Only two other works attributed to him are extant: a stele inscription and Mie Huo Lun 滅惑論 Treaty to extinguishing doubts. Some authors also attribute him with a third work, Liuzi 劉子 (Knechtges 2010: 575), however the authorship of this last work is not clear, some researchers believes that the Liuzi was actually written by Liu Zhou 劉晝 (ca. 515- ca. 567) and not by Liu Xie (ibid).

Cultural Memory and Literary Mind: Liu Xie’s Wenxin diaolong 文心彫龍 (The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons) Literary criticism in Imperial China gained a certain visibility during the Liang dynasty – a period when there was a compilation of other important works besides the WXDL, such as Zhong Rong’s Shiping 詩評, Evaluation of Poets.34 Nevertheless, this critical work never gave Liu Xie the fame he probably deserved and he remained a “minor figure” (Owen 1992: 184) in Chinese literature up to the Qing dynasty. In fact, the WXDL and his author did not gain a leading place in the Chinese literary canon. The Chinese literary canon is the lieu “where literature and 33

Owen has pointed out that the great anthology Wenxuan 文選 was compiled under the influence of Liu Xie (1992: 183). 34 It is interesting to note how both works were written by members of migrant families, who were far from the central government and thus probably quite free to write treatises on literary criticism. They both lived in a period when the discussion of literary topics was divided between traditionalists and progressives.


Liu Xie and Chinese Traditional Literary Theory and Criticism

memory meet” (Erll and Nünning 2005: 261). The canon is a dynamic space where cultural memory — a selective one — is (re)presented by a choice of literary works and compiled in literary histories as an embodiment not of culture as a whole but only of high culture. For a very long period of time, the canon represented Confucian ideals and ethical parameters and only creations following these models could enter the pantheon of “literary minds” (wenxin 文35心). Furthermore, whether Liu Xie was or was not a real supporter of Confucian teachings is an issue that is still subject to argument. The approach of Liu Xie is rather syncretic; in fact, throughout his masterpiece, he maintains the essential aspects of both Confucianism and Daoism. As Cai Zongqi has remarked, Liu Xie believed that a sage should above all be a “distinguished author” (2004: 18). Being a “distinguished author” meant having a “literary mind” and, according to Liu Xie, that “mind aims to literary forms” or, alternatively, “to make the mind literary/cultivated/patterned” (Owen 1992: 185). Authors such as Harold Bloom have (1995) presented the canon as a memory-forming process and have explained how the canon played a key role in cultural memory reconstruction (see also Nünning 1996; Grabes 2005). In the specific case of Chinese literature, this nevertheless still represents the memory of the Confucian/neo-Confucian elite. Therefore, especially when a “literary mind” does not respond to parameter-driven models, and therefore breaks with tradition, an author and his work does not always succeed in becoming considered as a canon and for a long time this was the case of Liu Xie. His production in general did not gain much consideration by his contemporaries and was not very influential. Nevertheless the WXDL was read and cited throughout the centuries and both inside 36 and outside China, namely in Taiwan, Korea, and Japan. 35

The character wen 文 is very difficult to translate and conveys different meanings. In this essay, I accept the translation commonly accepted for this work, which is “literature” (see Owen 1992; Liu 1983). As Martin Kern points out in his essay on the semantic evolution of wen and its contribution to the formation of the canon, the first meaning of wen is, quoting the Shuowen jiezi 說文解字, “criss-cross pattern”, cuohua 錯畫 (2001: 43). Kern has stated that a “word like wen, together with whatever meaning can be proposed for it, […] is neither static nor universal […] on the contrary, in its basic openness, which allows it to absorb different meanings according to different circumstances, in other words, to change historically” (ibid). Also, Vincent Yu-chung Shih has underlined the difficulty in translating the word wen, which he has translated as “pattern”, affirming that the term has “no simple English equivalent” and can “signify a wide variety of patterns that envelop all the aspects of the universe” (Liu 1983: 12). 36 Authors like Shen Yue 沈約 (441-513) and Liu Zhiji 劉知幾 (661-721) in his

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According to the Standard of the Liang, his literary collection circulated in the world (Knechtges 2010, 575). It was during the Qing Dynasty that literary criticism began to focus on Liu Xie and his works and it was finally during the 1990s that they began to receive due attention ,37 after which a specific branch of research known as “dragonology” (longxue 龍 學) gradually came into being. The importance of this work in literary criticism is understandable especially as produced during a specific historical period when there was a great interest in aesthetic matters. After the fall of the Western Han, a generalized anxiety around the literary creation process took root. Literature was the mirror of society and began being analyzed in various essays such as Cao Pi’s Lunwen 論 文 (Discourse on Literature), 38 followed by Lu Ji’s Wenfu 文賦 (The Poetic Exposition on Literature), considered one of the pioneering critical works on literature. The WXDL was the result of Liu Xie’s great imagination, creativity, but also mirrored profound speculation on literary criticism. Liu Xie’s fifty-chapter masterpiece may be divided into four main parts: the first one can be considered the fiftieth, the last chapter, in which the author explains the complex structure of his work, the second recognized section runs from chapter one to chapter five (inclusive) where the author conveys the idea of literary evolution; the third one, from chapter six to chapter twenty-five, deals with the different genres of prose and rhyme; and finally the last one, from chapter twenty-six to chapter forty-nine, focuses on the different aspects connected to literary creation.

masterpiece Shitong 史通, The Comprehensive Guide on Historiography, during the Tang period (see Beasley and Pulleyblank 1961). During the Song periods, the calligrapher Huang Tingqian 黃庭塹 (1045-1105) suggested that all writers should have read masterpieces such as Shitong and WXDL, and finally Hu Yinglin 胡應麟 (1551-1602), the Late Ming collector and publisher and an important expert on literature, considered the WXDL of higher quality than the Shitong (Liu 1983: xliii). 37 As Zhang Shaokang’s research points out, by 1992 around 140 books and 2,419 articles had been published on this subject (2001: 227). Moreover, in 1983, the WXDL Association was established in mainland China and thus becoming the first scientific journal entirely dedicated to the WXDL (Wenxin diaolong xuekan 文心 彫 龍 學 刊 /The WXDL Journal, which in 1993 changed its name to Wenxin diaolong yanjiu 文心彫龍研究/Research on WXDL) was published (Zhang 2001: 227-228). 38 All the translations of the titles of these masterpieces on literature are based on Stephen Owen’s translation (1996: 335-361).


Liu Xie and Chinese Traditional Literary Theory and Criticism

The “Sensuous Colours” and Literature The importance and usage of colours in the WXDL has already been outlined by Stephen Owen (1992) not in an essay but through his translation of Liu Xie’s masterpieces. In Liu Xie’s scholarship, emotions and literary expression also imply colour patterns. Since very ancient times, colours have been connected to sound and according to Liu Xie are— together with emotions—the basic patterns for literature. As mentioned earlier, colours, sounds and emotions are related and interlinked in what Wang Bi calls the tripartite system 39 playing the central role in the formation of linguistic form and the content of that form. During the Six Dynasties, the words, sounds and images took on a new form in arts and literature. Moreover, literature and arts followed the order of the universe in this period. Literature, as canonical and/or an expression of high culture production, shares with Heaven the same principle and for this reason reaches the utmost point of aesthetic creation: beauty. In the “qingcai 情采 chapter,” the literary writings are considered literary cai 采, 40 that which the translator Vincent Shih (Liu 1983) has choosen to define as “decorativeness” and what Stephen Owen (1992) has preferred to translate as “colouration.” Martin Kern, in analyzing the word wen linked to literature, stressed that it has different meanings according to the various compounds and, among the various manifestations of the same notion, one may focus on a specific term; wencai 文采 (2001: 47). Wencai, as Kern suggests (2001:240), besides its meaning “patterned ornament”— if one agrees to translate cai as “colour” – “patterned colour”—normally refers to embroidered textiles, at least as proposed in the Shiji 史記, but is also used to designate patterns of music as used in the Liji 禮記. Martin Kern continues by quoting He Yan’s comments on the Analects of Confucius: “zhang 章 is clearly “shining.” The patterned embellishment (wencai 文彩), manifest and appearing, can be followed by the ear and the eye” (2001: 51). For Liu Xie the wencai is connected to what Stephen Owen defines as “the desire that ‘colouration’ be an essential glow on the surface of any inner condition; at the same time, there is the mirroring 39 The tripartite system or, rather, the concept of “trinity” is evident in Laozi’s Daodejing. In chapter 42, we can read: “Dao produced Oneness. Oneness produced duality. Duality evolved into trinity, and trinity evolved into the ten thousand things. The ten thousand things support the yin and embrace the yang. It is on the blending of the breaths [of the yin and the yang] that their harmony depends” (Lau 1989) 40 “The writings of Sages and good men are collectively called ‘literary works’, and what is this but colouration?!” (Owen 1992: 240).

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anxiety that rhetorical ‘colouration’ might be mere ornament and inessential” (1992: 242). There is as a need to transform the outer surface, 41 but this only serves to enhance the true beauty that, in fact, emanates from within (ibid). If true beauty—continues Owen—originates from within, the function of colouration is to enhance it (ibid). Following these examples, one may argue that literature, whether presented through the Daoist approach or the Confucian approach,42 has a strong aesthetic value and that colours (which are considered at the same time synonyms of decoration and embellishment) play a key role in conveying this value. In some way, the WXDL presents the Daoist-Confucian synthesis of the aesthetic understanding. According to Liu Xie, as it emerges in the qingcai 情采 chapter, there are three main patterns set by principle (li 理): xingwen 形 43 文, shengwen 聲文 and qingwen 情文. These are the patterns of colours, sounds and emotions respectively. The number five44 is a fixed number and is present everywhere symbolizing the relation between Heaven and the ten thousand things. It is the “fixed number of the divine principle” (Owen 1992: 241). In fact, the Five Colours generate elegant embroidery, 45 the Five Sounds create ancient music, and the Five 41

The characteristics of the outer nature of things, in our case literature, is expressed by metaphors which are conveyed by very explicit examples such as the decorated skin of a tiger or a leopard or red lacquer, which can also be considered as the skin of an object. See chapter 31 (Owen 1992: 240; Liu 1983: 337). The skin is the outward appearance of something that also has a specific inner nature, both aspects being linked, like yin and yang. Literature, by extension, is something that depends not only on its essential nature but also on its ornamental/external patterns based on a specific cosmogonic process based on the division of Heaven and Earth when shape and colours are produced and considered wen (Owen 1992: 188). 42 Throughout the whole WXDL, Liu Xie’s position is woven between the Confucian canonicity of literary production and the Daoist essence of things susceptible to conveyance by literature. 43 Colours and shape are the basic categories that differentiate appearance; both being the “outer” manifestations of things and belonging to the domain of wen (Owen 1992: 188). 44 The expression “Five Elements” is the translation generally used for the dynamic concept wuxing 五行, which actually should be considered as five interlinked agents or powers which act in accordance with a never-ending cyclical movement of causalities. The five actions are traditionally represented by Water, Fire, Wood, Metal and Soil. The order of these elements is not arbitrary. For more about this topic, see Fung 1983 and Cheng 1997. 45 The embroidery, or more specifically the act of weaving, is fundamental here and evident in the Chinese character used for “canon/classic” jing 經. This character, composed by the radical for “silk”, depicts something evidently connected to


Liu Xie and Chinese Traditional Literary Theory and Criticism

Emotions can be considered the essence of literature (cizhang 辭章). The macrocosm and the microcosm are linked just as an embryo is linked to a mother’s womb and all these processes are the natural results of the manifestation of the shenli 神理 (lit. the Divine Principle). The relationship between literature and colours (colouration) is established in chapter 31 that clearly states that words in themselves hold the essence of aesthetic value. In fact, as Liu Xie continues, when a sage “composes words (lianci 聯辭)” and “forms colourations (jiecai 結采)” […] the aim should be to clarify natural principle (li 理) (Owen 1992: 244) and, in doing so, he aims to clarify the natural principle. The ultimate aim of those who “chisel (wei 謂) and carve (diao 雕) a piece (zhang 章)”, or, in other words, those who create literary works, should be able to balance the pattern (wen 文) (which is coloured) and consequently clarify the natural principle (jiang su ming li 將俗明理) (Owen 1992: 244). “Keep the pattern (wen 文) from destroying the substance (zhi 質 ); to keep breadth [of learning] form engulfing mind; the proper colouration (zhengcai 正46采) will gleam in red and indigo, the interspersed colours will exclude the pink and purple [garish colours]” (ibid). Therefore, colours are a very important part of literary creation, but not any colour can play a key role in the formation of wenzhang. Moreover, not only with colour does the sage compose a literary work because “dense colouration that lacks feeling will always cloy wen we savour it” (Owen 1992: 245). Colours are also the central theme in chapter 46. The expression wuse 物色 is translated by Stephen Owen as “the sensuous colours of physical things” (1992: 277), suggesting that wu 物 actually also extends to the appearances of things (ibid), or as described earlier the “skin” of object. In textiles, while the other elements of this specific Chinese character convey the idea of weaving. This term literally means “lead thread” or “warp”, a fixed frame (which can be considered as a metaphor for tradition) for the entire length of a weaving (the course of history). Michael Nylan has pointed out that jing, a “near homophone of jing 徑, meaning ‘straight path’ or ‘direct route’” (2001: 11-12), besides being the original etymology of the word “classic,” was that of “warp”, which can be better understood when compared to the Indian sutra, that also derives from the idea of “connecting thread,” or to the Latin textus, “woven” (ibid.). For more details on the meaning of classics in Liu Xie’s tradition, read also chapter 2 of the WXDL, zongjing 宗經 (Liu 1983: 31; Owen 1992: 194). 46 As stated in chapter 1 of the WXDL (Liu 1983: 13; Owen 1992: 186), if the pattern does not have the proper colouration that it means that cannot reflect the essence of the Five Elements or the mind of Heaven and Earth (i.e. the Universe). When the colours are not in proper harmony, the balance cannot be created.

Elisabetta Colla


this chapter wu 物 are used by Liu Xie to designate physical objects, meaning, according to Owen, “whatever might be encountered by mind in the spirit journey” (ibid). For its part, se 色, “is not only the surface appearance, it also implies a sensuous, at times sensual allure” (Owen 1992: 277). Therefore, wuse 物色 may be considered as the reality from which the literatus finds his inspiration to compose and create wen. Without se 色, a thing cannot be recognized, and this is clear in chapter 31 with the image of a tiger or a leopard without any “pattern” (hu bao wuwen 虎豹無文) that resembles a dog or a sheep.47 Liu Xie clearly states that in literature ornaments/colours are necessary not only to attract the reader, but also as yin and yang, the two great principles of Heaven and Earth, of the macrocosm and the microcosm. This means that se 色 proves necessary to distinguishing the various forms of the ten thousand things. The literatus is in a constant relationship with the natural world and there is a clear bond between the external world and literature. The external world aids the literatus in the act of writing,48 and in fact “mountain and forests and the marshy banks of the rivers are indeed the secret treasure houses of literary thought” (Owen 1992: 285). To conclude, quoting Liu Xie’s own words, “springs and autumns follow on in succession, with the brooding gloom of dark yin and the easeful brightness of yang. And the sensuous colours of physical things are stirred into moment, so the mind is shaken. When the yang force sprouts [in the twelfth month], the black ant scurries to its hole; and when yin begins to coalesce [in the eighth month], the mantis feasts. It touches the responses of even the tiniest insects: the four seasons stir things deeply into movement. Then, there is the tablet of jade that draws forth the kindly mind, and the splendour of flowers that brings clear qi 氣49 to stand out high xiu 秀. 50 All the sensuous colours of physical things call to one another, and how amid all this may man find stillness?” (Owen 1992: 278). 47 In fact, in this case substance depends on patterning, zhi dai wen ye 質待文也 (Owen 1992: 240). 48 Writing is a fluid act visible when the literatus brings his brush and creates calligraphy, a process that is a conjunction of technical skill, mastery of technique but also an unconscious perception of the Dao 道, the principle of the identity of opposites that is a projection in visual terms of the Chinese mind. 49 Normally translated as “breath”, “air”, “steam” or “gas”; “vital energy”, one of the key concepts in Taoism. 50 Xiu, means sublime, and therefore is superior to beauty, according to Li Zehou “Chinese’s primitive symbolic art and aesthetic sense of the sublime took a very different course from those of India and the West. This course was firmly secular


Liu Xie and Chinese Traditional Literary Theory and Criticism

Acknowledgments I would like to sincerely thank the CECC (Centro de Estudos de Comunicação e Cultura, for financing the International Conference Thinking Colors: Perception, Translation and Representation, Lisbon, 2012. This essay has benefied from the advice and comments of António Barrento. All remaining errors, of course, are my own. Finally, I would like to thank Antje Richter for her generosity.

References Beasley, William Gerald and Edwin G. Pulleyblank. 1961. Historians of China and Japan. London: Oxford University Press. Bloom, Harold. 1995. The Western Canon. The Book and the Schools of the Ages. New York: Riverhead. Cai Zongqi. 2004. Chinese aesthetics: the ordering of literature, the arts, and the universe in the Six Dynasties. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press. Cheng, Anne. 1997. Histoire de la pensée chinoise. Paris. Ed. du Seuil. De Bary, William Theodore. 2008. Sources of East Asian Tradition: vol. 1 Premodern Asia. New York: Columbia University Press. Eco, Umberto. 2004. On Literature. New York: HarcourtBooks. Egan, Ronald. 2001. “Poet, Mind, and World: A Reconsideration of the ‘Shensi’ chapter of Wenxin diaolong”. In Cai Zongqi (Ed.) A Chinese Literary Mind (pp. 101-126). Stanford: Stanford University Press. Fung Yu-lan (Feng Youlan). 1983. A History of Chinese Philosophy, volume 1. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Geaney, Jane. 2002. On the epistemology of the senses in early Chinese thought. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. Gibbs, Donald A. 1971. “Liu Hsieh, Author of the Wen-hsin tiao-lung”. In Monumenta Serica. (29), 117-141. Grabes, Herbert. 2005. Literature, Literary History and Cultural Memory. Tubingen: Gunter Narr Verlag. Grand dictionnaire Ricci de la langue chinoise = Lishi-Hanfa-cidian. Compiled by Institut Ricci. 2001. (vol. 5). Paris: Desclée de Brouwer.

and social, moving first away from the power of the gods and towards human achievement, then away from external achievement and towards inner moral power” (2010: 58).

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Jameson, Kimberly. 2005. “Culture and Cognition: What is Universal about the Representation of Colour Experience?” In The Journal of Cognition & Culture. (5), 293-347. Kern, Martin. 2001. “Ritual, Text, and the Formation of the Canon: Historical Transitions of Wen in Early China”. In T’oung Pao. 87(1), 43-91. Knechtges, David R. and Chang Taiping. 2010. Ancient and medieval Chinese literature: a reference guide. Leiden: Brill. Lau D.C. 1992. Confucious: The Analects (Lun yu). Hong Kong: Chinese University Press. Lavoix, Valérie. 2000. “Un dragon pour emblème – Variations sur le titre du Wenxin diaolong”. In Études chinoises, XIX, (1-2), 197 -247. Legge, James. 2004. The Shu king, or, Book of historical documents. Whitefish, Mont.: Kessinger Publishing. Li Wai-yee. 2001. “Between ‘Literary Mind’ and ‘Carving Dragons’: Order and Excess in Wenxin Diaolong”. In Cai Zongqi (Ed.) A Chinese Literary Mind (pp. 193-225). Stanford: Stanford University Press. Li Zehou and Samei, Maijia Bell trans. 2010. The Chinese aesthetic tradition. Hawai’i: Hawai’i University Press. Liu An and John Major. 2012. The essential Huainanzi. New York: Columbia University Press. Liu Xie. The literary mind and the carving of dragons: A study of thought and patterns in Chinese literature. Translated with an Introduction and Notes by Vincent Yu-chung Shih. 1983. Hong Kong: Chinese University Press. Needham, Joseph. 2008. Science and Civilization in China. Vol. 7: The Social Background. Part 2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Nünning, Ansgar. 1996. “Kanonisierung, Periodisierung und der Konstruktcharacter von Literaturgeschichtsschreibung.” In Nünning, Ansgar (Ed.) Eine andere Geschichte der englischen Literatur: Epochen, Gattungen und Teilgebiete im Überblick. Trier Wissenschaftlicher Verlag. Nylan, Michael. 2001. The five “Confucian” classics. New Haven: Yale University Press. Owen, Stephen. 1992. Readings in Chinese literary thought. Cambridge, Mass: Council on East Asian Studies, Harvard University. Owen, Stephen. 1996. An Anthology of Chinese literature: Beginnings to 1911. New York: W. W. Norton. Plaks, Andrew H. 2001. “The Bones of Parallel Rhetoric in Wenxin diaolong.” In Cai Zongqi (Ed.) A Chinese Literary Mind (pp. 193-225). Stanford: Stanford University Press.


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Richter, Antje. 2007. “Notion of Epistolarity in Liu Xie’s Wenxin diaolong.” In Journal of the American Oriental Society. 127 (2), 143160. Richter, Antje. 2012. “Empty Dreams and Other Omissions: Liu Xie’s Wenxin diaolong Preface.” In Asia Major. 25 (1), 83-110. Saunders, Barbara and J Van Brakel. 1997. “Are there non-trivial constraints on colour categorization?” In Behavioral and Brain Sciences. (20) 167-228. Sima Qian, William H. Nienhauser, and Ssu-ma Cho‘ien. 1994. The grand scribe's records. Vol. 7. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Xie Haijiang 解海江. 2004. Hanyu bianmadu yanjiu 漢語編碼度研究 (A Study on Chinese Codability). Xiamen: Xiamen University (Unpublished PhD dissertation). Yao Xiaoping 姚小平. 1988. “Jiben yanse lilun shupin – jian lun hanyu jiben yansecide yanbianshi 基本顔色理論述評 — 兼論漢語基本顔色 詞的演變史 (Review of basic colour theories and on the evolution of Chinese basic colour terms).” In Waiyu jiaoxue yu yanjiu 外語教學與 研究. (1), 19-28. Wagner, Rudolf G. 2000. The craft of a Chinese commentator Wang Bi on the Laozi. Albany: State University of New York Press. Wang Tao. 1996. “Colour Terms in Shang oracle bone inscriptions”. In Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies. 59 (1), 63-101. Wu Jianshe. 2011. “The evolution of basic colour terms in Chinese”. In Journal of Chinese Linguistics. 39 (1), 76-122. Zhang Shaokang. 2001. “A Survey of Studies on Wenxin diaolong in China and Other Parts of Asia.” In Cai Zongqi (Ed.) A Chinese Literary Mind (pp. 227-234). Stanford: Stanford University Press. Zhang Yujin 張玉金. 2003. Ershi shiji jiaguwen yuyan xue 20 世紀甲骨 文語言學 (Linguistic studies of OBI in the 20th century). Shanghai: Xuelin chubanshe.


Introduction “Colour terms, far from having a mere decorative character, possess a clear signifying value, helping the dramatic construction of such an imagery, and revealing the conceptual framework upon which the whole poem is based.”2

The Iliad is in fact very colourful, with vivid, picturesque images. Whilst Gladstone claims that Homer is colour-blind3, a variety of colours, the story nevertheless draws colour-related adjectives or descriptions. Thus, we may reasonably assume that there is at least colour perception in Homer even if different to our own. The concept of dichotomy as understood in antiquity has been examined, and is represented in colour terms by me/laj (black)4 and leuko/j (white).5 When I delivered this paper, 1

This paper is supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number 60411948. For the Homeric Text, I mainly refer to the OCT, Prendergast’s concordance (1983), Tebben’s concordance (1998), Kirk’s commentary (1985-1993), and Hammond’s translation (1987). All English translations in this paper come from Hammond for the Iliad and the Loeb. Furthermore, the proper names referred to are from Hammond’s translation. 2 Fountoulakis 2004, 115. 3 Gladstone originates the discussion of colour in Homer; Gladstone 1858, 457499; Gladstone 1877, 366-388 (for the brightness, darkness, and shades of grey, see 382ff). See also Kober 1934, 189-191. 4 Accommodating Greek terms into English colour words is also a difficult task; Lyons 1995, 194-224. For example, me/laj is usually rendered as ‘black.’ Cunliffe says “Dark in hue, dark (not necessarily implying the absence of colour, but sometimes translated as ‘black)”; Cunliffe 1924, 260f. I mainly refer to Liddell and Scott, 1996 (9th edition) and Chantraine 1999 (1st 1968). 5 Irwin 1974, 111-203. See also Bruno 1977, 47ff (II Colour); Saito 2007, 9-16, for the contrast between leuko/j and me/laj. The dual association between male and


The Uncertain World of Darkness in The Iliad

this research was still in progress: my original aim was to obtain reactions and feedback from various perspectives about its wider, extended utility in my research on colour in antiquity. Thanks to fellow conference participants, I realised the prospective scope I had in mind was inappropriate to providing precise details in this paper. Instead, I would like to consider some specific Greek terms and suggest future directions for expansion. Hence, among the colour terms, grey, or darkness, is chosen in this paper, as darkness requires recognition as an important feature in the perception of coloured structures.6 Additionally, as far as I know, grey or dark shades have never been paid full attention. Grey proves a very complex colour if considered an actual ‘colour.’ It appears in countless shades from darker grey to brighter grey thereby embracing very vague images, including both positive and negative senses.7 I would like to shed light on the role of the metaphorical function of darkness in the Iliad by examining grey or dark-related colour terms, polio/j, kelaino/j, sko/toj, zo/foj, and kne/faj, which can be classified into the grey, or dark category. 8 Taking them as the main key terms, how they function female is also seen in Catullus; Clarke 2004, 122-125; Fountoulakis 2004, 110-116. 6 Gage 2006, 61. See also pp. 55ff for darkness. Gage’s previous works on colour, including contemporary arts, should not be neglected. See Colour and Culture in 1993, 58ff, 71,119 (“grey was the key to the tonal coherence of the pictorial composition”) 135, 155f, and 205f; Colour and Meaning, 1999, esp. 73ff, 194f, 200, 226f, and 257f. 7 Feisner claims that the colour symbolism of grey is “neither positive nor negative, and implies confusion, loss of distinction (gray area), age (dust, cobwebs, gray hair), intelligence (gray matter of brain), technology, shadows, and work (people in gray suits)”; Feisner 2006, 121. See also p. 39 and p. 158 for grey. Further, see Tresidder 1997, 60. 8 Platnauer divides colour terms into chromatic and achromatic groups, and kelaino/j, me/laj and katakorh/j are categorised in the achromatic group that denotes black. For grey, Platnauer refers to glauko/j, polio/j, and faio/j; Platnauer 1921, 153ff. I excluded glauko/j from my analysis this time because I believe the term is not grey but more likely dark-blue. In Moonwomon’s analysis, dark category words are me/laj, kelaino/j, and kua/neoj. According to Moonwomon, there is no word for ‘dark’ or ‘black’ in the Mycenaean Greek records except kelaino/j and also kelaino/j does not appear outside of Homer and Hesiod in early Greek; Moonwomon 1994, 37-65. For further information on colours in antiquity, see Wallace 1927, esp. 28ff (black, white, dark, or light); Kober 1932, 25-36 (Black), 37-41(Dark), and 4353(Grey), though she does not mention sko/toj, and zo/foj, and kne/faj; André 1949, 42-63 (II – Le Noir) and 64-74 (III – Gris); Young 1964, 42-46; Rowe 1977, 23-54; Fowler 1984, 119-49.

Yukiko Saito


metaphorically in the formulation of the poem’s images during the storyline and how they interlink with each other is subject to discussion and hopefully a picture of the uncovered darkness of the Iliad thereby becomes visualised. The historical view on grey or darkness in colour perception is necessarily referred to very briefly before the Greek colour terms are examined individually. Due to the limited number of words, I shall give only some essential examples of when the darker sense is emphasised by the context.

Colour in Plato and Aristotle I would like to begin with how Plato and Aristotle describe colour as their thoughts are of fundamental importance to later authors. ‘Colour’ was perceived in antiquity. 9 Plato understands that grey is produced from mixing white and black; faio_n de_ leukou= te kai_ me/lanoj.10 Plato deploys faio/j for ‘grey,’ which actually does not appear in Homer. Perhaps Platnauer is right to suggest that faio/j is a word of slightly later derivation.11 Aristotle also acknowledges that grey stems from the mixture of white and black; w3sper to_ leuko_n kai_ to_ me/lan, o3tan mixqe/nta faiou= poih/sh| fantasi/an. 12 In De Colouribus, some Greek words, 9 For colour perception in antiquity, Bear’s work (1906) is very instructive. See also Osborne 1968, 269-283. For the historical development of colour-sense, see Allen 1879, esp. 267ff (Homeric colour-vocabulary); Ellis 1896, 714-729. According to Ellis, “black” means “dark” in Homeric Greece (p. 719). Berlin and Key’s research has been influential and helps in showing the cultural differences; how colour vocabulary was developed. According to their study, grey, as a basic colour term, appears at the last stage of VII. Their theory is:

Stage I: Stage II: Stage III: Stage IV: Stage V: Stage VI: Stage VII:

Dark-cool and light-warm (this covers a larger set of colors than English “black” and “white”) Red Either green or yellow Either green or yellow (, which did not appear at the Stage III) Blue Brown Purple, pink, orange, or grey.

See Berlin and Kay 1969, 4ff. 10 Plato Timaeus 68C; “and “grey” from white and black.” Plato also mentions colour elsewhere in his treatises. 11 Platnauer, 1921, 156. 12 Aristotle De Colouribus 792a 8f; “by mixture such as white and black, which


The Uncertain World of Darkness in The Iliad

sko/toj, skiw/dhj, zo/foj, o1rfnioj, and faio/j that indicate dark, greyish, shadowy, or glooming are applied elsewhere, and polio/j is deployed seemingly for the colour of men’s hair. 13 Aristotle describes colour perception in this treatise, addressing that darkness is not a colour but an absence of light; o3ti de_ to_ sko/toj ou0 xrw=ma a0lla_ ste/rhsi/j e0sti fwto/j14 and that we never see pure colour because such is always mixed with other colours and depends on light and shadow; tw=n de_ xrwma/twn ou0de_n o9rw=men ei0likrine_j oi[on/ e0stin, a0lla_ pa/nta kekrame/na e0n e9te/roij: kai_ ga_r a2n mhdeni_ tw=n a1llwn, tai=j ge tou= fwto_j au0gai=j kai_ tai=j skiai=j kerannu/mena a0lloi=a, kai_ ou0x oi[a/ e0sti, fai/netai.15 As Goethe also presents “[T]he colours are acts of light,”16 colours change according to light. They change what we perceive. According to Goethe, black becomes equivalent to darkness while white represents light and, therefore, grey is “half-shadow, which partakes more or less of light and darkness, and thus stands between the two.”17 Whether a pure colour does or does not exist is another topic, but there is certainly recognition of the countless shades of darkness. Hereupon, I shall attempt to illuminate the world of darkness in the Iliad.

Confusion polio/j Polio/j, grey, grizzled appears 23 times in the Iliad, including compound words, poliokro/tafoj and mesaipo/lioj as follows18: wolf head -

Dolon’s pelt made from a grey wolf [10. 334] (T) Priam [22. 74] (T) Priam [24. 516] (T) chin, beard Priam [22. 74] (T) when mixed give an appearance of grey.” 13 Aristotle, ibid., 798a 23f. 14 Aristotle, ibid., 791b 3f; “One can learn from many facts that darkness is not a colour at all, but merely an absence of light,” 15 Aristotle, ibid., 793b 13ff; “We do not see any of the colours pure as they really are, but all are mixed with others; or if not mixed with any other colour they are mixed with rays of light and with shadows, and so they appear different and not as they are.” 16 Goethe 1970, xxxvii. See also pp. 14-15 (On gray surfaces and objects), 142, and 225f. 17 Goethe, ibid., 103. 18 See also Gladstone 1858, 466; Gladstone 1877, 381; Wallace 1927, 63.

Yukiko Saito


Priam [24. 516] (T) hair of the head, hair Priam [22. 77] (T) temple - the Trojans [8. 518] (T) < poliokro/tafoj > person, person’ s hair Idomeneus [13. 361] (A) < mesaipo/lioj > sea [1. 350] (A), [1. 359] (A), [13. 352] (A), [13. 682] (A), [14. 31] (A), [15. 190] (N/A?), [19. 267] (A), [20. 229] (N), [21. 59] (? B), and [23. 374] (A) [12. 284] (N/B?) and [15. 619] (N?)〈in simile〉 sea [4. 248] (A) iron Achilleus [9. 366] (A) Achilleus [23. 261] (A) *(A) means that the objects or persons referred to are on the Achaian side. (T) means on the Trojan side. (N) means on neither side. (B) means on both sides.

Their referents are a3lj (sea), qa/lassa (sea), si/dhroj (iron), ka/ra (head), ge/neion (chin, beard), qri/c (hair of the head), lu/koj (wolf), kro/tafoj (temple), and me/soj (middle). According to Kober, polio/j proves “the only word used generally in Greek which definitely and uncompromisingly means ‘grey’.”19 They all are easily visualised as grey. Only the expression ‘grey sea’ might sound slightly odd as normally the colour of the sea is expected to be blue 20 even though polio/j most frequently applies to ‘sea’ in the Iliad. On one occasion in the Iliad, polio/j refers to an animal, lu/koj (wolf), whose pelt covers Dolon, one of the Trojans. In fact, he is on a reconnaissance mission gathering information on the enemy, the Achaians. However, on the way to his destination, he is killed by Odysseus and Diomedes. The dark grey colour of Dolon’s pelt suits the context as polio/j strengthens the intense situation and anticipates Dolon’s death. Looking at the other referents, polio/j appears somehow related to the upper part of the human body (e. g., the head and hair), in the case of Priam, the old Trojan king. In book 22, Priam asks Hektor not to face Achilleus (22. 74), but Hektor is not convinced, fights Achilleus, and is 19

Kober 1932, 49-52. However, I obtained a very interesting inquiry from my audience during the conference; grey as a sea colour is not really odd for some cultures, which profoundly inspires me to seek out more about colour perception from the viewpoint of cultural differences. 20


The Uncertain World of Darkness in The Iliad

eventually slain by Achilleus. Priam pulls at his grey hair with his hands (22. 77), which seems to anticipate Hektor’s death.21 Then, in the last book, Priam goes to the camp of Achilleus in secret in order to recover Hektor’s dead body and, in 24. 516, the poet composes a very similar line to 22. 74; oi0kti/rwn polio/n te ka/rh polio/n te ge/neion,. Polio/j appears twice in the line here, which doubles the sense of darkness. Finally, Priam successfully persuades Achilleus and returns to Troy with Hektor’s dead body. Priam’s bravery and cleverness might be deducible here. As grey hair is simultaneously linked with aging and wisdom, 22 we might recognise an interesting connection between polio/j, grey hair, age, and cleverness in a darker sense, which I do not believe is accidental. Grey iron is presented twice in the Iliad and in both instances related only to Achilleus, as part of the booty that he wins in book 9, and polio/j iron being one of the prizes that Achilleus puts up for Patroklos’ funeral games in book 23. In fact, 9. 366 and 23. 261 are identical: a1llon d 0 e0nqe/nde xruso_n kai_ xalko_n e0ruqro_n h0de_ gunai=kaj e0u+zw/nouj polio/n te si/dhron a1comai, a3ss 0 e1laxo/n ge: … … … … (Il. 9. 365-367) “And I shall take with me more gold from here, and red bronze, and finegirdled women and grey iron, all that I have won.”

The poet applies colour epithets to materials as well. Colour-related terms are displayed successively in this scene; xruso/j (gold), xalko/j (bronze), e0ruqro/j (red), polio/j (grey), and si/dhroj (iron), which the poet deliberately employs in order to increase the prevailing tension. Edgeworth is right to suggest that “the use of noticeable bursts of colour serves, like music, to command the attention and manipulate the emotions of the audience, to inveigle them into seeing and feeling an important moment with the brilliance and texture with which its creator wished to endow it.” 23 The poet’s handling of colours is intentional. In addition, 21 Tearing hair with hands is the usual custom for mourning a death; Richardson 1993, 114. 22 “[A]s the colour of gray hair it is linked with wisdom and experience”; Fontana 2010, 116. See also Irwin 1974, 194-196; Tresidder 1997, 95. 23 Edgeworth 1989, 198. In his later work that mainly analyses colours in the Aeneid, there are six major ways to use colours in classical literature; formulaically, functionally, allusively, decoratively, cumulatively, and associatively. Two or more of six ways may be applied simultaneously and clearly those repeated colour elements in rapid succession play an important role; they release the tense or link with other episodes; Edgeworth 1992, 1-2 and 3-5 (on Homer).

Yukiko Saito


according to Vivante, there are no specific words for brown, yellow or grey in Homer, but Homer implies colours when he uses “bronzed,” “golden,” “silver,” and these material describing epithets may be underappreciated. 24 Hence, the colour elements reflect the poet’s actual observation. They are added not because of any metrical requirement but due to the aesthetic purpose of composing the story as beautifully as possible and based on the poet’s own colour recognition. Further, iron metaphorically represents the warrior’s strength,25 thereby the attribution of polio/j iron solely to Achilleus, a main character in the Iliad, indicates how polio/j enhances Achilleus’ hardness of heart and moral courage. The sea is associated with polio/j thirteen times. Can the colour of the sea be grey? Pulleyn, who accepts that polio/j presumably is some sort of grey, suggests that the poet might have in mind “the off-white foam of breaking waves” in his note on 1. 350.26 Perhaps this again depends on light and its angle. The polio/j sea mostly appears during battle as the Achaians and the Trojans fight nearby; 13. 682, 14. 31, and so forth. Furthermore, polio/j is relevant to the divine scenes, e. g., the god rises up from the polio/j sea; 1. 359 (Thetis) and 13. 352 (Poseidon). The polio/j sea is Poseidon’s domain (15. 191). Further, the polio/j sea is located twice in simile; in book 12, the stones hurled relentlessly between the Achaians and the Trojans are likened to the ceaseless snowflakes that Zeus lets fall on the polio/j sea: tw=n d 0, w3j te nifa/dej xio/noj pi/ptwsi qameiai_ h1mati xeimeri/w|, o3te t 0 w!reto mhti/eta Zeu_j nife/men, a0nqrw/poisi pifausko/menoj ta_ a4 kh=la: koimh/saj d 0 a0ne/mouj xe/ei e1mpedon, o1fra kalu/yh| u9yhlw=n o0re/wn korufa_j kai_ prw/onaj a1krouj kai_ pedi/a lwtou=nta kai_ a0ndrw=n pi/ona e1rga, kai/ t 0 e0f 0 a9lo_j polih=j ke/xutai lime/sin te kai_ a0ktai=j, ku=ma de/ min prospla/zon e0ru/ketai: a1lla te pa/nta ei1lutai kaqu/perq 0, o3t 0 e0pibri/sh| Dio_j o1mbroj: ( Il. 12. 278- 286) “Like the flakes of snow which fall thick on a winter’s day, when Zeus the counselor has begun to snow and reveals his weaponry to mankind: he stills the winds and pours down a fall without ceasing, until he has covered the peaks of the high mountains and the sharp headlands and the plains where clover grows and the rich fields of men’s farming: and along the grey sea it piles on inlets and capes, though the waves beating in on it can keep it back: 24

Vivante 1982, 124 (Materials and colour). See also Vivante’s discussion on colour epithets at pp. 122- 126. 25 Edwards 1987, 112 and 167. 26 Pulleyn 2000, 214.


The Uncertain World of Darkness in The Iliad all else is enfolded from above, when Zeus’ shower falls heavy.”

In book 15, the simile exhibits the Achaians as an immovable, huge cliff on the polio/j sea, facing the shrill winds and rising waves that are compared to Hektor’s attack: a0ll 0 ou0d 0 w{j du/nato r9h=cai ma/la per meneai/nwn: i1sxon ga_r purghdo_n a0rhro/tej, h0u5te pe/trh h0li/batoj mega/lh, polih=j a9lo_j e0ggu_j e0ou=sa, h3 te me/nei lige/wn a0ne/mwn laiyhra_ ke/leuqa ku/mata/ te trofo/enta, ta/ te prosereu/getai au0th/n: (Il. 15. 617-21) “But even so, for all his fury, he could not break through. They closed walllike against him and stood their ground, like a huge sheer cliff at the edge of the grey sea, which stands against the shrill winds on their rapid pathways and the waves that swell large and burst on it.”

The sense of ceaseless, uncertain confusion is symbolised by polio/j, which serves to darken or brighten the context, such as the unsteady sea. It seems that polio/j could cover various ranges of shades, from darker grey to lighter grey, as it connotes both positive and negative senses. It is confused and ambiguous. This uncertainty rather represents the metaphorical function of polio/j. Additionally, we should not neglect the word arrangements in which the poet applies polio/j to highlight the contrast between the positively-narrated Achaians and the negativelynarrated Trojans, which remarkably parallels the storyline of the Iliad; the Trojans lose in the end. As we investigate other dark colours below, we elucidate the poet’s consistent artifice when organising colour terms.

Divine-related kelaino/j Kelaino/j, black, dark, murky, etc., is also presented 23 times in the Iliad, including the compound word kelainefh/j, as follows27: kelaino/j blood - Agamemnon [1. 303] (A) the Achaians [7. 329] (A) Eurypylos [11. 828] (A) Eurypylos [11. 845] (A) leather - Hektor’s shield [6. 117] (T)28 27

See Wallace 1927, 59f. Kirk recognises this as a “black skin”; Kirk 1990, 170. Postlethewaite’s note says “the dark ox-hide”; Postlethwaite 2000, 99. 28

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night -

covering Aineias [5. 310] (T) covering Hektor [11. 356] (T) earth [16. 384] (?T)〈in simile〉 storm, hurricane – Nestor’s dynamism on the battlefield in youth [11. 747] (A) 〈in simile〉 wave the Achaians’ confused minds [9. 6] (?A) 〈in simile〉 kelainefh/j blood - Menelaos [4. 140] (A) Diomedes [5. 798] (A) Hektor [14. 437] (T) Sarpedon [16. 667] (T) Achilleus [21. 167] (A) father (Zeus) – [21. 520] and [22. 178] Son of Kronos – [1. 397], [6. 267], [11. 78], and [24. 290] Zeus [2. 412] Miscellaneous: most glorious - [2. 412] greatest - [2. 412] dweller in heaven - [2. 412] master of the bright lightning – [22. 178] As we can see above, kelaino/j is assigned to: ai[ma (blood), de/rma (skin, hide), lai=lay (storm, hurricane), ku=ma (wave), nu/c (night), and xqw/n (earth). Kelainefh/j applies also to ai[ma, but the other kelainefh/j occurrences generally describe Zeus 29 ; Ze/uj (Zeus), Kroni/wn (son of Kronos), ku/distoj (most glorious), me/gistoj (greatest), path/r (father), ai0qe/ri nai/wn (dweller in heaven) and a2rgike/raunoj (master of the bright lightning). Again at a glance, these might all be dark. Certainly, the darkness implies the absolute awesome power of Zeus. According to Irwin, kelaino/j is similar to me/laj as kelaino/j seems to have a connection with 29

Cunliffe clearly states that kelainefh/j is “(1) (The) god of the black cloud. Epithet or a name of Zeus”; Cunliffe 1924, 222. It is likely that kelainefh/j has been recognised mainly as the representation of Zeus. Leaf also notes on kelainefe/j at 2. 412, suggesting “god of the black cloud”; Leaf 1900, 80. See also Griffin 1980, 171f.


The Uncertain World of Darkness in The Iliad

“spotted, stained.”30 Kelaino/j is used within simile three times; as earth, storm, and wave. In book 16, the loud galloping of the Trojans horses is likened to Zeus pouring down the most violent rain so that the dark earth is burdened under a storm. In book 11, when still young, Nestor attacked his enemies like a dark hurricane. I agree with Irwin’s suggestion that “people in a threatening mood are compared to a “dark storm,” in a double characterization.”31 At the beginning of book 9, the minds of the Achaians are confused and in turmoil like a dark, swollen wave in the sea. We here receive a visual image; the darkness of the swollen wave strengthens the mental distress. There are two occurrences of kelaino/j dark night in the Iliad and both cover the Trojans’ eyes. Furthermore, Aineias is hit by a boulder thrown by Diomedes in book 5: … … … … … … … … … … au0ta_r o3 g 0 h3rwj e1sth gnu_c e0ripw_n kai_ e0rei/sato xeiri_ paxei/h| gai/hj: a0mfi_ de_ o1sse kelainh_ nu_c e0ka/luye. (Il. 5. 308-10) “The hero dropped to his knees and stayed there, leaning with his heavy hand on the earth: and black night covered over his eyes.”

Aphrodite rescues Aineias and so he survives on this occasion. In book 11, we encounter almost the same expression with Hektor’s eyes being covered with the dark night of kelaino/j: 3Ektwr d 0 w]k a0pe/leqron a0ne/drame, mi/kto d 0 o(mi/lw|, sth= de_ gnu_c e0ripw_n kai_ e0rei/sato xeiri_ paxei/h| gai/hj: a0mfi_ de_ o1sse kelainh_ nu_c e0ka/luyen. (Il. 11. 354-6) “Hektor quickly ran a great way back to join the mass of his men, then dropped to his knees and stayed there, leaning with his heavy hand on the earth: and black night covered over his eyes.”

Diomedes’ spear then hits Hektor but he later returns to his senses, jumps into his chariot, and escapes the black doom (11. 360: kh=ra me/lainan). The formulaic phrase that dark (night) covers the eyes of warriors appears elsewhere in Homer and implies they die, as discussed further in the next section on sko/toj. Perhaps the Trojans’ fate is foreshadowed by here associating the kelaino/j night exclusively with the Trojans. 30

Irwin 1974, 219. See also Kober 1932, 37-39 for kelaino/j. Irwin 1974, 197. There are three occasions of dark storm, including 11. 747, in the Iliad; e0remno/j in 12. 375 and 20. 51. 31

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Blood (ai[ma) is most often accompanied by kelaino/j.32 Let us take two instances: tw=n d 0 a1llwn a3 moi/ e0sti qoh=| para_ nhi6 melai/nh|, tw=n ou0k a1n ti fe/roij a0nelw_n a0e/kontoj e0mei=o: ei0 d 0 a1ge mh_n pei/rhsai, i3na gnw/wsi kai_ oi3de: ai]ya/ toi ai[ma kelaino_n e0rwh/sei peri_ douri/. (Il. 1. 300-303) “But as for the other possessions I hold by my fast black ship, you will not take and carry away any one of them without my will. Come, try, if you wish, to make it clear to all: in an instant your dark blood will drip from my spear.” e9zo/menoj d 0 e0pi_ gou=na kelainefe_j ai[m 0 a0pe/messen: au]tij d 0 e0copi/sw plh=to xqoni/, tw_ de/ oi9 o1sse nu_c e0ka/luye me/laina: be/loj d 0 e1ti qumo_n e0da/mna. (Il. 14. 437-439) “[Hektor] … sat up on his heels vomiting dark blood. And then he sank backwards to the earth again, and black night covered over his eyes, his spirit still overcome by the blow.”

Achilleus and Agamemnon quarrel over the booty they have won and Achilleus decides to withdraw from the battle because of Agamemnon’s arrogance and unfairness. Then, in book 1, Achilleus threatens that Agamemnon’s kelaino/j blood will drip from his spear. We could also see a black (me/laj) ship in 1. 300. In book 14, Hektor, injured, vomits his dark blood then black (me/laj) night covers his eyes. As mentioned above, Hektor’s eyes are covered by dark night (kelaino/j and me/laj) in book 11, which perhaps foretells of his ultimate death. Blood is often associated with me/laj in the Iliad.33 What is the colour of kelaino/j blood? Black or red? Or, does it indicate ‘colour’? In the standard Japanese view, blood is usually described as red, aka-i, in colour. Pulleyn provides a suggestive comment on ai[ma kelaino_n in his note on 1. 303; deoxygenated venous blood is a very dark colour and oxygenated arterial blood is bright red, thus the difference in terminology for blood might reflect actual observation.34 The characters who possess dark blood with kelaino/j are all male, mortals: Agamemnon, the Achaians 32

For blood-imagery in later poetries, see Musurillo 1961, 69ff. Il. 4. 149, 7. 262, 10. 298, 469, 11. 812, 13. 655, 16. 529, 20. 470, 21. 119, 23. 806, and 18. 583. Interestingly, all of me/laj blood applies to male characters. For the colour of blood, see Irwin 1974, 74f., 138, and 191. Xlwro/j is applied to blood in later poetry. See also Fountoulakis 2004, 113. 34 Pulleyn 2000, 205. See also Wallace 1927, 18f. According to Wallace, the colour of fresh blood is e0ruqro/j but the blood exposed to air is foi/nioj. 33


The Uncertain World of Darkness in The Iliad

(unspecified), Eurypylos (2x), Menelaos, Diomedes, Hektor, Sarpedon, and Achilleus. The story of the Iliad mainly narrates episodes from the Trojan War between the Achaians and the Trojans, and we automatically presume that scenes with the blood of warriors flowing will feature during the story. However, why does the poet not describe the blood of any females as with darkness? Why not immortals? For the meanwhile, and at the least, we may fairly claim that the poet must have perceived the colour or light, since the occurrences of kelaino/j blood are solely assigned to male, mortal characters. Further, as we observe from the appearances of polio/j, the poet applies kelaino/j differently between the Achaians and the Trojans; the entire context of the Trojans’ kelaino/j blood largely fosters a darker sense. On the contrary, the Achaians’ kelaino/j blood provides a slight positive sense to the context even though the entire context is shrouded in darkness. Eurypylos’ pain is healed. Menelaos, Diomedes, and Achilleus do not leave the battle immediately even after being wounded, while Hektor is carried away from the battlefield. Moreover, we should notice that Achilleus treats the kelaino/j blood actively; although the blood of other characters spurts, Achilleus, whose blood also flows in book 21, rather aims to let Agamemnon’s dark blood spurt in book 1. The poet not only demonstrates his aesthetical skill in composing the dual association of describing the Achaians and the Trojans but also depicts the distinguishing character of Achilleus while handling the same colour term, kelaino/j. This idea is reinforced as we address kelainefh/j, which features Zeus as dark-clouds. Presentations of kelainefh/j would seem associated with power, or divinity, whereby some awesome sense is supplied to the context. Aside from the scenes of divine discourse, the context of kelainefh/j is involved with prayers to Zeus. Among these prayer scenes, Achilleus’ own special means of handling kelainefh/j is once again noticeable. Achilleus asks Thetis to entreat Zeus for him in book 1 in the hope that Zeus still feels obliged to Thetis because of her previous service to Zeus. However, other characters deploying the word kelainefh/j do not even ask any other third person to entreat Zeus (Agamemnon in book 2, the Trojans in book 6 and 24). This also conveys the poet’s intention to distinguish Achilleus from the other mortal characters in employing a different arrangement of kelainefh/j. To sum up, all appearances of kelaino/j are not random but rather carefully chosen to dramatise the moment of the scene, mostly darkening the situation. After all, the Iliad characters linked to kelaino/j are Agamemnon, the Achaians (unspecified), Eurypylos, Menelaos, Diomedes, Hektor, Sarpedon, Achilleus, and Zeus. One immortal and all the rest men. Again, why no females? Might this be because the feminine colour is

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brighter? I am inclined to consider kelaino/j as more likely negative, covering darker shades than polio/j, though not entirely negative as it produces both positive and negative senses depending on the context. Thereupon, kelaino/j is probably not exactly ‘black’ but a very dark colour, close to me/laj. Further, kelaino/j likely holds divine, portentous Zeus related connotations. The poet also presents a contrast between the Achaian context, tending to be active, while that of the Trojans is passive. The characters covered with something dark are always Trojans. As with polio/j, the passively-described Trojans and the actively-described Achaians portrays the parallel along the storyline and the shades of grey running from darker (negative Trojans) to brighter (positive Achaians). Therefore, colours, including lights or shades, are perceived by the poet while composing his story.

Death-invited sko/toj When sko/toj, darkness,35 appears in the Iliad, it is always connected with death, except on one occasion when Boukolion is born in book 6.36 There are 16 occurrences of sko/toj in the Iliad, and the formulations of those lines are basically very similar, such as sko/toj covering a warrior (a warrior’s eyes), e. g., to_n de_ sko/toj o1sse ka/luye(n).37 One might want to say that the sko/toj lines are formulated as such in keeping with the hexameter’s role. However, considering those occasions closely unfolds the poet’s technical skill in constructing his story. Let us examine who kills who, when sko/toj covers the warrior’s eyes.


Cunliffe 1924, 362. 6. 24; presbu/tatoj geneh=|, sko/tion de/ e9 gei/nato mh/thr: This line is very different from other sko/toj appearances. While the other fifteen instances of sko/toj imply a warrior’s death, here Boukolion is born, but “in secret.” Because of the illegitimacy, sko/toj ‘in darkness’ here symbolically implies, ‘not in open,’ ‘in secret.’ See Leaf 1900, 260 (“by a secret amour’); Kirk 1990, 158. 37 Kirk 1990, 92; the formulaic phrase “usually implies dying rather than fainting.” According to Tarrant, sko/toj “can be semi-figurative of the darkness of death”; Tarrant 1960, 182. For “dark night,” see Irwin 1974, 159ff. Me/laj applies for night most frequently. Death is described as a dark night that overwhelms the eyes elsewhere, which makes an interesting contrast with “to live,” i.e., “to see the light of the sun.” See also Griffin 1980, 91f; Morrison 1999, 129-144. 36

The Uncertain World of Darkness in The Iliad


killed 4. 461 4. 503 4. 526 5. 47 6. 11 13. 575 13. 672 14. 519 15. 578 16. 316 16. 325 16. 607 20. 393 20. 471 21. 181

(A warrior who is covered by sko/toj)


Echepolos (T) Demokoön (T) Diores (A) Phaistos (T) Akamas (T) Adamas (T) Euchenor (A) Hyperenor (T) Melanippos (T) Amphiklos (T) Maris (T) Laogonos (T) Iphition (T) Tros (T) Asterpaios (T)

Antilochos (A) Odysseus (A) Peiros (T) Idomeneus (A) Aias (A) Meriones (A) Paris (T) Menelaos (A) Antilochos (A) Meges (A) Thrasymedes (A) Meriones (A) Achilleus (A) Achilleus (A) Achilleus (A)

The warriors covered by darkness sko/toj are mostly Trojans, except for two cases in 4. 526 and 13. 672 when Peiros and Paris successfully kill Diores and Euchenor. However, Peiros gets slain by Thoas immediately afterward in book 4. Almost always, Trojans are killed by Achaians, which parallels the storyline of the Iliad; the Trojans lose in the end. Again, sko/toj plays the role of foreseeing the Trojans’ doom for the audience; they can expect Trojan deaths. In addition, towards the end, Achilleus is involved with covering sko/toj’ on three occasions. The sense of darkness rises as the end approaches. This death-related sko/toj, which symbolically shades the context as well, should not be disregarded as merely an insignificant formulaic embellishment. The darkness’ covering betokens the negative scenario awaiting the Trojans. Here, we now consider how the dark colour terms are organised by the poet. In book 5, Aineias’ eyes are covered by kelaino/j night, and again Hektor’s eyes are enveloped. Furthermore, me/laj night covers Hektor’s eyes in 14. 439 as we have seen above. However, Aineias and Hektor do not die after this night falls on them. In fact, Aineias is rescued by Aphrodite. The covering by the dark night does not also prove fatal for Hektor. Somehow they both escape doom at that time. What we may deduce here is that sko/toj is employed when the warrior actually dies at that time but when the poet does not let the warrior die, either kelaino/j or

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me/laj gets applied for the line. 38 This operates by overturning the audience’s expectation. 39 If ‘the darkness covers …’ or a similar line occurs, we might predict the man’s death. However, the poet sometimes intentionally betrays the audience’s expectation and surprises them. The warrior does not always lose his life but occasionally survives due to being rescued or simply revived, thus the poet more deeply intrigues the audience as they follow the story. Thus, by manipulating the colour terms and arranging the same or very similar phrases, the poet also devises ways to compose his plot in order to attract the audience’s attention and in which sense colour terms are never random repetitions.

Gloom world dwelled into zo/foj Zo/foj, nether darkness, gloom, darkness, occurs four times in the Iliad and every time h0ero/eij, cloudy, murky, accompanies zo/foj; 12. 240, 15. 191, 21. 56, and 23. 51. We may thereby regard zo/foj and h0ero/eij as a set with all the appearances seeming suitable to their contexts. Hektor rejects Poulydamas’ prophecy suggesting the Trojans should stop fighting the Achaians, stating in book 12 that he cares not whether birds fly to the right or to the left:40 pei/qesqai, tw=n ou1 ti metatre/pom 0 ou0d 0 a0legi/zw, ei1t 0 e0pi_ deci/ 0 i1wsi pro_j h0w= t 0 h0e/lio/n te, ei1t 0 e0p 0 a0ristera_ toi/ ge poti_ zo/fon h0ero/enta. (Il. 12. 238-240) “I have not thought for them, I care nothing for them, whether they fly to the right towards the east and the sunrise, or to the left towards the western darkness.”

The Trojans then agree with Hektor. Achilleus is surprised to see Lykaon again because Lykaon was supposed to have been consigned to the murky darkness below in book 21 (au]tij a0nasth/sontai u9po_ zo/fou h0ero/entoj, in 21. 56), and Patroklos, being dead, is described as going to the murky darkness of the underworld in book 23:


The other occurrences of me/laj night more likely indicate a timeline for the end of the day. Instead, the other formulaic phrase with cloud (ne/foj), “the black cloud of sorrow envelopes …” could be concerned as anticipating the warrior’s death, or something unfortunate; 4. 277, 16. 350, 17. 591, and 18. 22. For dark clouds, see Irwin 1974, 85ff., 107, and 170-3; Edwards 1987, 112f. 39 Morrison 1999, 139f. 40 Leaf’s discussion on the direction of zo/foj; Leaf 1900, 542.


The Uncertain World of Darkness in The Iliad h0w=qen d 0 o1trune, a1nac a1ndrw=n 0Aga/memnon, u3lhn t 0 a0ce/menai para/ te sxei=n o3ss 0 e0pieike_j nekro_n e1xonta ne/esqai u9po_ zo/fon h0ero/enta, o1fr 0 h1toi tou=ton me_n e0pifle/gh| a0ka/maton pu=r qa=sson a0p 0 o0fqalmw=n, laoi_ d 0 e0pi_ e1rga tra/pwntai. (Il. 23. 49- 53) “But in the morning, Agamemnon, lord of men, urge your people to gather in wood and bring all that a dead man should have on his journey to the murky darkness below, so that the tireless fire can soon burn him away from our sight, and the men go back to their duties.”

In book 15, Poseidon explains how he ended up living in the polio/j sea, and Hades, in the dark underworld: trei=j ga/r t 0 e0k Kro/nou ei0me_n a0delfeoi/, ou4j te/keto 9Re/a, Zeu_j kai_ e0gw/, tri/tatoj d 0 0Ai5dhj, e0ne/roisin a0na/sswn. trixqa_ de_ pa/nta de/dastai, e3kastoj d 0 e1mmore timh=j: h1toi e0gw_n e1laxon polih_n a3la naie/men ai0ei_ pallome/nwn, 0Ai5dhj d 0 e1laxe zo/fon h0ero/enta, Zeu_j d 0 e1lax 0 ou0rano_n eu0ru_n e0n ai0qe/ri kai_ nefe/lh|si: (Il. 15. 187-192) “There are three of us brothers borne to Kronos by Rhea, Zeus, I, and the third is Hades, lord over the dead. All the world was divided into three parts, and each of us received his portion. When the lots were cast, I drew the grey sea as my domain for ever, and Hades drew the murky darkness below, and Zeus drew the broad sky among the clouds and the upper air.”

Clearly, zo/foj is intimately connected to the underworld, which is certainly dark. Additionally, Poseidon’s domain is grey, polio/j sea with Zeus in a perhaps clear heaven. The images of those three gods are thus pictured by colour. Therefore, zo/foj, whose dark sense is enhanced by h0ero/eij, would seem to interact with the world underneath.

Time marker kne/faj Kne/faj, darkness, evening dusk, twilight,41 appears seven times in the Iliad, and is ornamented with i9ero/j, holy, three times: 11. 194, 11. 209, and 17. 455. In book 11, Zeus orders Iris to tell Hektor that he will grant Hektor power: au0ta_r e0pei/ k 0 h2 douri_ tupei_j h2 blh/menoj i0w|= ei0j i3ppouj a3letai, to/te oi9 kra/toj e0gguali/cw ktei/nein, ei0j o3 ke nh=aj e0u+sse/lmouj a0fi/khtai


“The evening dusk, the shades of night”; Cunliffe 1924, 231.

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du/h| t 0 h0e/lioj kai_ e0pi_ kne/faj i9ero_n e1lqh|. (Il. 11. 191- 194) “But when a spear-hit or arrow-shot sends Agamemnon to mount his chariot, then I shall grant Hektor the power to go on killing until he reaches the well-benched ships and the sun sets and the holy darkness comes on.”

So Iris does not fail to do so in 11. 209, which is the same line. The poet deploys again the same line in book 17: … … … … … e1ti ga/r sfisi ku=doj o0re/cw, ktei/nein, ei0j o3 ke nh=aj e0u+sse/lmouj a0fi/kwntai du/h| t 0 h0e/lioj kai_ e0pi_ kne/faj i9ero_n e1lqh|. (Il. 17. 453-455) “because I shall still give the Trojans glory, to keep on killing until they reach the well-benched ships and the sun sets and the holy darkness comes on.”

Here, Zeus, pitying the horses, puts strength in their knees and hearts, and reiterates what he will do, i.e., giving glory to the Trojans until they reach the Achaian ships. Hainsworth also notices the repeated lines and comments that kne/faj is i9ero/j only emerges in the echoed line. 42 Surprisingly, the darkness is somehow attended by ‘holy,’ though normally light or morning is associated with the sacred. However, those three instances of kne/faj i9ero_n are related to Zeus, who controls everything. When Zeus states darkness is holy, so be it. Iris only repeats his words as ordered and so we basically should note that kne/faj i9ero_n is associated with Zeus alone. The four other instances of kne/faj without epithets take place in 1. 475, 2. 413, 8. 500, and 24. 351. In book 1, Chryseïs is returned to her father Chryse by Odysseus and his men, then the Achaians go to sleep after the feast involving both food and music: ]Hmoj d 0 h0e/lioj kate/du kai_ e0pi_ kne/faj h]lqe, dh_ to/te koimh/santo para_ prumnh/sia nho/j: h]moj d 0 h0rige/neia fa/nh r9ododa/ktuloj 0Hw/j, kai_ to/t 0 e1ptit 0 a0na/gonto meta_ strato_n eu0ru_n 0Axaiw=n: (Il. 1. 475-478) “When the sun sets and darkness came on, they lay down to sleep beside the ship’s stern-cables. Then, when early-born Dawn appeared with her rosy-fingers, they put out to sea to return to the broad Achaian camp.”

In book 8, Hektor announces they should all stop fighting, as darkness was coming, and prepare their supper: a0lla_ pri_n kne/faj h]lqe, to_ nu=n e0sa/wse ma/lista in 8. 500. Priam and his heralds, who are on their way 42

Hainsworth 1993, 246. See also Leaf’s examination on i9ero/j; Leaf 1900, 592.


The Uncertain World of Darkness in The Iliad

to secretly visit Achilles’ hut, stop around the tomb of Ilios as darkness falls over the earth: e0n potamw=|: dh_ ga_r kai_ e0pi_ kne/faj h1luqe gai=an. in 24. 351. On the whole, kne/faj functions as a signifier of time.43 When kne/faj comes, we all presume that something stops for a while and that something else is about to occur. In book 2, for example, Agamemnon prays to Zeus: “Zeu= ku/diste me/giste, kelainefe/j, ai0qe/ri nai/wn, mh_ pri_n e0p 0 h0e/lion du=nai kai_ e0pi_ kne/faj e0lqei=n, pri/n me kata_ prhne_j bale/ein Pria/moio me/laqron (Il. 2. 412-3) “Zeus, greatest and most glorious, lord of the dark clouds, dweller in heaven, grant that the sun should not sink and the darkness come on before I have thrown Priam’s palace headlong to the ground…”

Kne/faj contributes to defining the timeline in the Iliad, and of course introduces tints of dark colour to the context. One possibly provocative point I would like to reiterate before my conclusion is that not many women are connected with dark colour terms. Maybe only Thetis can be barely regarded as related to darkness through polio/j when Achilleus asks Thetis to go to Olympos and she actually rises up from the polio/j sea in book 1. However, Thetis is immortal. Additionally, Iris uses the word kne/faj as a messenger from Zeus in telling how Hektor would be given victory until the holy darkness comes (11. 194). Iris is also immortal, however, and in this case merely repeating the words of Zeus. Hekabe and Athene actually speak of kelainefh/j. Zeus is Athene’s father, so it is natural for Athene to call Zeus path/r. Hekabe, having a golden (xru/seoj) cup of wine, prays to Zeus, kelainefh/j, hoping for Priam’s successful return. In fact, no female, even among the immortals, physically possesses anything dark. Would it be possible to claim that those colour terms imply masculine colour, in the same way that even today, black or dark shades of colours are more commonly associated with boys? This point of view awaits confirmation when a subsequent and sufficient consensual outcome on other Greek colour terms is achieved. Nevertheless, the poet clearly applies dark colour terms to males more than females. Even when the terms are brighter or darker shades in their respective contexts, they all represent a darker, negative tint. Hence, within the dark shades of a grey canvas, men fight on the battlefield without fully knowing what is going on as grey symbolises confusion or uncertainty. 43

Richardson 1993, 310; Postlethwaite 2000, 126 and 300.

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Men are incapable of making things clear and live in a very dark grey zone as in modern times. I would like to propose that men tend to be related to dark colours, remaining vague. On the contrary, females, who generally prefer the clarity of black and white, may eventually be proven to be associated with brighter colours. This would expand into gender, social, or cultural research exploring how colour terms have been utilised between women and men, from culture to culture, through different generations. Taking account of Bradley’s argument on the meaning of colour as socially, morally, and politically vital information, the manipulation of colours informs the individual’s social or cultural background. The colour that individuals are connected with is a significant factor in unveiling her/his characteristics. For instance, the process of assessing a person’s identity instantly starts with the colours s/he wears. 44 In this respect, colour may also prove deceptive. This approach is certainly linked with our current judgements. Therefore, in the imaginable dark-colour-based world, males filled with uncertainty about their futures are fighting within a shadowy, grey zone, as I have illustrated. At the same time, the poet’s sophisticated device in controlling his words is signified; he selects those dark colours for men more than for women, discerning between the darker shades. One might want to claim this point of view falls into the inventive. However, I would rather like to stress the importance of subtle insights into colour perception, quoting Pulleyn’s words; “[P]art of the pleasure of reading Homer (or any other work of literature) lies in the balance between the details which the author describes explicitly and those which the reader must imagine for himself.”45

Conclusion; The Dark World in The Iliad How could we possibly string them all together, those grey, dark colour terms in the Iliad? Confused polio/j, divine-related portentous kelaino/j, death-invited sko/toj, underworld zo/foj, and the time-marker kne/faj, all provide an intricate web within the storyline. Let us envisage that the whole Iliad is tinged with countless shades, i.e., grey, or dark. They are all somewhat shades of darkness. My current submission is that kelaino/j verges very close to black because of its negative effect on the contexts. This also applies to sko/toj, since the covering by sko/toj represents the 44

Goethe also acknowledges the association between the colour of dress, the person’s character, age, and so on; Goethe 1970, 328. 45 Pulleyn 2000, 23.

The Uncertain World of Darkness in The Iliad


warrior’s dying. However, because of its relationship to Zeus, kelaino/j is positioned on the upper side, in other words, in a higher place. Polio/j encompasses a wider range of shades, in both the positive and negative senses and thus located in the middle. As kne/faj is accompanied solely by i9ero/j as a time sign for the respective context, its positive sense is accepted. Therefore, kne/faj is positioned towards the lighter dark range. In turn, zo/foj likely manifests the lower world and thus its place at the bottom. Passive The Trojans Death – sorrow

The Iliad

Active The Achaians → Life

kelaino/j (upper air)


kne/faj polio/j


zo/foj (underworld)

The poet arranges his plot details well, associating colour or colourrelated terms with this plot. The colour adjectives are not just a decoration, but signs that engage the audience’s expectation for the next episodes. The

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poet differentiates between varieties of colour, or darkness. Therefore, I would propose that the poet deliberately adapts his words to the context, in order to increase emotional tension, highlight specific moments, and connect related scenes together. The exploration of dark colour terms is intriguing enough to invite further study. As I mentioned elsewhere, further research on other Greek terms is necessary to illuminate these dark shades more clearly, and that is beyond the scope of this paper. Nonetheless, I hope I have offered a persuasive point of view on the role of the dark-formulated world of the Iliad, which captivates our modern eyes and enables a broader perspective on the understanding of colour in the ancient world.

References Allen, G. 1879. The Colour Sense: Its Origin and Development. London: Trübner André, J. 1949. Étude sur les Termes de Couleur dans la Langue Latine. Paris. Beare, J. I. 1906. Greek Theories of Elementary Cognition from Alcmaeon to Aristotle. Oxford. Berlin, B. and P. Kay. 1969. Basic Colour Terms. CSLI Publications: Berkley and Los Angeles. Bradley, M. 2009. Colour and Meaning in Ancient Rome. Cambridge. Bruno, V. 1977. From and Colour in Geek Painting. New York. Bury, R. G, trans. 1929. Plato: Timaeus, Critias, Cleitophon, Menexenus, Epistles (Loeb Classical Library). Harvard: Harvard University Press. Chantraine, P. 1999 (1st 1968). Dictionnaire Étymologique de la Langue Grecque. Paris: Klincksieck. Clarke, M. 2004. “The Semantics of Colour in the Early Greek WordHoard.” In Colour in the Ancient Mediterranean World, edited by L. Cleland and K. Stears with G. Davies (BAR International Series 1267), Oxford, 131-139. Cunliffe, R. 1924. A Lexicon of the Homeric Dialect. London. Edgeworth, R. J. 1989. “Colour Clusters in Homer.” Eos 77: 195-198. —. 1992. The Colours of the Aeneid. New York. Edwards, M. W. 1987. Homer: Poet of the Iliad. London. Ellis, H. 1896. “The Colour-Sense in Literature.” Contemporary Review 69: 714-729. Feisner, E. A. 2006. Colour: How to Use Colour in Art and Design. London. Fontana, D. 2010. The New Secret Language of Symbols. London.


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Fowler, B. H. 1984. “The Archaic Aesthetic.” American Journal of Philology 105: 119-149. Fountoulakis, A. 2004. “The Colours of Desire and Death: Colour Terms in Bion’s Epitaph on Adonis.” In Colour in the Ancient Mediterranean World, edited by L. Cleland and K. Stears with G. Davies (BAR International Series 1267), Oxford, 110-116. Fowler, B. H. 1984. “Archaic Aesthetic.” American Journal of Philology 105: 119-49. Hainsworth, B. 1993. The Iliad: A Commentary Volume III: books 9-12. Edited by G. S. Kirk. Cambridge. Hammond, M, trans. 1987. Homer: The Iliad. London. Gage, J. 1993. Colour and Culture. London: Thames and Hudson. —. 1999. Colour and Meaning. London: Thames and Hudson. —. 2006. Colour in Art. London: Thames and Hudson. Gladstone, W. E. 1858. “Homer’s Perception and Use of Colour.” In Studies on Homer and the Homeric Age III. Oxford, 457-499. —. 1877. “The Colour-Sense.” Nineteenth Century 2: 366-388. Goethe, J. W. 1970. Theory of Colours. Translated by C. L. Eastlake and introduction by D. B. Judd. Cambridge: The MIT Press (pbk). Griffin, J. 1980. Homer on Life and Death. Oxford. Irwin, E. 1974. Colour Terms in Greek Poetry. Toronto. Hett, W. S, trans. 1936. Aristotle: Minor Works (Loeb Classical Library). Harvard: Harvard University Press. Kirk, G. S. 1990. The Iliad: A Commentary Volume II: books 5-8. Edited by G. S. Kirk. Cambridge. Kober, A. 1932. The Use of Colour Terms in the Greek Poets. New York. —. 1934. “Some Remarks on Colour in Greek Poetry.” Classical World 27: 189-191. Leaf, W. 1900-1902. The Iliad (2 vol.). London. Liddell, H. G. and R. Scott, 1996. A Greek-English Lexicon: Ninth Edition with a revised supplement. Clarendon Press: Oxford. Lyons, J. 1995. “Colour in Language.” In Colour: Art & Science, edited by T. Lamb and J. Bourriau, 194-224. Cambridge. Moonwomon, B. 1994. “Colour Categorization in Early Greek.” Journal of Indo-European Studies 22: 37-65. Morrison, J. 1999. “Homeric Darkness: Patterns and Manipulation of death Scenes in the Iliad.” Hermes 127: 129-144. Munro, D. B., and T. W. Allen. 1902. Homeri Opera Vol. I – II (Oxford Classical Texts). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Musurillo, H. 1961. Symbol and Myth in Ancient Poetry. New York. Osborne, H. 1968. “Colour Concepts of Ancient Greeks,” The British

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Journal of Aesthetics 8 (3): 269-283. Platnauer, M. 1921. “Greek Colour-Perception,” Classical Quarterly 15: 153-162. Postlethwaite, N. 2000. Homer’s Iliad: A Commentary on the translation of Richmond Lattimore. Exeter: University of Exeter Press. Prendergast, G. L. 1983. A Complete Concordance to the Iliad of Homer. Heidesheim. Pulleyn, S. 2000. Homer: Iliad Book One. Oxford. Richardson, N. 1993. The Iliad: A Commentary Vol. VI: books 21-24. Edited by G. S. Kirk. Cambridge. Rowe, C. 1977. “Concepts of Colour and Colour Symbolism in the Ancient World,” In Colour Symbolism: Six Experts from the Eranos Year Book 1972, edited by A. Portmann, 23-54. Taxas. Saito, Y., 2007. “Me/laj and Leuko/j in the Iliad.” The Journal of Sonoda Women’s University 41: 9-16. Tarrant, D. “Greek Metaphors on Light.” Classical Quarterly 10: 181-187. Tebben, J. R. 1998. Concordantia Homerica II: Ilias. A Computer Concordance to the van Thiel Edition of Homer's Iliad. Heidesheim. Tresidder, J. 1997. Dictionary of Symbols. London. Vivante, P. 1982. The Epithets in Homer. Yale. Wallace, F. E. 1927. Colour in Homer and in Ancient Art. Massachusetts. Young, D. 1964. “The Greeks’ Colour Sense.” Review of the Society for Hellenic Travel 4: 42-46.


The word cor (colour), applied in the Portuguese language to globally designate all the various components of the colour spectrum, and also the terms referred to by each of these components, today presents metaphorical or metonymical extensions of its original meanings, having acquired different semantic contents that are to a great extent culturally constructed and determined. In this paper, I limit myself to the Portuguese case since, although the same phenomenon undoubtedly takes place in other languages, the present metaphorical or metonymical meanings certainly vary from culture to culture. One of the most paradigmatic cases relates to the meanings acquired by the words cor (colour), preto/negro (black/negro), and, in opposition, the word branco (white) within the framework of Portuguese colonial and postcolonial discourses. Based on the analysis of two Portuguese youth novels, Uma Questão de Cor1, 2010, by Ana Saldanha and Baunilha e Chocolate2, 2001, by Ana Meireles, I reflect here on how these terms–and the concepts they relate to–, represent and simultaneously contribute towards the construction of an otherness, based on the matter of (skin) colour. In the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (2005), the term otherness is defined as “the quality of being different or strange” and in the Free 1 2

A Question of Colour (my translation) Vanilla and Chocolate (my translation)

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Merriam Webster Dictionary as “the quality or state of being other or different”. Correspondingly, both definitions connect otherness with the notions of ‘different’ and ‘other’. Thus, otherness, as “a fundamental category of human thought” (Beauvoir, 1949: 4), cannot be explained and understood without taking the other into account, a category “as primordial as consciousness”, as the duality of the Self and the Other already existing “in the most primitive societies, in the most ancient mythologies” (Beauvoir, 1949: 4). As a result of Beauvoir’s ideas about women’s position in society as being the other of men (based on Hegel’s master-slave theoretical dialectic), the concept of the other becomes a fundamental issue of study in several fields of knowledge, including sociology, philosophy, postcolonial studies, among others, and especially those associated with identity and difference. As Chris Barker (2004: 139) states: “The notion of the Other is closely linked to those of identity and difference in that identity is understood to be defined by its difference from the Other. I am male because I am not female, I am heterosexual because I am not homosexual, I am white because I am not black and so forth. Such binaries of difference involve a relationship of power, of inclusion and exclusion, in that one of the pair is empowered with a positive identity and the other side of the equation becomes the subordinated Other.”

In spite of some different dimensions to difference existing, such as gender, sexuality, class and disability (Hall, 2007: 225), and in spite of the ambivalence which characterizes it, as “it can be both positive and negative” (Hall 2007: 238), I restrict myself in this paper to the racial difference, as I am dealing here only with representations of a black other, firstly in the Portuguese language itself and then in the two selected youth novels. Beginning with the aforementioned terms–cor, preto, negro and branco–, regarded as polysemic lexical items3, I would like to highlight 3 The semantic analysis of the selected lexical items is carried out only in a synchronic perspective, based on some of their meanings collected from the Portuguese dictionary Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa, 2013 (Porto Editora), without taking into account their evolution over time. I also would like to underline that these items, as polysemous categories, “exhibit a number of more or less discrete, though related meanings, clustering in family resemblance categories” (Taylor, 1995: 122). In this sense, we can say that they have an internal semantic structure, where a central meaning (called ‘prototypical’ by some cognitive linguistics) and semantic extensions of this central meaning are identifiable. As Dirven & Verspoor state (1998: 46): “Among the


The Colour of the Other in the Modern Portuguese Youth Novel

some of their meanings, presented in the following table, deemed relevant to a better understanding of the theme addressed by this chapter. Table 1. Meanings of the words cor (colour), preto (black), negro (negro) and branco (white) Selected terms

Cor (colour)

Grammatical category

Central meaning


impression that the light diffused or transmitted by bodies produces in the organ of vision.


said of the total absence of colour, the absorption of all bright radiations.

Preto (black) noun

adjective Negro (negro) noun

the opposite or more distant colour from the white, such as jet black. characterized by the absence of colour, because of receiving light and not reflecting it. total absence of colour, because of the absorption of all light radiation.

Some extensions of meaning natural colour of the human skin; appearance [figurative]; character [figurative]. dark; gloomy; (person) who belongs to the black race [pejorative]. mourning; person who belongs to the black race [pejorative]. dark; dirty; gloomy; ominous; funereal. black; person who belongs to the generic group characterized by displaying very darkly pigmented skin.

various senses of words, some are always more central or prototypical and other senses range over a continuum from less central to peripheral” and they add: “All the senses of a word are linked to each other in a radial network and based on cognitive processes such as metonymy, methapor, generalization and specialization.” (bold by the authors). As already stated, in table 1 I present only the central (prototypical) meaning of the words selected and some extensions of meaning considered relevant for the theme of the present chapter.

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adjective Branco (white) noun

which has the colour of lime, snow or milk. the colour of the lime, snow or milk.

121 pale; candid; innocent. someone of the Caucasian race; someone of this colour.

Starting with the word cor (colour), it is interesting to note that, in the Portuguese language, we apply the expression person of colour to designate a person who does not belong to the white race. This is a lexical form with a neutral content commonly deployed by people seeking to avoid the words preto or negro because of the pejorative meanings these have acquired over time. However, odd as though it may seem, according to this usage, black people are the only persons to deemed to have a colour and as if all other human beings are bereft of colour. As to the words preto and negro, they have acquired, beyond their original meaning related to an objective phenomenon–the colour of some objects in the physical world–, negative and/or pejorative meanings, resulting from the power relations established by Portuguese people with black people ever since their first encounter. This, in fact, took place right at the beginning of centuries of colonization, marked by slavery, exploitation and discrimination against black people by Portuguese whites4 and the foundations for the construction of a black other grounded on fixed stereotypes and prejudices. This also explains why, in opposition, some extensions of the meaning of the word branco started getting connoted with positive aspects and virtues, such as innocence and purity. According to Ryszard Kapuściński (2008: 22), “The image of the Other that Europeans had when they set out to conquer the planet was of a naked savage, a cannibal and pagan, whose humiliation and oppression is the sacred right and duty of the European – who is white and Christian”.

In the Portuguese language, there are also some idiomatic expressions in which the words preto, escuro or negro are applied with a negative


As stated earlier, I limit myself to the Portuguese case, although a deep study of Portuguese colonialism cannot be dissociated from the colonialism practiced by other European countries, all of them with significant consequences in their languages and cultures (and in European culture as a whole).


The Colour of the Other in the Modern Portuguese Youth Novel

meaning and others in which the word white becomes imbued with positive content as set out in the following table: Table 2. Examples of Portuguese idiomatic expressions with the words preto (black), negro (negro) and branco (white) Idiomatic expressions

Literal translation

Conveyed meaning

A coisa está preta

the thing is black

it is a very bad situation

Negócios escuros

black businesses

illegal businesses

Um dia negro

a black day

a day when something very sad or upsetting happens

Ver o future negro

to see a black future

to face a hopeless future

Ter a alma negra

to have a black soul

to be a very bad person

Ter a alma branca

to have a white soul

To be a very good person

Branquear dinheiro

to whiten money

To launder money.

In conclusion, the words preto and negro, as well as many of the expressions they make up, have over time acquired specific semantic contents holding a negative and/or pejorative value in opposition to the positive meanings attributed to the word branco, a phenomenon only explainable by reference to the discourses articulated around the skin colours of the peoples involved: those with black skin, savages without religion, civilization, culture, humanity; and those with white skin, European, cultured, civilized, Christians, owners of a continent and aiming to possess the entire world. However, as Stuart Hall and other constructivists have advocated, there are no final, fixed or true meanings; individuals in society apply meaning and, for such reason, we must not confuse “the material world, where things and people exist, and the symbolic practices and processes through which representation, meaning and language operate.” (Stuart Hall, 2007: 25). Furthermore, according to this same author: “it is social actors who use the conceptual systems of their culture and the linguistic and other representational systems to construct meaning, to make the world meaningful and to communicate about that world meaningfully to others.” (ibid).

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Thus, within a culture, meaning does not solely depend on words, but often on “larger units of analysis – narratives, statements, groups of images, whole discourses which operate across a variety of texts, areas of knowledge about a subject which have acquired widespread authority” (Hall, 2007: 42).

In this sense, meaning is also determined and constructed by the dominant discourses in each time and place with such discourses including all the discursive practices characterizing in the Foucauldian sense the way of thinking about a certain topic in a given historical place. For this reason, the study of particular texts or practices matters less than analysis of the discursive formations from which these texts derive (Stuart Hall, 2007). Starting out from my reflection on the words cor, preto, negro and branco (colour, black, negro, white), highlighting their basic meanings and some of their metaphorical/metonymic extensions, as well as the role played by discourse and discursive formations in the construction of meaning, we need to gauge to what extent the negative and/or pejorative usages of these words reflect and contribute to the construction of a racist and discriminatory conception of a black other within the Portuguese colonial and postcolonial discourses and practices. For this purpose, I have chosen two Portuguese youth novels as objects of analysis, Uma Questão de Cor5, 2010, by Ana Saldanha, and Baunilha e Chocolate6, 2001, by Ana Meireles and both written in our postcolonial period and addressing the issue of racism in contemporary Portuguese society. From this perspective, analysing the title of both novels proves relevant: the first, Uma Questão de Cor, a metaphorical expression referring to the issue of racism, and the second, Baunilha e Chocolate, metonymically connoting the skin colour of white and black people.

The construction of a black other within Portuguese colonial discourses In Portugal, a colonial country subjected to a dictatorial regime for over four decades and that lasted until April 1974 and engaged in colonial wars during the latter years of this period, the dominant discourses and practices in all spheres of power during that era were predominantly 5 6

A Question of Colour (my translation) Vanilla and Chocolate (my translation)


The Colour of the Other in the Modern Portuguese Youth Novel

discriminatory and racist towards black people. However, racism was also present in many white Portuguese mentalities, with consequent repercussions in the language and thus explaining the pejorative meaning the words preto and negro acquired when applied to a black skinned person. As one example, I would quote an excerpt from the recently published book O Retorno7 (2012), by Dulce Maria Cardoso, which quite accurately conveys how colonized black people were perceived by Portuguese whites during colonialism: “o problema é que eles não têm cabeça, eles são os pretos, os que conhecemos e os que não conhecemos. Os pretos. A não ser que se queira explicar o que são, aí é o preto, o preto é preguiçoso, gostam de estar ao sol como lagartos, o preto é arrogante, se caminham de cabeça baixa é só para não olharem para nós, o preto é burro, não entendem o que se lhes diz, o preto é abusador, se lhe damos a mão querem logo o braço, o preto é ingrato, por muito que lhe façamos nunca estão contentes, podia-se estar horas a falar do preto mas os brancos não gostam de perder tempo com isso, basta dizer, é preto e já se sabe do que a casa gasta.” (Cardoso, 2012: 25). “The problem is that they do not have heads, they are blacks, those we know and those we don’t know. The blacks. Unless you want to explain what they are, then it is black. The black is lazy, they enjoy lying in the sun like lizards. The black is arrogant, if they walk with their heads down, it is just because they don’t want to look at us. The black is dumb, they don’t understand what we say to them. The black is an intruder, if we give them a hand they immediately want your arm. The black is ungrateful, no matter how much we do for them, they are never happy. We could spend hours talking about the black, but the whites don’t like wasting time on this, it’s enough to say, it is black and we all know what we are talking about” (my translation).

Postcolonial discourse in contemporary Portuguese youth literature After the April 1974 revolution, which brought an end to dictatorship and led to the independence of the colonies, Portuguese society has been changing across many different levels throughout the last few decades. In the global world we today live in, “a world fundamentally characterized by 7

In spite of not belonging to the category of youth literature, I have decided to present here an excerpt from this book as it portrays, in a very raw and direct fashion, the dominant images of black people in one former Portuguese colony, Angola.

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objects in motion [which] include ideas and ideologies, people and goods, images and messages, technologies and techniques” Appadurai (2001: 5), with increasing advances in high technologies for information and communication, which keep us permanently connected to others on a global scale, multiculturalism today represents one of the most striking aspects of Portuguese society. All these factors have contributed to altering the political, institutional and social discourses and practices related to the other–an otherness that has come to include, nowadays, not only the ex-colonized, but also immigrants coming from all over the world–; however, that does not mean that racism has completely disappeared from some white people’s mentalities and discourses. In this context, children and youth literature, emerging as a cultural practice whose functions include providing entertainment and the development of reading habits in young readers, but also and mainly their socialization, play an important role in the development of an intercultural dialogue among young people from different cultures. In fact, as Emer O’Sullivan has claimed (2005: 13): “Belonging firmly within the ‘domain of cultural practices which exist for the purpose of socializing their target audience’ (Stephens, 1992: 8), it [children’s literature] is a body of literature into which the dominant social, cultural and educational norms are inscribed.”

Taking this into account, I have chosen to analyze two Portuguese youth novels, whose theme is that of racism among young people in Portuguese schools. First of all, it must be said that within Portuguese children and youth literature, there is a significant number of books for children approaching this subject, but very few for youth. Another striking aspect is that, if we consider “school” as a microcosm tending to reflect the multiculturalism of our society and reproducing the discourses and practices characterizing relations among individuals living here, in the two above mentioned books–Uma Questão de Cor and Baunilha e Chocolate–only white and black students are represented, with the black being the victims of intolerant and discriminatory attitudes. This may be explained by the fact that people from the former African colonies still constitute the main set of ethno-cultural groups in Portugal: in 2006, people arriving from PALOP 8 countries represented 34.1% of all foreigners officially residing in the country (Felix Neto, 2010: 26).


Acronym used to designate Official Portuguese Language African Countries.


The Colour of the Other in the Modern Portuguese Youth Novel

In the book, Uma Questão de Cor, the main character is a fourteenyear-old white girl, named Nina, whose uncle had lived in Mozambique and married a black woman from South Africa. They came to Portugal and Nina’s black cousin started attending her school. The racist reactions of some schoolmates did not take long in coming: they called him “tostadinho” (toasted), “escurinho” (darkie) and Vítor, Nina’s best friend, commented on the black boy’s name, Daniel, in the following way: “I thought it [his name] would be just something like Quintundo or Jimbindi. In Africa there are only these really preposterous type names”9 (Saldanha, 2010: 57). The book also includes the description of a situation on the bus, where an old woman asserts, so loudly that all the other passengers could hear her: “they [the blacks] should go to their homeland (…)”; and looking at the woman sitting next to her, she goes on: “I don’t have anything against them, but what are they doing here? Have you seen that “pretalhada” 10 in the news all demonstrating? They want money, they must all go to their own countries (…)”. (Saldanha, 2010: 59).

Daniel, Nina’s black cousin, never reacts to these provocations. However, he is unkind whether to his black mother when she speaks Portuguese incorrectly, or even to those who try to have good relationships with him. This makes Nina sometimes feel sad or even angry, but her grandfather explains to her: “Without being aware, you think that being negro or mulatto is a disadvantage; and that, for that reason, Daniel should be very grateful to you for being on his side. The worst is that Danny maybe also feels his race as an issue. This is one of the worst consequences of racism, selfcontempt” (Saldanha, 2010: 74).

In the other youth novel, Baunilha e Chocolate, we have a heroine, an Angolan black girl, named Jasmim, ironically the name of a white flower. About her name she says: “I’ve got a white dress because jasmines are white, aren’t they? (…) White isn’t a fragile colour, as we can think at first sight. White is a strong colour that nobody dares to tread on.” (…) But everyone treads on me. After all, I


The quotations of the two Portuguese youth novels were translated into English, in order to facilitate the reading of the present paper. 10 Pejorative word for saying all those black people.

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am a black jasmine. I was born in a poor land, in Africa” (Meireles, 2001: 10).

Her parents had come to Portugal looking for a better life, but things did not work out well: her mother died and her father started drinking too much, became violent and was put in prison, although Jasmim did not know why. The thirteen-year-old girl was sent to an institution for adolescents and began attending a public school, where she had to deal with her white schoolmates. There, she meets Ana, who becomes her friend and gives her a diary on her birthday. This also explains why the novel is written in diary form, within which the heroine dialogues and describes her emotions, her memories, sorrows and fears. And Jasmim’s greatest fear, she confesses to her diary, is to become visible; for that reason, she wears her “shield of invisibility”, even knowing that such a feat “would be almost impossible for a girl of the colour of bitter chocolate” (Meireles, 2001: 12). This invisibility is so important to her that she even claims: “My survival depends often on keeping myself invisible” (Meireles, 2001: 18, 19). However, her methods of invisibility do not work as expected and provocative attitudes towards her soon emerge among her classmates. “Blacks are very clever or very stupid people. You there, so silent, what are you really?”,‒one white boy loudly demanded of her (Meireles, 2001: 12). Furthermore, one day, on entering the classroom, she realized someone had written in big letters on the board: “We don’t want the blacks! The black must return to Africa!” (Meireles, 2001: 106). Jasmim also complains about her teachers, who do not understand her, who want her to speak Portuguese well and understand things and subjects she has never heard about. At first, she behaves really badly; she does not study and aggressively responds to everyone around her. However, in time, things start improving. The school librarian becomes her best friend; she protects Jasmim, helps her, gives her good advice and even invites her to spend weekends with her. A white boy falls in love with Jasmim, and Ana, her first friend at school, always remains on her side. It can be said that both novels, even though not choosing to present an overtly happy ending, leave the reader with the impression that, in the future, things will likely get better for both characters who are victims of racism: Daniel and Jasmim.


The Colour of the Other in the Modern Portuguese Youth Novel

Conclusion It may be claimed that, in the two youth novels discussed, written in the Portuguese postcolonial period, the issue of racism between white and black people is addressed from a European perspective tending to “stress not so much the definitive end of colonialism as, and specially, a different way of reading the present and the past” 11 (Manuela Ribeiro Sanches, 2005: 8). In the novel Vanilla and Chocolate, the main character is a black girl, who is portrayed as a victim of racism at school and speaks in the first person about her feelings and fears, demanding from the real author of the book that she dresses her heroine’s black skin, that she inhabits a place and time where she does not belong and which she does not know from the inside. This may help explain some contradictions in the book, particularly ‘the perfect Portuguese’ used by Jasmim in her diary, the same diary where she complains a lot about her difficulties speaking or writing this language. In the novel A Question of Colour, the heroine is a white girl who describes, in the first person and as an observer, the discriminatory attitudes towards her cousin and the reasons she finds it so difficult for her to understand the way he reacts to them. This makes the approach easier for the real author of the book, who does not need to dwell so deeply on the feelings and thoughts of the discriminated black boy, Daniel. However, I should add that the real authors of both novels, by giving voice to the singularity and particularities of two young black characters, Daniel and Jasmim, try to locate themselves far from a view on racism that is still prevalent in contemporary Portuguese society, a view marked by discriminatory attitudes towards black people, by a discourse in which the words black and negro very often still acquire extremely negative connotations. As recent examples of Portuguese modern youth literature, a cultural practice whose main function incorporates the socialization of its young readers, both youth novels thematize an issue that affects the social and cultural structures of our society: the difficulties young people experience in constructing multicultural identities and in breaking down stereotypes and prejudices against seemingly foreign cultures. Indeed, as Félix Neto has stated in his book Portugal Intercultural: Aculturação e Adaptação de jovens de Origem Imigrante (2010), adolescence is a period in life when questions raised by the issue of immigration acquire great importance, 11

My translation.

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because the young are simultaneously trying to adapt to a new culture and to all those changes characteristic of adolescent development (Félix Neto, 2010:9). However, we cannot forget that the group of immigrants living in Portugal today is not only composed by black people, but by people coming from all over the world; in 2002, the statistical data already demonstrated the existence in Portuguese schools of more than 120 different nationalities with 80 languages spoken by students at home (J. António Gomes, Ana Margarida Ramos and Sara Reis Silva, 2009: 18). In this context, Portuguese youth literature should be concerned with portraying the full multicultural dimension of our schools in particular, and of our society in general, thus playing an important role in the construction of an intercultural dialogue among young people, a dialogue in many colours and not only in black and white. In fact, as Tzvetan Todorov underlines, “In today’s and tomorrow’s world, encounters between people and communities belonging to different cultures are destined to become more and more frequent; the participants alone can prevent them turning into conflicts” (Todorov, 2010: 11).

References Appadurai, Arjun. 2001. Globalization, Durham and London: Duke University Press. Barker, Chris. 2004. The Sage Dictionary of Cultural Studies, London, Thousand Oaks and New Delhi: Sage Publications. Beauvoir, Simone de. 1949. The Second Sex, accessed December 11, 2012, Cardoso, Dulce Maria. 2012. O retorno, Lisboa: Tinta da China. Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa. 2013. Porto: Porto Editora. Dirven, René & Verspoor, Marjolijn. 1998. Cognitive Exploration of Language and Linguistics, Amerstam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company. Free Merriam Webster Dictionary, accessed December 15, 2012, /otherness. Gomes, José António, Ramos, Ana Margarida & Silva, Sara Reis. 2009. “Literatura Portuguesa para a infância e promoção da multiculturalidade”, in Malasartes – Cadernos de Literatura para a Infância e a Juventude, nº. 17, Porto: Porto Editora, 18-23.


The Colour of the Other in the Modern Portuguese Youth Novel

Hall, Stuart. 2007. Representation. Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices, London: Open University. Kapuściński, Ryszard. 2008. The Other, London and New York: Verso. Meireles, Ana. 2001. Baunilha e Chocolate, Lisbon/São Paulo: Verbo. O’Sullivan, Emer. 2005. Comparative Children’s Literature, London and New York: Routledge. Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. 2005. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Neto, Felix. 2010. Portugal Intercultural: Aculturação e Adaptação de jovens de Origem Imigrante, Porto: Livpsic. Saldanha, Ana. 2010. Uma questão de cor, Lisbon: Editorial Caminho. Sanches, Manuela Ribeiro (org.). 2005. Introduction to Deslocalizar a Europa, Antropologia, Arte, Literatura e História na PósColonialidade, Lisbon: Livros Cotovia. Taylor, John R. 1995. Linguistic Categorization: Prototypes in Linguistic Theory, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Todorov, Tzvetan. 2010. The Fear of Barbarians, translated by Andrew Brown, Cambridge and Malden: Polity Press.



On colour Should all artwork depend on how the artist applies materials to challenge an observer, colour takes on a special importance in the painter’s practice. Painting constantly forces the artist to make choices, acts of acceptance or refusal, sometimes made on a non-rational basis, this may prove so compulsive that the artist stops working with colours and switches to black and white without any apparent reason. Rejecting previous lines of work, rethinking tradition and what was done before is always present in the artist’s practice. The moments that the artist applies paint and those when observing the painted surfaces succeed each other continuously, revealing long periods of intensive work. In this process, a special moment occurs: the artist stops and does not continue working; going on would no longer make sense. The gesture is manifest in the way the paint drips, but other factors such as the fluidity of the paints and colours, juxtaposition or the form and fragmentation of the support and its display also represent crucial facets. The work is finally looked at as if the painter is no longer a painter, having instead been transformed into nothing more than a spectator.

Recent works My work has to do with the gaze, how you stare, how you understand the time the eye takes to scrutinize a surface filled with lines and colours. This relates to memory and traditions of procedures, seeks to understand the surrounding space and what constitutes that space and its interaction with spectators. This involves distance and proximity, with fragmentation and re-composition, with the relationship between detail and the whole. This deals with the autonomy of the gesture, with the way the hand acts, with the physical act of making a painting, with the smooth and the textured, with the empty and the full, and with equilibrium and instability. My work has to do with identification and with the capacity of discovery

Pedro Calapez


and continually questions the representation of reality.

Colour, Fragmentation and Volume Fragmentation is one of the practices I follow in my work, representing a way to discuss detail and the whole. Reconnecting the fragments also reveals productive procedures. Paint escapes through the holes in the support creating discontinuities on the surface. In relation to the fragmentation of ideas and adding volume, I have developed a series of works titled “Composições” (Compositions, 2004, Fig. 1) in which different panels contain different depths. The volumetric challenge is thus clearly present. The paintings offers their viewers different approaches depending on the distance and angle from which the work gets approached. The lateral surfaces feature mirror capacities and a colourful visual continuity gets created when a group of panels is seen sideways. The application of very strong colours alternating with smooth and mysterious transitions demands the gaze of viewers moves continuously in different directions. Observing the panels as a detail or seeing them integrated into a group also reveal different aspects to the work. Colour makes an intense statement in my recent works. However, colour does not define itself by any simple or even complicated game. Neither does it do so by recourse to contrasts nor by the metaphoric possibilities encapsulated. The act of painting and the role of colour in painting are primordially revealed by the interaction with a gaze, the gaze of a spectator. This gaze is the source of the feelings arising in the relationships promoted by that seen and that which makes the spectator meditate on reality, on the weight reality assumes to the individual and the relationship thereby built with others. Art is a political act and reaching beyond simple distraction or entertainment. Colour is artwork differentiating itself from the formal type questions that inevitably emanate from colour’s own materiality. There are different levels of interpretation in a painting depending on its different usages of colour and shape. Artwork should be as open as possible. Several different and varied interpretations of may still not focus on the artist’s process as in fact his work starts from paints, media and inspiration to which logical usually processing does not apply. To discuss what one sees requires time and space from the gaze and the discussion about colour, an activity necessarily reductive of reality, and currently structured by eminently formal aspects. In fact, the best way to begin discussing colour is to refer


On Colour

to how a tube of paint is opened and squeezed until the thick or liquid paint spreads in front of our eyes and hands.

Colour and Supports Another of the recent trends in my work interrelates with the limits of the support. Traditionally, the support is canvas, a rectangular piece of strong cloth stretched over a wooden structure. In his book Della Pittura, Léon Battista Alberti describes this rectangular surface for the first time as a window: “On the surface on which I am going to paint, I draw a rectangle of whatever size I want, which I regard as an open window through which the subject to be painted is seen.” (Alberti in Bartlett 2011, 167)

However, the painting may have a non-uniform structure. The four borderlines, the limits of the traditional structure, can be distorted in different ways: deforming edges, mixing surfaces in different depths, or even fragmenting the support and experimenting with different materials. Of course, great care and thought on how paint flows and reacts to these deformations is also required. These are issues important to my work and myself. An important work related to my exploration of support limits is “Piso zero” (Ground floor, 2004, Fig. 2) that was created for my exhibition at the Galician Centre for Contemporary Art (CGAC) in Santiago de Compostela, 2004. “Piso zero” is a ground piece, a painting laid out on the floor. The 66 acrylic painted aluminium plates fit together revealing the way they were cut in reference to a previous drawing. The resemblances to an island, a map, or just a slab of dried mud as a consequence of climate changes pose some of the possible meanings to this work. The drawing was made based on Siza Vieira’s architectural drawings for the CGAC. However, the physical appearance of this work transcends any programmatic principles making it an autonomous work of art. The drawing is the result of the superimposition of the different floors, mixing all the rooms and corridors. It is as if the collapse of all floors of a building would define a new plant out of the ruins of what was before a perfect building. My hand redrew these lines in a freehand style, roughly following the more intense lines. This work reveals a deregulated territory, a new continent raised from destruction. And nevertheless it remains a painting; a painting seen from above while you can also go around it.

Pedro Calapez


The objective was to start out in the reverse direction of the final architectural creation. This resembles trying to discover the wanderings of the architect’s pencil before tracing what needs drawing in order to fulfil an imposed program. Through the gaze’s distortion over a constructed universe, I reached the reference starting point for my work. The process flows from an end to a beginning, from an exterior look at an intimate way of seeing in order to forget all functionalities, overlapping lines, mixing dimensions, distorting the visible, and redrawing a space as a sum of different parts, filling the cut parts with thick paint, overlapping the chosen colours to create a cut, coloured ground out of a rigorous architecture. In recent works, from 2005 to 2010, I have explored different actions related to the supports that have born direct implications on the colour painting process. Crucial to the visual result, and for example, is the effect of colour bands that continue within a painting from fragment to fragment such as in “RW 04” (2008, Fig. 3). By the deformation of a rectangle, different shapes were obtained and sometimes with a wavy movement. Moreover, hidden signification may exist when shaping such paintings. For example the “Badges” series (2010) departed from drawings of real badges and coats of arms then subject to reshaping and redrawing with the aid of a computer. In the work “Mod 02” (2007), all the aluminium parts were scaled according to the Golden Rule from an exercise proposed in “Modulor” (Le Corbusier, 1943). This level of signification is then turned over by the presence of colour. Deforming an aluminium plate is also a process of disturbing the regularity of painting. The visual aspect becomes different whether the support is painted before or after being distorted. Working with computer software to systematize changes in a simple rectangle for example results in a dialogue between wavy movements and straight patches of colours. A more challenging situation is the association of supports with contrasting shapes and their grouping. Notions such as stability and continuity of form are questioned. Colours then function as the magnetic tension that group the different shapes.

Process of Colour Painting To think about colour processing, we may consider the following quotes: “Take a blue in the fold of the mantle, an ultramarine from afar, a soft violet, a harsh yellow, a running red, a disturbed raw Sienna, an ochre on the edge of the door, a magic emerald, a smoke black...” (Calapez 2008). “To us art is an adventure into an unknown world, which can be explored


On Colour only by those willing to take the risks” (Rothko, M., Gottlieb, A., and Newman, B. 1943. Wikiquote 2012). “I did have the desire that the painting be asymmetrical and that it create a space different from any I had ever done, sort of-off balance. It was only after I had built up the main body of red that the problem of colour became crucial, when the only colours that would work were yellow and blue” (Newman 1990, 192).

When painting a colour, another colour can be superimposed over the first or settle next to it, touching it right at its edges. Processing these choices, building the painting palm by palm, is an attempt to foresee results in the progressive filling of the colour. The way a painting is made does not follow a pattern. I just as much start at the top as at the bottom or from left to right as vice versa or paint adjacent panels group by group, opposing colour patches within the total surface of the set. Placing one colour next to another produces a scale of interactions: a scale of relationships between colours, a scale of correspondences with my gaze. Establishing colour scales, an issue that has concerned painters throughout the history of painting, in an attempt to systematize the pictorial process, does not take place without contradictions. This is evident in the intuitive choices made by artists. “Where the eye sees at the same time two contiguous colours, they will appear as dissimilar as possible, both in their optical composition and in the height of their tone” (Chevreul in Gage 1999, 173).

I start by choosing all the colours that the paint manufacturers provide. I lay the respective pots of paint out on my work table, grouping them together according to a possible palette of colours: I establish a scale among the colours that I intend to use first and their opposite colours, not in the optical sense or as a chromatic circle, but by subjective, intuitive associations. Black and white are next to each other, allowing swift mixtures in the correction of luminosity. Sometimes at the beginning I limit the number of colours to be applied. On occasion, I have chosen just two colours and those might be just black and white. The intermediate tones appear during the mixing, obtaining a certain hue at a specific intensity, or they happen during the physical mixture on the surface of the painting where the dégradés (colour gradients) proliferate through the dragging of the paint. Dimensions, form and distance determine the choice of the colours. The process of painting flows, irregularly cut through by moments of contemplation in which, as a spectator, I feel the multiple chromatics present. Retouching and repainting are equated. The process is

Pedro Calapez


repeated with the end being determined in the glance of the certifying gaze. “And what is good about a picture is never ideological but always factual” (Richter in Obrist 1995, 165).

I am dealing with a concrete problem: to put colours, forms and volumes functioning. What visual dimension might a set of colours, limited by the surfaces that hold them, further take on in the eyes of the viewer? Might it still be possible to claim importance for the gaze? Is the gaze a part of feeling? Colours and forms are not only this. Something emanates from their physical presence. The way they appear and are structured is determined in their making, a determining part of the process of painting (Fig. 4). “Generally speaking, colour is a power which directly influences the soul. Colour is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand which plays, touching one key or another, to cause vibrations in the soul” (free translation for this paper from French, Kandinsky 1969, 89).

The colours hover before me shifting like clouds in a sky swift with wind. They drag themselves over each other, here fusing in and there scraping at each other. They contrast each other; they promote unexpected games. I spoke of Kandinsky, Chevreul, Richter, Newman and I could refer to many others such as Goethe, Arnhein, Itten but something always remains to be said. The space of colours is variable and ambiguous, not explanatory or affirmative. It equally easily allows one to speak of politics as of love, as of nothing. Speaking of nothing, better, speaking about emptiness still remains a possibility and perhaps represents the last possibility for communication. The place of communication and contemplation shifts. Images continue to exist beyond what they may illustrate. They establish a world with a vitality of its own in which the discussion of reality becomes a lesser issue. Revealing colour, reminding one of its existence, is only possible in the physical empathy of its intrinsic nature.

Early Works However, I have not always used colour in the way outlined above. In my 1991-1995 works, slight tonal differences and surface texture aside, the colour is uniform: black, red or orange, brown or greenish. The colour


On Colour

works as an ocean, a continuous support in which white lines, in fact scratches on the surface, make their apparition to reveal a drawing.

Colour Uniformity “Muro contra muro” (wall against wall, 1994, Fig. 5) is a good example in which the colour use is uniform. The work is a corridor, a passage device. The work’s 18 panels are painted in two tones of red. The panels are displayed in a way that a small dislocation is created in their side-by-side setting. The two walls conceive a visual movement, as there is a discontinuity on every other panel. As the lighter red succeeds the darker one, there is also a colour discontinuity. The colour “madder red lacquer” is, from my perspective, an ambiguous colour; warm blood and a cold threat, therefore taking us into unimagined depths. The objective is the creation of the spectator’s path in this corridor that absorbs and confronts him, envisioning the surface scratches that reveal interior views and partially finished walls or even ruins. “At a certain point the wall ended and Marcovaldo found himself leaning against the top of a pillar; no, it hadn’t ended. It made a right angle and continued. Thus, along the forked angles and pillars Marcovaldo’s path followed an irregular course; how many times did he think that the wall was about to end, only to discover that it continued in another direction; in the middle of these bends and curves, he no longer knew which way he had turned, or rather, at which point he should jump down to get to the street. Jump… and if the difference in level had risen? He perched himself on top of a pillar and peered down below, from one side to the other, but not a single ray of light was able to penetrate the bottom: it could have been anything from a small leap of two meters to an abyss. His only choice was to continue along the top” (free translation for this paper from Portuguese, Calvino 1994, 48).

“Wall against wall” came into being with my arms stretched open. The blades that I held firmly in my hands touched the two surfaces simultaneously. When one hand scored the paint on one surface, the other hand immediately imitated the gesture on the opposite side. I started again. Now it was the right hand that took up the initiative and the left that responded. In this way the drawing began to emerge. The two hands challenged each other, comparing each other through the drawings they have carved. The uneven symmetries contemplate each other in the task of searching for the place: something more offered in the space that divides them.

Pedro Calapez


While the work starts to appear, my mind wanders in contemplation. How does a space come into being? Could it be the association of place linked to repetition, to symmetry? For each drawing there is another, made before, from another. A mirror is also used for symmetry. And for each space or object drawn, another one exists, not exactly symmetrical but reflecting it. An interior is drawn, the interior of a palace, of a house, walls - some made of ice, others not - a cave, a path in a canyon, an exploding window, staircases that draw back and come forward, that sink or elevate, something that falls in the water, a row of columns, a suitcase that opens. One day the gaze recalls the day before. When the hand gently fondles the door’s post, the tabletop, the edge of the bed. Thinking about other doors, tables, bedrooms, houses, the gaze roams, searching for other moments. The repetition of the gesture certifies the continuous gaze.

Changes The uniformly coloured backgrounds found in my works from 1991 to 1995 began changing with the exhibitions “memória involuntária” (involuntary memory, 1996) and “campo de sombras” (field of shadows, 1997). This change is clearer in the second exhibition in which exuberant and contrasting colours arise, overlapping and mixing while still moist. The idea of fragmentation and regrouping in panel groups also arises, although it may already have been present in the discontinuities of “muro contra muro”. ”memória involuntária” is a conception of human memory in which cues encountered in everyday life evoke recollections of the past without conscious effort. In “In Search of Lost Time” (also known as “Remembrance of Things Past”), author Marcel Proust contrasts involuntary memory with voluntary memory. The latter designates memories retrieved by intelligence, referring to memories produced by putting conscious effort into remembering events, people, and places. Proust's narrator laments that such memories are inevitably partial, and do not bear the essence of the past. “memoria involuntária” is an almost closed room with a small door, a house with only one room, the door indicating the possibility of penetrating its interior. The door is a small, rather narrow passage, like a corridor. A controlled entrance. In the interior, the walls are high, touching the ceiling of the surrounding space. The white walls prepare my torment, demanding to be filled. I knew that the drawings I was going to do could not be openings, windows. I


On Colour

stand in the centre of the room and sense the images taking over the space. I no longer wish to leave. I am going to stay here. “No doubt, in the depths of my eye, the picture is painted. The picture, certainly, is in my eye. But I am not in the picture” (Lacan in Miller 1998, 110).

The distance between a landscape and its image: the distance between this image and my gaze. That which remains. What other landscapes can possibly be recalled when remembering an image I saw but for a few seconds? What other drawings can I possibly do? Abandoning control of the hand, pursuing a line defined by the development of a memorized drawing. It is in these narrow spaces that one can work. “Vision is not a particular way of thinking or of being in itself: it is the means I am granted to be absent from myself, to observe from within the fission of Being, only at the end of which do I close on myself” (free translation for this paper from Portuguese, Merleau-Ponty 1969, 99). “In this way, a struggle is launched between the will to see all and forget nothing and the faculty of memory, which has formed the habit of a lively absorption of general colour and of silhouette, the arabesque of contour” (Baudelaire 1995, 16).

The landscapes are there, in front of me. I have to study them to begin to draw the outlines, which reveal the gaze of the other and his other gaze. In the repetition of the copy, at that specific moment when the eye follows the outlines and does not need to verify whether the hand accompanies it, I realize that the image that I so intimately prepared has begun to look at me. Then I close my eyes. The departure proposal for this exhibition at the Chiado Museum in Lisbon was that I had to choose works from the museum’s collection and make my work on the basis of those references. I chose the soft pastel works by Sousa Pinto (1856-1939), loose leaves of a lost sketch book of country walks: light traces of colour that meet and collide, one with another, seeming, at times, to float beyond that which they represent. I decided to observe the works in the museum’s reserve collection. There, I set up a small studio so that I could draw while seeing the original works. Drawing based on these wonderful soft pastels made me feel something special. Sousa Pinto’s landscapes as such had little meaning to me, however his use of soft pastel and the way he overlaid the different colours took my mind back to the way I made my childhood drawings,

Pedro Calapez


characterized by overlapping many colours. These overlapping traces were also present in my dark graphite drawings from 1982. Looking at these Sousa Pinto works, I made a series of paintings that were cues for childhood memories, similar to the recollections in Marcel Proust’s novel. But sensations merge constantly and thinking about what kind of landscapes would come out from memories of those I was copying, had me absorbed by the luminosity of Sousa Pinto’s backgrounds and this drove me to undertake a specific change in my previous practice. Therefore, the painting series for the exhibition “memória involuntária”, works titled “Parede 1”, “Parede 2”, “Parede 3” (Fig. 6) and “Parede 4”, was made using more and much thicker paint and using different colours in different layers. When the surface was scratched to define a drawing line, the colour of this line, instead of taking the white background of the canvas, would take the colour of one of the deeper colour layers. Those memories also led me to group paintings by just putting different themes side by side and the surprise of the unexpected contrasts or discontinuities. How does one discover what exists between each one of these outlines? Are they made up of the pigment? How do we understand what is beyond that represented? I cannot help but get so close to the surface that everything falls out of focus. I no longer see beyond the colours, the lost lines thus divined are nevertheless recorded in my eye just the same. The drawings of Sousa Pinto look at me, and my eye passionately enamoured with painting stops teaching my hand. The development of my work took a further step at the next exhibition, “campo de sombras” (field of shadows, 1997), made for the Pilar and Miró Foundation in Mallorca in 1997. During a visit to the Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró in 1995, when I received the Pilar Juncosa and Sotheby’s prize for drawing, I took the opportunity to walk around the museum and visit the two Miró studios. Something there particularly impressed me. In Son Boter, a typical Mallorcan country estate house, there is a small room that Miró used for meditation and reading with a tiny annex where he used to sometimes sit and watch the shadows coming through an opening in one of the walls. In Miró’s studio, designed by the architect Sert, I found objects that could have been a reference to ideas or evocations of memories that Miró undoubtedly used in his work in a way known only to himself. Miró’s presence was evident right there in the room. I could see him as it were moving around his work and painting and every now and then glancing at those insignificant newspaper cuttings, packages, postcards and tiny objects that he had carefully pinned to the walls of his studio.


On Colour

Then I imagined myself drawing. What could I draw if I were to take all these references as a point of departure? What images would be, and inevitably were, stuck to these objects? They came to me as shadows, not in the sense of being the dark side of things but rather as being from the other side, as images that although having lost something by having been lived by another person, still provoked ideas, memories, and intuitions. At that moment, those images merged into the walls of Miró’s studio as if revealing his vision, which in spite of having disappeared, had not ended. The series consists of drawings with thick red lines in oil on paper evoking the contours of some of these cuttings and drawings on Miró’s wall. These references were also incorporated into a series of alkyd paintings on wood in which, following the most recent trend in my work, a thick and pasty consistency of paints was used and the drawing was carved into its surface. I composed two sets of 24 paintings in different sizes and depths. In them, the carved drawings were made, not based on Miró’s drawings, but on Miró’s memories. Even though they were created as individual pieces, their composition as a whole forms one very large painting in which the different details can be perceived individually. Making a painting that is the result of grouping different parts, in dialogue with each other, became something new to me. (Fig. 7) Works with an underlying reference to the shadows Miró saw in his annex did not come out as dark panels but as strong and luminous paintings. Some still allude to Miró’s objects, such as the scratched drawings appearing on the surface, but others are completely abstract. Miró’s eye, which abides so intensely in that place, is with me now, perhaps looking on at me. Miró’s “Constellations” (around 1936) make one wonder about fields of stars, hence the title of my exhibition “campo de sombras” (fields of shadows).

Immergence in Colour Standing surrounded by colour, being immerged in a colour field has been a theme for many of my works. The fascination I had, when at art school, for colour field painters such as Rothko, Clifford Still, Barnett Newman continues and remains a basic reference for many of my works and installations. However, the idea of fields of colours also brings me to one of my first

Pedro Calapez


exhibitions “Azulvermelho” (Bluered) presented at Diferença Gallery in Lisbon in 1982, which resulted from collaboration with the artist Ana Léon. For the catalogue of “Azulvermelho,” we wrote that the spots invading the exhibition space on the canvas over the walls and the objects were not verbally explainable. The gaze is not able to decipher the representation that is before you. The gaze will create new worlds from what the eye is seeing and simultaneously and continuously narratives will evolve. Making artwork is not the solution for any type of problem. The “making” survives frontally as a practice and in fact is itself the only problem. What is done, the work, has a value of its own, and instigates a biunivocal relation–from the spot to the gaze and from the gaze to the spot–enlightening a border of possibilities. One can speculate about the use of red and blue; hot and cold, close and far. However, there is no rational explanation for this choice, we just strove to create a disturbing place where strange beings, wood cut figures painted similarly to the walls, haunted the visitors. In 2002, I went back to this idea of immerging in a painting and developed a series of works called “Contentores” (Containers, 2002-2004, Fig. 8). The first of the series is “Dentro”, a cube that is open at the upper side. Each side is 1.3 metres long and painted on their inner faces. To observe the painted faces spectators have to look inside the cube. If wanting to feel the work completely, spectators have to lean over its side and dip their heads literally into the painting. The paintings are completely abstract and filled with large patches of strong colours in such a way that one cannot distinguish the cube’s sides. What is thus proposed is more than seeing inside: it is to imagine oneself being inside as if confined within a surrounding environment of intense painting, isolated and cut off from all conditions exterior to the work. With this physical action, the aim once more was to make the viewer more closely aware of the eye-gaze paradigm. Added to the spatiality of the work itself, installed in an exhibition room with a large show window opening onto the sidewalk. People approached the gallery space seeing this large industrial looking object very slightly showing that there was something inside but which would only reveal itself completely if you entered the gallery.

Spaces Generally, I prefer to endow some autonomy to the work, allowing the


On Colour

scope for the work to be installed in different spaces. However, from time to time, I make works for specific spaces. In 2002, the aim of a commission was to commemorate the five hundred years of existence of the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (Jerónimos Monastery) in Lisbon. Even though I had full freedom in my design, I decided to take into consideration the details of its location. The work “Ornamento Escondido” (Undisclosed Ornament, 2002, Fig. 9) hangs on a wall by the stairs leading to the upper cloister of the monastery. This piece features 24 aluminium panels, painted with acrylic, arranged in a grid, was completed in March 2002 and is now on permanent display at the Jerónimos Monastery. The colour of the room but also the colours of the cloister and the colours of a series of paintings depicting the life of Saint Jerome in the sacristy were taken into consideration while defining what this work would be. For the piece, I chose, after several studies, to make a large view of the main cloister. In fact, this is a two-frame drawing as the same image is repeated with minimum differences. Yellow and red colours answer the cloister’s stone, which was recently cleaned and had taken on a smooth yellowish colour. The fresco on the room’s ceiling was also orange and ochre. The text below gives an insight into my gaze and working process for this work. On the walls of the church, certain grooves seemed to run in lines that traced arches and outlines of drawings. The blocks of stones interrupted those lines without impeding their continuity. In the dim light of the interior of the church, those drawings appeared and disappeared in response to the clouds that drifted capriciously by, blocking the rays of the sun. I began my walk through the cloister. In my mind’s eye, I made pictures with all the memories I could summon, including those of certain Sunday mornings when, hand in hand with my father, I strolled between these arches. In the cloister, revolving on the spot, I gazed around a full 360º. My eye passed from detail to detail, taking in the thousands of ornaments, each merging into the next, looking the same but always different. The yellow-ochre of the stone became more intense by the contrast with the blue of the sky. Between areas of light and shade there was a continual, warm vibration. It was impossible to stay still in this place. Wandering through the cloister is inevitable, compulsive. At one moment, I wanted to watch a

Pedro Calapez


detail, a piece of ornamentation, then immediately I wanted to see what came next. Thus the eye proceeded, in a cinematographic sequence, moving in and out, from panorama to close-up, interweaving continuous with frame-by-frame vision. Framing is set up in the interstices of these stone blocks, testing the equilibrium between their different forms. In the sacristy, a set of medium-size paintings depicts scenes from the life of Saint Jerome. My gaze alighted on one in which jagged mountains and scattered clouds stand out in the background. On the stairs leading to the upper choir stalls, a twin window with two stone benches defines a halfway halt. I sat down and looked out. Several planes are superimposed, silhouetted one against another, until the eye comes to rest on the outer walls of the cloister. On the stairs leading to the upper cloister, there are windows on one side only. They define rectangles whose dimensions I noted down, seeking to discern a proportional relationship. I decided to take photographs. On several occasions, I found myself in Jerónimos Monastery solely to collect images that might provide a basis for drawings. I decided not to draw from life but to work with the photographs on the computer. I began to lay down coloured backgrounds with drawings made from the views I had recorded. The results multiplied and, from the 50 drawings selected, I moved to as many possibilities for paintings. I arranged the grid of aluminium panels, giving the surfaces the dimensions of the windows of the site where my work would be installed. I fine-tuned the panel dimensions and the background colour using on site projections. The two thicknesses of the elements in this huge painting would reveal themselves when one moved in relation to the panel. The viewer’s gaze would thus be engaged in various ways by the frontal and lateral observation inevitably involved in walking up and down the stairs on the site. The field of vision would also change as the eye moves towards and away from the surface of the painting as the viewer walks past. Now I could start work. Shut away in the studio I tried out colour mixes: one colour for the background; another for the line that defines the design that reveals views in the cloister; another colour for the thick superimposed line.

Conclusion Colour takes on a special importance in the painter’s practice. The act of painting and the role of colour in painting are primordially revealed by


On Colour

the interaction with a gaze, the gaze of its spectators. This gaze is the source of the feelings that arise in the relationships promoted by what is seen and will make spectators meditate on reality, on the weight reality holds to them and the relationships built with others. The best way to continue discussing colour is once again to refer to how a paint tube is opened and squeezed until the thick or liquid paint spreads in front of our eyes and hands.

References Bartlett, K., ed. 2011. The Civilization of the Italian Renaissance: a sourcebook. Toronto: University of Toronto Press Incorporated. Baudelaire, C. 1995. The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays. Edited by Jonathan Mayne. London: Phaidon Press. Calvino, I. 1994. Marcovaldo. Lisbon: Teorema. Calapez, P. 2008. Escala de Cor. Text for the exhibition “Escala de Cor” held at the Max Estrella Gallery in Madrid in 2008. Gage, J. 1999. Colour and Culture. Practice and Meaning from Antiquity to Abstraction. Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press. Kandinsky, W. 1969. Du Spirituel dans L’Art et dans la Peinture en particulier. Paris: Denoël/Gonthier. Merleau-Ponty, M 1969. O Olho e o Espirito. Rio de Janeiro: Grifo. Miller, J-A., ed. 1998. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan. Book XI The four fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis. London & New York: W.W. Norton & Company. Newman, B. 1992. Selected Writings and Interviews. Edited by John P. O’Neill. Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press. Obrist, H-U., ed. 1995. Gerhard Richter The Daily Practice of Painting Writings 1962-1993. London: Thames and Hudson. Rothko, M., Gottlieb, A., and Newman, B. 1943. “Letter to the New York Times”, published 13 June 1943. Found on Wikiquote, 2012. “Mark Rothko”. Last accessed October 24, 2012.

On Colour by Pedro Calpez Fig. 1. Composição #26, 2004, 169,5 x 211,5 x 41 cm

Fig. 2. Piso zero, 2004, 350 x 700 x 31 cm

Fig. 3. RW 04, 2008, 300 x 400 x 5 cm

Fig. 4. Barreira C, 2012, 225 x 71 x 4 cm

Fig. 5. Muro contra muro, 1994, 240 x 1000 x 180 cm

Fig. 6. Parede 3, 1996, 280 x 558 x 12,4 cm

Fig. 7. Muro 2 (campo de sombras), 1996, 336 x 610 x various cm

Fig. 8. Contentores, 2002-2004, each 130 x 130 x 130 cm

Fig. 9. Ornamento Escondido, 2002, 545 x 505 x various cm

Brief Reflections on the Idea of Colour in Goethe, Kandinsky and Klee by Anabela Mendes Fig. 1 A.M., Fragrance of the Colour I, Island 2011

Fig. 2 A.M., Fragrance of the Colour II, Island 2011

Beige Heritage/Golden Towers: Colour, Culture and Aspiration, in UAE by Surajit Chakravarty, Patricia Ball Fig. 1: Beige/Brown colour scale seen in archaeological exhibits

Fig. 2: Detail of coral used as construction material

Fig. 3: Traditional colours at Al Shindagah Palace, Bur Dubai

Fig. 4: Modern buildings in heritage colours, Deira, facing the creek

Fig. 5: Non-heritage buildings in heritage colours, Bur Dubai

Fig. 6: Colour-coded heritage district in Sharjah

Fig. 7 (a-d): G Green and Goldd coloured facad des in Abu Dhaabi and Dubai

Colours of Military between Architecture and Pictorial Representation by Manuela Zorzi Fig. 1 Soave (VR), south walls.

Fig. 2 Asolo (TV), south walls.

Fig. 3 Tommaso da Modena, Santa Caterina, detail.

Fig. 4 Bernardino Pinturicchio, Crucifixion, detail.

Fig. 5 Francesco di Giorgio Martini, Madonna del terremoto, detail.

Fig. 6 Cima da Conegliano, Sant'Elena, detail.


Pure Seeing “If I were made of fabric I would dye myself“: Walter Benjamin attributes this phrase to his friend Fritz Heinle (Benjamin 1985, 121) and quotes it in an early written text called: “Rainbow. Conversation on Phantasy“ (Benjamin 1989, 24). For Benjamin, colours are no substance, they have no quality, they are quality. “Colours see themselves, pure seeing is in them, they are its subject and its organ at the same time.” Pure seeing does not know any difference between a subject that is looking and an object that is being looked at. Perhaps one could say this is a potentiality of sensitiveness, something that has always already taken place when something becomes visible, but that also opens every perception to something new. Colour is a difference in visual perception or, better, in perception in general. Furthermore, Benjamin’s concept of pure seeing already addresses a basic amodality or synaesthesia of perception. The ‘look of things’ comprises both a passive and an active genitive. Colour has “a face. Colour is the pure expression of the vision of the world, the overcoming of the one who sees. Through phantasy, colour touches the sense of smell and the sense of taste” (Benjamin 1989, 23, my translation). “The colours of phantasy culminate in red”, we read in notes written by Benjamin a few years later (Benjamin 1985, 122, my translation). And he adds: “Pure phantasy only exists outside the human.” “Rainbow. Conversation on Phantasy” was probably written in 1914/15, in the first months of World War I. Fritz Heinle, Benjamin’s friend, was already dead at that time. He and his girlfriend Rika Seligson had committed suicide in the early days after the declaration of war in August 1914 (Görling 2006). Melancholia seems woven into these sentences. Had the young couple absorbed the violence of these days in the same way that fabric absorbs colour?


Screaming Red: Colour, Affect, and Cinema

The fascination with colour as a potentiality for seeing and not as a quality of certain things was explored and exposed in various art forms of the late 19th century, some of which led directly to the creation of cinema. One example is the coloured light performances in variety theatres. In the second half of the 19th century, limelight was the main technique used to produce spotlight illumination on the stage. Because of its heat and its open fire, it was difficult to colour this light. Complicated systems of mirrors and filters had to be constructed, often by the performance artists themselves. And they invented special performance arts to produce these sensations. The dancer Loïe Fuller not only had an important influence on the development of free dance, she also held patents in lighting technology: the most famous being her serpentine dances. Coloured light was projected on the screen-like gown that she moved around in while dancing on the stage. Similar effects were produced by Papinta the Flame Dancer. The silk scarf she danced with was said to extend over 50 yards and was illuminated by light that continuously changed its colour. Both began their careers in the USA and performed in nearly every large European city. While Fuller stayed in Paris, Papinta, whose real name was Caroline Hipple Holpin, dropped dead in Düsseldorf in 1907 immediately after a performance and perhaps due to suffocation by the gas produced by the limelight (Martinez Historical Society 2013). There is then a certain feasibility that one of these performances may have led Heinle to the above cited comparison. And even had Benjamin and Heinle never seen them live, there were various films made of them. Hand coloured copies circulated all over the world and still remain very impressive examples of the early use of colour in film. As Joshua Yumibe mentions in an important recently published study, colouring film in those days was often independent from any representational object and to the extent that: “In actual practice, the vast majority of silent films use applied colouring in ways that demonstrate an understanding of colour and cinema not confined exclusively or even predominantly to the logic of realism” (Yumibe 2012, 7). The emancipation of colour from the service of representing objects had been a programmatic effort of art in the second half of the 19th century. Art historian Max Imdahl speaks of a “Entbegrifflichung des Sehens”, a Deconceptualization of Seeing (Imdahl 1987, 26), as a condition for this new aesthetics of colour. It became obvious that perception represents a process in time that cannot be understood as a relation between the fixed positions of subject or viewer and object. Colour is not something given: seeing colour is a synthetic performance relational to other colours and at least partly pre-subjective. Such a comprehension already characterizes the

Reinhold Görling


painting that lent its name to a whole epoch: Claude Monet’s Impression, soleil levant (1872). We see water, farther away there probably is a harbour. However, the shape of things fades away into the colours. Colour produces the impression of a space, a borderless space, where things change their shape as constantly as the waves. There is a certain temporal split in the centre of perception: in order to fix things that constantly change their shape, we have to interrupt this continuity. Henri Bergson emphasises this two decades later in his “Matter and Memory” (1896). Nevertheless, the human mind betrays itself and reconstructs the impression of continuity. This procedure has a similar result to that which tempts us to think that colour is rather a quality of things than a quality of seeing. Monet’s waves, like all other waves, are not continuous in a linear sense, the breaking of the waves on the wood of the ship is not continuous, and neither is the light that becomes visible in the water, being broken, reflected and absorbed. Monet’s problem was not how to depict movement in a still picture but, and this is obviously more complex, how to depict the interruption and discontinuousness in it. It might be a big step in technology but perhaps only a quite small step in the conception of light in the transition from Monet’s painting to the installations of, for example, James Turrell or Olafur Eliason. Is the potentiality of light not already strong enough in Monet’s painting to absorb the ability of the things under representation? They stop being objects. The chimneys with their billows of smoke, the masts of the sailing boats and the cranes, they become ghosts or giants like the windmills in Cervantes’ Don Quijote. They are in-between appearing and disappearing, something that is seen without actually being recognized.

Colour’s Firstness Charles Sanders Peirce once explained his concept of Firstness by referring to the colour red: “For an example of Firstness, look at anything red. That redness is positively what it is. Contrast may heighten our consciousness of it; but the redness is not relative to anything; it is absolute, or positive” (Peirce 1998, 268). Gilles Deleuze, who grounds central concepts to his philosophy of cinema on Peirce, insists that Peirce’s point is not the question as to whether colours were perceptible without any relation to one another. Colour is Firstness because “it is not a sensation, not a feeling, not an idea but the quality of a certain sensation, of a certain feeling, of a certain idea.” (K, 1, 137) In Peirce’s words: “Possibility, the mode of being Firstness, is the embryo of being. It is not


Screaming Red: Colour, Affect, and Cinema

nothing. It is not existence” (Pierce 1998, 269). It is important to bear in mind that Peirce’s differentiation between Firstness and the related semiotic elements, the icon or the qualisign as opposed to Secondness including the index or sinsign, and finally Thirdness with its symbol or legisign is not to be understood as a developmental scheme. More likely, this becomes a model of stratums. All three are “invariably present” and “a pure idea of any one, absolutely distinct from the others, is impossible.” (Peirce 1998, 267) Secondness is actualization. Thirdness, says Peirce, is habit, it is effective when Thirdness produces a relation between two things. In Peirce’s philosophy, the relata never completely precede a relation. Secondness refers to events in history, changes of action and reaction; Thirdness refers to habitus, to discourses and laws. In particular, Firstness can especially be perceived as a relation without relata. Firstness is a “there is”, it is not dividable and contains no parts: this proves very similar to the Leibniz idea of the monad to which Pierce himself refers. In keeping with Leibniz’ concepts, it is a fold. Deleuze calls it affect. “The affect is independent of any space-time determination; nevertheless it stems from historical development, which originates it as an expression of a certain space or a certain time, a certain epoch or a certain milieu. (This is why the affect is the “new”, and new affects are produced incessantly, especially by works of art)” (Deleuze 1989, 138, my translation). Affects cannot be repeated. The “there is” of a colour is always new. There is a certain difficulty in conceiving something that should be independent from any determination in space and time but that should nevertheless be an expression of a certain space or time. In order to think of this as neither a contradiction nor a paradox, we need to differentiate between modes. And this is exactly what Peirce and Deleuze do. The three strati are the potentiality or possibility, the actuality or historicity, the necessity or the law. In every event, in every thing, the three modes are entangled and can never be completely isolated while also not interblending: firstly, the relationship that may either give birth to the “there is” or may remain pure potentiality or virtuality. Secondly, the relationship that actualizes a relationality and makes it visible, like a scene on the stage or in the landscape. Thirdly, the relationship that brings two things into relation and fixes them as if in a narration or a discourse. Colours are Firstness, but they are not isolated from Secondness and Thirdness. When we translate Peirce’s concepts into the discipline of media studies, we may well say we deal with Thirdness when studying the history of discourses and institutions, of apparatuses, regimes or

Reinhold Görling


paradigms. We approach Secondness when studying the history of events that manifest determined reactions and constitute a kind of chronological continuity. Furthermore, we face Firstness when studying the dynamics of affect. This certainly does not fall beyond the scope of history. When Walter Benjamin wrote in his famous essay “The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction” that his subject is “the revolution in the media of perception” („die Veränderungen im Medium der Wahrnehmung“, Benjamin 1989, 354), he was interested in exactly this: analysing the historical development of perception. His concept of aura depicts a certain kind of Firstness. This is a Firstness described as the ability of things to gaze, to relate to the addressed from a distance. The rising sun in Monet’s painting could be understood as aura. Art in the age of technical reproduction is Firstness in its proximity, it is tactile and kinetic and may be felt as shock. Should the Firstness of aura be interpreted as something sublime, Firstness may reveal a traumatic dimension in modernity. In the phenomenological approach of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, we find an understanding of colour that is strongly reminiscent of Peirce’s understanding outlined above. Similarly, Merleau-Ponty tries to depict the relationality of colours on the one hand, and the potentiality of colours as visibility on the other. He quotes a phrase by Paul Claudel “saying that a certain blue of the sea is so blue that only blood would be more red” (Merleau-Ponty 1968, 132). The comparison would seem inappropriate: however, the intensity of colour does not result from a comparison. Although a seemingly subjective content of experience, this cannot be communicated intersubjectively. This qualia-problem, as referenced in the history of philosophy, is discussed by Merleau-Ponty in a similar manner to Peirce by differentiating modes. This “red under my eyes is not (…) a quale, a message at the same time indecipherable and evident, which one has or has not received, but of which, if one has received it, one knows all there is to know, and of which in the end there is nothing to say” (131). The red “requires a focusing, however brief; it merges from a less precise, more general redness” (131), it is “a certain node in the woof of the simultaneous and the successive”, “a concretion of visibility” and “not an atom” (132). However, no red ever remains the same, it changes with each and every constellation, “as the pure essence of the Revolution of 1917 precipitates in it, or that of the eternal feminine, or that of the public prosecutor, or that of the gypsies dressed like hussars who reigned twentyfive years ago over an inn on the Champs-Elysées. A certain red is also a fossil drawn up from the depth of imaginary worlds” (132). Each concretion of visibility is unique and should at the same time be perceived in relation to the potentiality not only of every red, not only of colour, but


Screaming Red: Colour, Affect, and Cinema

of the possibility of any such relationship at all. “Between the alleged colours and visibles, we would find anew the tissue that lines them, sustains them, nourishes them, and which for its part is not a thing, but a possibility, a latency, and a flesh of things” (132f). The relationship between the uniqueness of the Firstness and the potentiality nourishing it does not derive from a relationship between singularity and the general. This could rather be described (in the language of science) as the relationship between chaos and the pattern emerging out of the chaos. With Merleau-Ponty, a further, ethical dimension comes into play. When the unique event of colour is nourished by potentiality then the one seeing takes on a certain responsibility for that seen. Seeing is part of the world and through seeing we give an answer to the world. Perception in the eyes of Merleau-Ponty is intra-activity and does not presuppose the relata with perception instead emerging out of an entanglement, or, in Merleau-Ponty’s words, out of a chiasm. Perception does not constitute an ability of the subject enabling them to confront the world but rather perception is the potentiality of the world.1 This phenomenological concept of colour is very close to the pragmatic position expressed by Peirce. A further quote by Peirce illustrates this: “In the case of colours, there is a tridimensional spread of feelings (hue, saturation, brightness). Originally, all feelings may have been connected in the same way, and the presumption is that the number of dimensions was endless. For development essentially involves a limitation of possibilities. But given a number of dimensions of feeling, all possible varieties are obtainable by varying the intensities of the different elements. Accordingly, time logically supposes a continuous range of intensity in feeling. It follows, then, from the definition of continuality, that when any particular kind of feeling is present, an infinitesimal continuation of all feelings differing infinitesimally from that is present“ (Essential Peirce I, 323-324, quoted in: Massumi 2011, 88).

In other words, Peirce and Merleau-Ponty both see colour as a kind of thickening that interrupts the infinitesimal continuation of hue, saturation and brightness on the one hand, and the basically synesthetic continuation of perception on the other hand. The actuality of an impression is a reduction, but it is never complete, it continues being supported by continuity.


I owe the concepts of intra-activity to Kared Barad’s important book on the entanglement of matter and meaning (Barad 2007).

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Colour and Environment The English neuroscientist John Mollon has developed an interesting model for the phylogenetic emergence of colour sensitiveness in human beings. The English neuroscientist John Mollon has developed an interesting model for the phylogenetic emergence of colour sensitiveness in human beings. While the absorbing cells of these cones do react differently to different wavelengths, the single cone is colour-blind registering only a kind of intensity of light. We need at least two different types of cones to differentiate the intensity of absorption from the wavelength. The human eye has three different types of cones that have a different sensitivity to certain wavelengths, but they “are not equal members of a trichromatic scheme, but rather that they evolved at different times for different purposes” (Mollon 1995, 128). Our colour vision “depends on two distinct subsystems, a relatively recent one overlaid on a phylogenetic ancient one.”Also interesting to note is our ability to communicate about colours fairly well with people with bicoloured vision by using temperature characteristics. People that cannot differentiate between green and red have both systems working but the sensitiveness for the difference between wavelengths that we perceive as red and as green is too insignificant for them. The system works like this in about 6 per cent of the male population. In reading studies by neuroscientists on the perception of colours, it is astonishing to learn that we do not have any cones especially sensitive to red light. The trichromatic scheme of our eyes does not work with the colours we put in our TV screens and printer cartridges, red, blue and yellow, but rather with ultraviolet, green and yellow. The wavelength we consider red is practically beyond the sensitivity of our eyes. Our eyes never see red! While all colours are completely constructed by our brain, red is a moreover a purely sensual illusion. Furthermore, it is important to note that – in contradiction to the machines we have invented to produce colour – the retina transmits no information about the three different sensibilities of wavelength absorption but two, each constructed by one of the two subsystems. From the relationship between these subsystems, our brain produces the affect of colour. Following Mollon’s hypothesis, the new system, and with it the trichromatic scheme, emerged due to developments in the environment. African trees that needed their fruits to be eaten in order to propagate started to change the colour of their fruit from green to red, thereby provoking apes to develop a new system of perception. “With only a little exaggeration, one could say that our trichromatic colour vision – if not the


Screaming Red: Colour, Affect, and Cinema

entire primate lineage – is a device invented by certain fruiting trees in order to propagate themselves” (134). There is no such thing as colour. There is only a difference in the wavelengths of light bouncing off a surface onto our retinas. Colour is a mere construction. However, exactly because of this, it is important to understand how this construction completely constitutes part of an entanglement between humans and their environment. Humans are not at the centre of this entanglement. Colour affects us but this affect is anything but a stimulus-response scheme. On the contrary, it involves us in a complex process of analysis of visual perceptions, including those of the environment. This becomes evident when looking at its phylogenetic development as well as in the way we construct our colour vision. To take one example, Olafur Eliasson once described how: “If we enter a room saturated in red light, our eyes, as a reaction, produce so much green–with a delay of approximately 10-15 seconds–that the red appears much less intense; it is almost erased” (Eliasson 2006, 77). What affects us then is not this red or that, it is the potentiality of the colour that addresses us and involves us in the world. There is a history of affect or perception of colours that is practically autonomous to language. Children learn the classification of colours, the relating of a visual impression of wavelengths to words in the active as well as in the passive mode not much earlier than before the end of their third year, significantly later than the naming of things and not earlier than they become able to say ‘‘I’‘. There are also cultures and language that barely differentiate between colour, texture and the luminosity of things; there are also languages that “do not have colour-referring terms as such. They may, however, have words that are used to describe the appearance of things in terms of what we would identify as colour” (Lyons 1995, 223). Again: colour perception is autonomous from any determined significance but is, nevertheless, a complete construction. Firstness does not mean that in our mind there is any direct perception of wavelength such as colour. Colour’s Firstness means that we get addressed without situating ourselves in front of a determined object. The phenomenon of synaesthesia even hints at a basic amodality of affect; however, Firstness is hardly ever poor, there is always a parallel Secondness and Thirdness. Colour can be temporarily linked to categories or significations, even to rules and to laws. The red in a traffic light has become a sign. However, just turn around at night and look at a place lit by a red sign: the red light transforms its environment into a different place. There is a possibility for understanding colours as a vitality affect, to use Daniel Stern’s masterly concept (Sterne 1985, 53f). Explaining this

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concept, Stern refers to Susanne Langer’s “forms of feeling”: they are “inextricably involved with all vital processes of life, such as breathing, getting hungry, eliminating, falling asleep and emerging out of sleep, or feeling the coming and going of emotions and thoughts. The different forms of feeling elicited by these vital processes impinge on the organism most of the time. We are never without their presence, whether or not we are conscious of them, while ‘regular’ affects come and go” (Stern 1985, 54) .

Colour and Cinema We have already seen how in the early days of cinema, there was a certain knowledge of the autonomous affect of colour. This has probably never since been lost even while the invention of Technicolour and–later on in the 1920s–of Agfachrome and Kodachrome needing only one negative to produce coloured images, re-established a stronger link between the representation of objects and the use of colour for a certain time. In some films made in the 1950s and 1960s, one can detect some examples of a kind of rediscovery of the autonomy of colour. Most of them use red to explore this autonomous dimension.

Il deserto rosso The first example I wish to mention very briefly is Michelangelo Antonioni’s Il deserto rosso (1964). It was Antonioni’s first colour film. Situated in the Italian region of Ravenna, in an environment characterized and polluted by chemical industry, Antonioni partly applied paint to cover trees and make the countryside white and grey, but there are dots of red, green or yellow colour and often without any linkage to certain objects. Many of these images are reminiscent of the hand-coloured films made at the beginning of cinema. Another technique involves frames that for five or more seconds show coloured things so completely out of focus that the images resemble abstract paintings. This autonomy of colour in Il deserto rosso represents an expression of an environment that affects the characters although not understood or even consciously felt by them. In the year of the film’s release, Antonioni wrote: “considero Il deserto rosso molto diverso dai miei film precedenti: non parla di sentimenti” (Antonioni 1994, 79). Roland Barthes once referred to this note and added that in this movie “everything emerges and hurts on another level, where the affect–the uncanniness of affect–slips away from the frame of meaning, that is the code of desire” (Barthes 1984, 67, my translation).


Screaming Red: Colour, Affect, and Cinema

Giuliana (Monica Vitti), the main character, has no doubts about her feelings, but the autonomy of colour resonates with the autonomy of affect that touches Giuliana and produces fear and a kind of constant irritation. Colour generates space but not space as a container but rather as a potentiality of not yet actualized relations. This space is neither inside nor outside, it is a space of an original in-between. Sigmund Freud once said that the psyche was extended but without knowing it (Freud 1972, 152). Something similar could be said of colour: it is a potential space, a space that gives space for a relation, or, once again following Peirce’s concepts, a Firstness.

Cries and Whispers Cries and Whispers, Ingmar Bergman’s first colour film, was made in 1971/72. Bergman wrote in his diary (21.8.1971): „In the screenplay I say that I have thought of the colour red as the interior of the soul. When I was a child, I saw the soul as a shadowy dragon, blue as smoke, hovering like an enormous winged creature, half bird, half fish. But inside the dragon everything is red“ (Bergman 1994, 90). Cries and Whispers takes place in a country house in about 1900. Four women live there: Agnes (Harriet Andersson) suffering from the final state of cancer, Maria (Liv Ullmann), desirous and sensual, Anna (Kari Sylwan), the maiden, motherly, taking care of Agnes, and Karin (Ingrid Thulin), strict and austere. Three men join them from time to time: the family doctor (Erland Josephson), who had a sexual relationship with Maria, and the husbands of Maria and Karin. The room walls of the house are covered with red wallpaper, the carpets are red, the curtains are red, so are the blankets and the covers. The four women are in a complex entanglement with one another, an entanglement of relations, of longing, mistrust, lies, hate and love. The women are individually recognizable but Cries and Whispers is not a movie about relationships existing between autonomous characters and instead represents a movie about what lies before, under or above this individuation, a movie about the in-between, about what connects them. It seems impossible to communicate this verbally, at least not in a subjective manner. The title of the movie, Cries and Whispers, can be understood literally: There is Agnes screaming in pain, and there is a whispering that accompanies the words spoken by the women, like an echo often coming before the spoken word. This whispering is not just the unspoken, the denied, although it sometimes is a bit ghostly. Instead, this resembles a noise that from time to time gives birth to speaking and to memories, a potentiality of language.

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Agnes’ screaming is an expression of pain, of existential threat, of an ongoing destruction: screams of suffering, screams that are part of a desubjectivization, expressing the horror, the displacement, the state of being beside oneself. But Agnes’s screaming also displaces the other three women. They are also beside themselves. Anna, whose little daughter has only recently passed away, holds Agnes, offering her naked breast as if she were a baby or a lover. Maria tries first to seduce the family doctor and later, after Agnes’ death, her sister Karin. Karin’s displacement is dominated by her reminiscences. In one, that is actually depicted and not just alluded to in the film, Karin introduces a splinter of glass into her vagina to hurt herself as well as her husband, a kind of manifestation of the constant injuries she suffers with him, but which is performed with excitement. While the red in Bergman’s movie conveys the inner side of the psyche–the colour of its expansion, to adopt Freud’s expression–then the movie offers the spectator a room without fixed positions, a room filled with cries and whispers, with reminiscences and phantasies that cannot be fully attributed to any one of the characters. Bergman’s red space of the psyche is not an individualized space, nor a space with an individualized perspective: each woman inhabits it or, to put it differently, it inhabits each of the women. The rooms in the house are like stages. The camera rarely moves and turning the rooms into the stage of a theatre. Alternatively, and more precisely, they come close to what Freud calls the mise en scène of secondary dream work. The scene, the scene of the dream as well as the scene that is a level inherent to all intersubjective relations includes people, but their identity does not make them subjects, their identity changes, and the corresponding actions are also not related to people in any fixed manner. In many passages, Bergman fades the cuts between reminiscences of the past and the present, between acts and phantasy, and between the different situations of the four women with what we might call ‘‘red film”. The space of the psyche is a transitional space, it has no fixed subjectobject-positions, its mode is always open to potentiality. The ‘‘fade to red’’ in Cries and Whispers is used in a different way than the fade to black in other movies. The shape of the faces filmed in close up gets lost in the red, they are depersonalized, but one gets the impression that they are still there and can emerge anew out of the fade to red. This red “gives”, it gives both: intensity of love and proximity, intensity of pain and death. Both images concentrate this in fascinating pictures: Anna holding the dying Agnes to her bare breast; Karin rubbing the blood of her self-injury onto her lips.


Screaming Red: Colour, Affect, and Cinema

Marnie and Vertigo Cries and Whispers was Bergman’s first movie filmed in colour. Eight years before, Alfred Hitchcock had already applied a “fade to red”. In Marnie (1964), the female protagonist (Tippi Hedren) is haunted by the flash-backs from a traumatic experience. Hitchcock marks these flashbacks with a red colour filter. In a way, this is rationalized by the fact that Marnie’s traumatic experience was quite bloody. Both movies use the red mask to visualize moments of desubjectivization or even depersonalization. However, they apply it to different ends: In Marnie, the colour red must be eliminated. In Cries and Whispers, it is what creates space. There are similar examples in Hitchcock’s other movies, especially in two famous scenes from Vertigo (1958). There is the moment when Scottie (James Stewart) falls in love with Madeleine (Kim Novak): the restaurant is completely covered in red wall-paper, and at the moment when Scottie actually gets beside himself, Madeleine’s picture is filled with red light. When he meets Judy, who reminds him of the dead Madeleine, Judy is wearing green clothes. For quite a long time, Judy remains approximate to green but red is also present. One could say the picture constantly moves between the present and the past, between two identities, between fascination and fear. After the forced retransformation of Judy to Madeleine has been completed, both characters dive into a sea of green light. There is a tension in this image, this specific green does not merge without tension into a sense of proximity, into the state of being beside oneself in love, it colours this scene in an uncanny way. The spectator senses this cannot end well: the past has to re-enter the game. In Vertigo, the autonomy of colour must be eliminated in order to return the illusion of autonomy to the male subject. Colour in Vertigo serves as an iconographic gesture, already always enclosed in a context of references. It refers to a relationship constituted by Thirdness, by law, by exchange, by murder, or by lies. However, is this context of references not already so overloaded that it gets vertiginous? Deleuze already has posed this question (Deleuze 1989, 274). The whole movie seems drawn into a vortex of unsecure references. Scottie, driving his car along the streets of San Francisco, turns around and around, the camera following the protagonists in topographically impossible circles in the famous scene in the graveyard. As early as the credits at the beginning of the movie, we encounter abstract coloured structures creating a vortex and before they emerge out of the eye of an anonymous face, the picture gets tinted in red.

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Red Dust My next example, Red Dust, is an English-South African production released in 2004. It was directed by Tom Hooper, who in 2011 received an Oscar for his film The King’s Speech. The subject of Red Dust is a trial of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) taking place in the year 2000 in the small town of Smitsrevier in the Great Karoo, the semi-desert north-east of Cape Town. Dirk Hendricks (Jamie Bartlet), a former officer convicted to fourteen years of imprisonment for another crime related to the civil war, applies for an amnesty and wants to testify in a case he was involved in but was not charged for. That perpetrators of political crimes could receive an amnesty if they gave a full confession was a central facet to the rules of the TRC. Alex Mpondo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is summoned before the court: fourteen years ago, in 1986, he was brutally tortured by Hendricks. He agrees to give testimony, risking his political career, because he wants to solve the disappearance of his friend Steve Sizela, with whom he was arrested. The movie opens with images of Steve dying under torture. They are filmed with a red colour filter. Later in the film, the spectator attributes this perspective to Alex’s position, understanding these pictures as a kind of flash back. In the following sequence, these images of Steve’s abused body looking at Alex are repeated for the first time. Alex has no conscious memory of this occurrence but, during the hearings, it becomes possible for him to recollect the traumatic experience. It is the morning of the first hearing, 23 minutes into the movie, the curtain of the stage hosting the trial is red, the landscape behind the diving board where Alex is standing is red in the morning light, the water is blue, changing to a kind of violet, the flash-back is filmed with a red colourfilter, the doors of the prison cells where Hendricks is locked away are green. Red, blue, green: the colours of the South African flag. We actually see the flag when the curtain opens. This attribution of the three colours is maintained. The colours are not applied symbolically but a form of vitality gets related to the images. On Hendricks’ side, everything is green: his overalls, the folders, the suit and even the tie of his lawyer. The tie of the judge is blue and we see green, blue and red in the stage background. On the side of the victim, red and blue colours dominate. They colour the background of the picture the moment Alex starts to recollect memories of torture. The conscious memories have a blue colour-filter. When we see pictures of him suffering waterboarding, we understand that swimming and diving are strategies to cope with these memories of torture. We are even shown the same images in blue and in red. It is a cinematic device to maintain the difference


Screaming Red: Colour, Affect, and Cinema

between the image emerging out of the past as a flash-back and which cannot be completely integrated into subjectivized memory, and the image that is a conscious recollection. With this, Hooper tries to stay true to a problem all movies about traumatic experience have to deal with: what happened can be told but what it means to be mistreated, hurt, desubjectivized or driven beside oneself can only partly be told or shown. There always remains something that cannot be integrated into the coherence of representation, experience or memory. And it is especially colour (and music, certainly) that proves suitable to conveying an idea of the presence of something otherwise unrepresentable. Hooper’s film retained the title of the original novel by Gillian Slovo on which the film is based. Red Dust refers to the landscape of the Great Karoo as well as the experiences of desubjectivization. This cinematic device is often deployed to entangle the materiality of landscapes with the faces and bodies of characters (This wovenness is the tissue, the flesh of things). There is no law binding red to traumatic experiences. The intensity or potentiality of every colour can be related to the experience of being beside oneself. Colours are extremely open to synesthetic sensations and to what Stern calls forms of vitality: to movements, to kinetics, to rhythms, to states of arousal. Ireland is green, and intensities in Ireland are variations of green. Ken Loach’s The Wind that Shakes the Barley from 2006 is about the Anglo-Irish War and the following civil war in the 1920s. There is barely any red in this film. Even the torture sequences are filmed with green colour filters. If I had started this article by discussing Loach’s film, “Screaming green” would have been a better title. As discussed within the framework of the history of perception, intensities are related to the cultural scheme of colour differences. However, there then seems to be another truth expressed in these words, one that the English language offers more directly than, for example, the German language: Screaming can be read not only in its function as an adjective but also as a gerund. Screaming is affect to the extent that it is an expression that lost its relationship to the context of language, that is beyond language and insofar as it neither has a signifying object nor does it address a subject then positioning itself. Every colour screams and every scream is a colour.

References Antonioni, Michelangelo. "Il deserto rosso." Italy, 1964. —. Fare un film è per me vivere. Scritti sul cinema. Venice: Marsilio, 1994. Barad, Karen. Meeting the Universe Halfway. Quantum Physics and the

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Entanglement of Matter and Meening. Durham: Duke Univ. Pr., 2007. Barthes, Roland. "Weisheit des Künstlers." In Michelangelo Antonioni. 6570. München: Hanser Verlag, 1984. Benjamin, Walter. "Zur Phantasie." In Gesammelte Schriften VI. 121-23. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1985. —. "Der Regenbogen. Gespräch über die Phantasie." In Gesammelte Schriften VII. 19-26. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1989. Bergman, Ingmar. "Viskningar och Rop." Sweden, 1972. —. Images: My Life in Film. New York: Arcade Publ., 1994. Deleuze, Gilles. Das Bewegungs-Bild. Kino I. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1989. Eliasson, Olafur. Your Colour Memory. Glenside: Arcadia University Art Gallery, 2006. Freud, Sigmund. Gesammelte Werke. Schriften aus dem Nachlass 18921938. Vol. XVII, Frankfurt: Fischer Verlag, 1972. Görling, Reinhold. "Die Sonette an Heinle." In Benjamin Handbuch. Leben, Werk, Wirkung, edited by Burkhardt Lindner. 585-91. Stuttgart: Metzler, 2006. Hitchcock, Alfred. "Vertigo." USA, 1958. —. "Marnie." USA, 1964. Hooper, Tom. "Red Dust." GB/SA, 2004. Imdahl, Max. Farbe. Kunsttheoretische Reflexionen in Frankreich. München: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 1987. Loach, Ken. "The Wind That Shakes the Barley." Ireland, 2006. Lyons, John. "Colour in Language." In Colour: Art & Science, edited by Trevor Lamb and Janine Bourriau. 194-224. Cambridge: Cambridge University Pr., 1995. Martinez Historical Society. "Caroline Holpin." 2013 ( Massumi, Brian. Semblance and Event: Activist Philosophy and the Occurrent Arts. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 2011. Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. The Visible and the Invisible: Followed by Working Notes. Evanston: Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1968. Mollon, John. "Seeing Colour." In Colour: Art & Science, edited by Trevor Lamb and Janine Bourriau. 127-50. Cambridge: Cambridge University Pr., 1995. Peirce, Charles Sanders. The Essential Peirce. Selected Philosophical Writing (1893-1913). Vol. II, Bloomington: Indiana University Press (Kindle edition), 1998. Yumibe, Joshua. Moving Colour. Early Film, Mass Culture, Modernism. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2012.


Despite a lifelong desire to be recognised as a painter, William Hogarth (1697-1764) started out as an apprentice to a silver plate engraver; however, due to the monotonous and derivative work this involved, he decided to set up his own workshop where he would print shop cards and book illustrations of works such as New Metamorphosis, by Charles Gildon (1724), Hudibras, by Samuel Butler (1725-26), and Don Quixote, by Cervantes (c. 1727). Widespread recognition of Hogarth’s talent came in 1732, with a series of six prints, A Harlot’s Progress, where each engraving shows a crucial moment in the life of the main character, leaving readers turned viewers to fill in the gaps between the plates organised in a narrative flow. Nevertheless, commercial success meant counterfeit reproductions and adaptations to every possible medium (poetry, drama, pantomime, ballad opera, pamphlets, china and fans), a tide which the artist tried unsuccessfully to stem. As a result, in preparation for A Rake’s Progress (1734, 1735), his next series of ‘modern moral subjects’ (Hogarth [1753] 1955, 216), Hogarth campaigned to introduce a law forbidding unauthorised copies of original engravings for fourteen years, equivalent to that then granted authors.1 As a result, the Engraving Copyright Act, enacted on 25th June 1735, has always been known as ‘Hogarth’s Act’. Following the success of A Rake’s Progress, the artist embarked on a career spanning another three decades, during which he created a number of significant series such as The Four Times of Day (1736, 1738), Marriage A-la-Mode (1743, 1745), Industry and Idleness (1747), The Four Stages of Cruelty (1751), several large-scale paintings and his aesthetic treatise, The Analysis of Beauty (1753). The 1

The statute granting copyright to authors had been enacted in 1710 during Queen Anne’s reign; its official name was ‘An Act for the Encouragement of Learning, by Vesting the Copies of Printed Books in the Authors or Purchasers of Copies, during the Times therein mentioned’.

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pairs of dates result from Hogarth’s desire to gain recognition as a painter (as an artist rather than a craftsman) combined with the need to (re)establish a British painting tradition, which led him to begin by designing his works on canvas (first displayed in his studio and then sold at auction) and then to work on the engraving, generally the reverse image, in which he would develop his moral and satiric vein. Furthermore, the substantial number of copies purchased not only boosted his income but also increased his popularity. After taking over the management of Vauxhall Gardens in 1729, 2 Jonathan Tyers, an outstanding businessman, transformed the layout and improved the interior decoration, adding ruins, arches, statues, a cascade, a music room, and Chinese pavilions, transforming it, in Thackeray´s words, to ‘the delight of all persons of reputation and taste’.3 In the centre of the Gardens, the Grove came into sight, with the orchestra bounded by approximately fifty supper boxes, each spacious enough to accommodate groups of a dozen diners, who could choose from a menu consisting of beverages, cold meats, salad, cheese, and a range of desserts. The Gardens were open every day apart from Sunday, from May to August, and were designed to attract anyone who could afford the charge of one shilling and who did not look disreputable as it also used to attract prostitutes and their clients. Notwithstanding its location across the river at Westminster and the fact that the bridge would only open in 1750, the journey across the river actually represented an essential part of the evening’s entertainment. Its picturesque setting and the distance from the crowded city proved enormously popular with all sections of society; besides being able to mingle with the nobility and the gentry (including the Prince of Wales, who was the real owner of the grounds), customers could emulate the Arcadian retreat depicted in the ‘Four Times of Day’ tradition. Bearing this in mind, Tyers’s commission of a set of paintings for the supper rooms seemed appropriate, since visitors could then pretend not only to have left 2

Properly called New Spring Gardens, the original Gardens must have opened in 1661. 3 William Makepeace Thackeray. 1985. Vanity Fair. 1847-48. Ed. with intro. by J. I. M. Stewart. (London: Penguin.), 90-91. The narrator of Thackeray’s Vanity Fair, set during the Napoleonic Wars, graphically records ‘the delights of the Gardens’ [...] ‘the hundred thousand extra lamps, which were always lighted; the fiddlers in cocked hats, who played ravishing melodies under the gilded cockle-shell in the midst of the Gardens; the singers […]; the country dances […]; the dark walks, so favourable to the interviews of young lovers; the pots of stout […]; and the twinkling boxes, in which the happy feasters made-believe to eat slices of almost invisible ham.’


Reading Colour in William Hogarth’s Noon

the city behind but also to have never witnessed such urban turmoil. On account of the insecure existence of paintings among food, drink, cutlery, crockery, and overenthusiastic diners, eventually only copies were used in the supper rooms at Vauxhall Gardens. Nonetheless, they were widely appreciated, particularly by male viewers who ‘could pretend to an intense interest in art while ogling the girl sitting in front of it’ (Picard 2000, 258) or one of the female figures in Noon similarly on display to the public gaze. In order to fulfil Tyers’s commission, Hogarth designed four vertical canvases entitled The Four Times of the Day, consisting of Morning, Noon, Evening, and Night (dated 1736 and measuring 74 by 62 cm). Unlike the concept of his earlier series, there does not seem to be a narrative sequence as such, inasmuch as each character belongs firmly to each individual painting and its specific location. In Morning, set in Covent Garden, near an infamous coffee house, a prudish lady heads to church amid the remnants of the previous night’s activities and the early bustle of the market. For Noon, the artist has chosen a recognisable though not very reputable neighbourhood (Hog Lane, now part of Charing Cross Road) as well as identifiable landmarks, such as the Greek Church, taken over by a French Huguenot congregation in 1682, and St Giles-in-theFields, whose steeple and clock tower are visible in the distance. The churchgoers have finished their prayers as the world outside has carried on in its course, with couples fighting and courting, children crying and feasting. In Evening, a heavily pregnant woman and her husband with three children in tow have fled the city to avoid the hot weather. Finally, in Night, some unfortunate tenants are escaping their landlord in Charing Cross Road, as an urban coach overturns, in the midst of barber shops, pubs and brothels. Incorporating the capital’s social and physical landscape produces a ‘reality effect’ (Hallett 2000, 121), a universe of allusions and conventions shared by artist, viewers and buyers alike in early eighteenth-century England, such as the knowledge of notorious figures, of representative social types or of classical and Christian iconography. When Hogarth decided to have the paintings engraved,4 he added a fifth image, Strolling Actresses Dressing in a Barn, which centres on the incongruence of classical deities in eighteenth-century Britain and on the intersection of acting and living on the streets and on the stage. Between the middle of 1737 and the beginning of 1738, a number of advertisements 4

Hogarth engraved the prints himself, with the exception of Evening, for which he enlisted the help of a French engraver, Bernard Baron.

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announced the opportunity to subscribe to the prints (measuring around 47 by 38cm), sold for one guinea (half on request and half on delivery). As far as the four paintings are concerned, they were sold at an auction in February 1745, with the Duke of Ancaster purchasing Noon for ₤38 17s; the work remains in the family collection at Grimsthorpe Castle, in Lincolnshire. The title of the series of paintings, The Four Times of the Day (1736), and its components, Morning, Noon, Evening, and Night, seem to signal Hogarth’s declared intention of aligning himself with an artistic tradition stretching back to Michelangelo’s Allegories of Night and Day (for Giuliano de’ Medici’s tomb), Twilight and Dawn (for Lorenzo de’ Medici’s). Created between 1524 and 1533, for the Medici Chapel, in Florence, these sculptures symbolised not only the perpetual cycle of existence but also the transience of life. This topos was cherished by Dutch, German, and French painters and engravers depicting the four seasons, the four ages of man [sic], and the four times of day, since ‘four symbolises the earthly, the totality of the created and the revealed’ (Chevalier and Gheerbrandt 1996, 402), encompassing life and death, ascension and decline. Initially, the allegorical content dominated, with classical gods and goddesses presiding over human activity in a pastoral context; gradually, coeval figures and settings came into prominence, with allegorical figures frequently relegated to a role of secondary importance and eventually banished. 5 Moreover, according to Paulson, Hogarth believed that the ‘cityscape [had become] the form of landscape painting most appropriate to England in the 1730s’ (Paulson 1992, 136), because the countryside was receding; however, its suppression from visual texts seemed to evoke the age when time was measured or estimated according to the sun, hence morning, noon, 6 evening, and night, instead of using mechanical devices, such as that on the clock tower of St Giles-in-theFields. A case in point is the abandoned kite, trapped on this urban church’s roof, instead of roaming free in the countryside. The positive associations of day with birth, hope, life, and light contrast favourably with the connection of night with the darker forces to 5

In sharp contrast, the French painter Nicolas Lancret conceived The Four Times of Day (1739-41) still firmly embracing the pastoral world and the more affluent social groups. The sequence portrays a progressive abandonment of conventional constrictions as the setting moves outside. The paintings hang in the National Gallery, London. 6 ‘Noon’ was originally the ninth hour of the day after sunrise, one of the seven canonical hours (nones; Latin nonus), i.e., between twelve noon and 3 pm. The word only took on the meaning of ‘midday’ in the thirteenth century.


Reading Colour in William Hogarth’s Noon

be unleashed into the world, confirmed by the classical image of Night, the daughter of Chaos, moving ‘across the sky, veiled in darkness on a chariot drawn by four black horses and followed by a retinue of maidens, Fates and Furies’ (Chevalier and Gheerbrandt 1996, 701). In consequence, noon or midday marks the middle of the day, literally, after which it begins its decline towards midnight. By virtue of being ‘the only moment when there is no shadow’ (Chevalier and Gheerbrandt 1996, 654), it stands for a fleeting moment of purity, which Hogarth disrupts by moving the clock back half an hour in the print and ten minutes in the painting, causing the figures to acquire slight shadows. Their transparency blurs the definition of colours in the painting. In addition, Hogarth responded to Tyers’s request by incorporating though subverting another graphic tradition, the bird’s-eye view of historical landmarks, of the recently built squares and of a city thoroughly cleansed of chaos, of dirt, of life. His skilful manipulation of the conventional representation codes of both practices results in a foregrounding of the viewers’ gaze, not only because it has descended to street level, where spectators seem to be ‘sharing the space’ with human figures, but equally due to the creation of the illusion of a ‘vicarious intimacy’ (Hallett 2001, 158). However, their self-absorbed appearance and the fact that some of the figures have turned their backs to us allow viewers the security and freedom of voyeurism, eliminating the possible confrontational stance and actions of a London street where French Protestant refugees and local working class people meet without acknowledging each other’s existence unless this becomes strictly necessary. The two groups seem to coexist, though worlds apart, as if the gutter has become the foundation of an invisible wall, separating classes (lower and middle/upper), nationalities (English and French), locations (public house and church), flesh and spirit symbolised by the different displays of affection (the spontaneous groping of the couple on the left-hand side of the print and the formal couple hardly touching amid the layers of clothing). The divide also seems to stem from the poles of reception, between the cultivated buyers of paintings (not as many as Hogarth longed for) and the popular customers of print shops, between those who could afford the entrance fee at Vauxhall and those who had to resort to staring at shop windows or hiring the prints for an evening. It is in this space between the groups as well as in the space between paintings and prints that meaning is created by the artist and (re)fashioned by spectators and readers. Across the gutter, the physical starvation of those reduced to eating food from the ground as well the spiritual hunger of those finding little relief in the routine of going to church converge in the portrayal of unsatisfied appetites, since the need for

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material food activates the need for sexual release. Hunger extends into the cannibalism of both signboards: the female fantasy of a submissive husband and the male fantasy of a silent woman. While the construction of meaning and its interpretation might depend on the familiarity of spectators, diners and strollers at the pleasure gardens with the artistic traditions of the ‘Four Times of Day’ and of the bird’s-eye view of the city (asserting their cultural superiority at being able to detect the allusions inscribed in the visual texts), less fortunate viewers, reduced to staring at similar prints in shop windows and public houses, recognised and empathised with the contrasts in clothing, in activities and in demeanour which the series displayed. Due to Hogarth’s renowned marketing strategies, contemporary critics may attribute this vast range of intentions to the author, in trying to attract as vast an audience as possible, however, producing meaning depends on the practice of interpretation, and interpretation is sustained by us [i.e., the author] actively using the codeencoding, putting things into the code - and by the person at the other end [i.e., the reader or spectator] interpreting or decoding the meaning’ (Hall 1997, 62; emphasis in the original).

The mutability of meanings implies that the authors’ absolute control over interpretation becomes tenuous at best; as a result, their intentions cannot hold the definitive key to their texts. The print serves as a graphic illustration of the fundamental principles Hogarth would formulate almost two decades later in his treatise, The Analysis of Beauty (1753), where the serpentine line stands for variety, intricacy and irregularity. The multitude of figures involved in individual actions contributes to the effect Hogarth was aiming at: that peculiarity in the lines, which compose [intricacy in form], that leads the eye a wanton kind of chace [sic], and from the pleasure that gives the mind, intitles [sic] it to the name of beautiful’ (Hogarth [1753] 1997, 33; emphasis in the original).

Drawing a line from the crouching girl to the affected little boy allows us to strive to encompass a way of reading: if we cling to the long-standing belief about the direction of reading in the West, that is, left to right, where the visual narrative culminates, then the excitement and emotion around the public building on the left are about to be undermined by the constraint and affection of those figures located on the right. On the other hand, if viewers are reminded of the technical inversion that engraving involves, then the painting subverts the composition, the events, the sequence, and


Reading Colour in William Hogarth’s Noon

the characters suddenly change places, with the formal couple on the left, where it all starts, and the public house on the right. This subversion seems to confirm Paulson’s assertion about the primacy of engravings with the painting serving as a blueprint (Paulson 1992a, 30). In the painting, the midday sun is associated with the red of flesh and blood, which the characters on the right-hand side seem to exemplify. On the one hand, the black man’s coat and dark red work sleeves (almost the only sign of a presence to be revealed more clearly in the print) and the young girl’s healthy cheeks and lips with the diffuse dab of paint, seemingly ineptly applied, along with the visible wisps of auburn hair in her bonnet, point to their genuineness. On the other hand, the bewigged figure of the woman on the left-hand side, whose corset constricts and hides her body, symbolises the suppression of emotions and the strict policing of conduct, here represented by the second generation French Huguenots. The blobs of bright red on her cheeks mirror the artificiality of her conduct as they are apparently disguising the sickly spots noticeable in the print (a sign of venereal disease, probably contracted from her husband, whose jawline is taken over by a huge mark). Whereas the painter may bow to convention and devise a beauty patch, the engraver has no qualms about showing what is underneath the mask. Hogarth conceived the eye as being attracted by the variety, intricacy and irregularity of lines (more discernible in prints); they ‘became the letters of his alphabet’ (Uglow 1997, 55), a language he could command in an increasingly visual and verbal world. He must have been aware of the ongoing dispute between the supporters of drawing and those of colour as well as of the artistic thinking on the subject, such as the statements made by French painter Charles Le Brun (1619-1690), who believed ‘the role of colour is exclusively to satisfy the eye, unlike design, which satisfies the intellect’ (Le Brun 2000, 184). Although both artists give preference to design, they fail to agree on the partiality of vision. As a founder member of the Académie Royale, First Painter to the King, Chancellor of the Academy and later Rector, Le Brun held a decisive position to dictate trends, standards and rules. His conferences on art reveal a preference for the superiority of the line, that is, the design, which could express emotions more accurately. Similarly, the French painter Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665) viewed colour as ‘a snare to persuade the eye’ (Poussin 2000, 75), a superfluous detail that might stand in the way of representing expression. However, this assertion would not stop him from using bold colours in his paintings, such as a red-haired crying youngster in the Rape

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of the Sabine Women,7 openly borrowed by Hogarth for the boy lamenting his lost meal. The monochrome of the prints seems to reflect a stronger narrative strain along with a more satiric tone, arguably aligning Hogarth with the adherents of the doctrine of design. The issue was not exclusively French as the English painter and collector Jonathan Richardson (1665-1745) asserted that ‘the print lets us see the master’s design and intention “naked’” (Paulson 1991b, 34). 8 Colour belonged in paintings to move viewers and enhance Hogarth’s status; prints allowed him to explore other themes and entice different audiences into his visual narratives. Although there were strong supporters of the primacy of design, the champions of colour believed that it defined their art. One of the most articulate was the French artist and critic Roger de Piles (1635-1709), who compared colour to the mind or soul of a painting, the element endowing it with a harmony comparable to musical accords. Equally, the French painter and writer Charles-Alphonse du Fresnoy (1611-1668) defended colour as a vital element in art against indictments of deceptiveness by other scholars. For the advocates of chromatics, colour was their language, a code whose components could be (re)arranged and combined to create harmony and convey meaning through its intensification or its reduction. In The Analysis of Beauty, Hogarth shows his awareness of the experiments conducted between 1662 and 1672 by the English scientist Isaac Newton (1642-1726) with the visible spectrum when he states that ‘there are but three original colours in painting besides black and white, [that is] red, yellow, and blue” (Hogarth 1997, 89), going on to mention ‘compounds’ such as green and purple. Newton had described his experiments with colours first in On Colour and then in Opticks (1704), where he developed the colour wheel with seven colours divided into primary (red, yellow and blue) and secondary (green, orange, violet), laying the foundations for the notion of complementary colours. In order to accompany and elaborate on his thinking, Hogarth created two plates divided into sections published as appendices to his treatise. In an image on one of these plates, the artist represents, as on a painter’s pallet, scales of these five original colours divided into seven classes [...] 4 is the medium [with the five colours appearing in sequence: i.e. red, yellow, blue, green, purple], and the most brilliant class, 7

This refers to a first version of the painting conceived between 1634 and 1635, which now hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 8 Jonathan Richardson wrote the Essay on the Theory of Painting (1715), which asserts the prestige of painting and the prominent status of artists.


Reading Colour in William Hogarth’s Noon being that which will appear a firm red, when those of 5, 6, 7, would deviate into white, and those of 1, 2, 3, would sink into black’ (Hogarth [1753] 1997, 89).9

Red, the colour associated with life through fire and blood, remains at the centre of this palette, although not in other works. In Self-Portrait with Palette (Paul Mellon Collection; c. 1735), an unfinished work slightly earlier than Noon, the artist displays the palette as a conventional accoutrement of the painter, here advertising the success of his first paintings after overcoming the initial ordeal of poverty and eschewing his identity as an engraver. From the thumb hole and anticlockwise, the viewer finds splashes of white, red and different hues of yellow, with the red presented as slightly more rounded and terminating with a flourish. The pallet remains a status accessory in a later painting, Hogarth Painting the Comic Muse (National Portrait Gallery, London; c. 1757), where colours are organized more conventionally, and the use of colour itself helps make the arrangement clearer. The artist is shown at work on a canvas, with the knife in his right hand while the left one holds palette and brushes. His palette emphasises the need for variety as a source of beauty. The initial arrangement has been kept, starting with white and red, then brown, yellow, to finish with blue. Although smaller in size, the painter’s implement appears at the centre of the painting with his thumb clearly noticeable, in marked contrast with its position in the previous work where it has been placed on the extreme right, virtually an afterthought, since it touches his chest but no finger is visible. Between these two pictures, Hogarth portrayed himself in The Painter and his Pug (Tate Gallery, London; 1745) in an oval frame resting on volumes by Shakespeare, Swift and Milton, not only claiming his debt to these authors but also asserting a parallel between them and himself. The palette is now free to take in his Line of Beauty, the serpentine line which became the origin of all harmony and beauty. Whilst preparing the engraving (and engaging in the advertising) of The Four Times of the Day, Hogarth published a letter in the St James Evening Post (dated 7th-9th June, 1737) and signed ‘Britophil’, defending the British artistic tradition (in which he believed he was playing a fundamental role) against obsolete continental models. This critical attitude included standards of female beauty, contrasting ordinary human beings in the streets of London with outdated statues, frequently poor 9 The reason behind the use of black and white in these plates seems obvious: colour plates would make the work inordinately expensive and thereby restricting its potential audience.

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copies of the classical originals: ‘That Grand Venus […] has not Beauty enough for the Character of an English Cook-Maid’ (quoted in Paulson 1971, 492; emphasis in the original). The combination of this assertion with one of his announcements for subscriptions to the engravings of The Four Times of the Day draws our attention to the representation of the female figure in Noon: in the print, on the left, a cook maid whose sensual abandonment and shapely fluid dress symbolises a manner of portraying the overflowing luxuriant city. This metaphor extends into the abundance of containers present on this side of the street, which still fail to contain all the life-enhancing liquids. Furthermore, the expanse of unspoiled white bosom on the left signals a clear conscience, whereas the spots on the other woman’s face point to unseemly conduct, thinly disguised in the painting by the use of red blush on the cheeks. Etymologically, allegory comes from the Greek word meaning speaking otherwise than how one seems to speak, which apparently takes the concept of deception and simulation further, with interpretation being possible across several levels. Not only do the literal and figurative levels become prominent (as readers cannot afford to mistake one for the other), but meaning and interpretation pose considerable challenges due to potential moral, social, religious, or political implications. Allegorical figures are often personifications of abstract concepts (or even concrete notions, such as the passage of time), with the height of imagery and symbolism at the artist’s disposal. In Noon, the midday sun is associated with the red of flesh and blood, which the characters on the right-hand side of the painting seem to exemplify, in the work sleeves of the black man’s coat (almost the only sign of his presence), in the young girl’s cheeks and lips (the diffuse dab of paint pointing to its genuineness by contrast with the artificiality of the older woman’s blobs of colour). Two decades later, in his aesthetic treatise, The Analysis of Beauty (1753), Hogarth posits ‘living women’ as the original creation that ‘the Grecian Venus’ is simply ‘coarsely imitate[ing]’ (Hogarth [1753] 1997, 59). The all-revealing and unforgiving sun shedding light on the affair of this London Venus and her African Mars symbolises a masculine and active presence, submerging the world with intense heat. As a result, Hogarth seems to voice his approval of the couple on the left-hand side of the print, although contemporaries may have been shocked at such a display of carnality as it shows a greater extent of cleavage than in the painting. In Noon, the expanse of white bosom, the girl’s bonnet and sleeves appear in striking contrast with the black hands exposing it. On the one hand, the visual text constructs a subject position for the female figure


Reading Colour in William Hogarth’s Noon

under analysis, looked at, but not looking, subjected to the power of the owner of the eyes (painting/ print owner or print shop customer). The positioning of subjects within discourses depends on the viewers’ acceptance of this situation, on their compliance with the construction of desires, fantasies, and impulses, activated by the visual text. The pleasure derived from looking at a woman as a sexual object centres on the gaze of the male agent: ‘in their traditional exhibitionist role women are simultaneously looked at and displayed, with their appearance coded for strong visual and erotic impact so that they can be said to connote to-belooked-at-ness’ (Mulvey 2003, 47-48; emphasis in the original). Apparently, women’s bodies seem constructed in visual language as carriers of this innate ability to draw men’s gaze, even involuntarily, more so if they are designed to be shown in a supper room at a pleasure garden where secret assignations may take place. On the other hand, the black man’s apparent mutilation stems from his social invisibility and from a lack of political representation, emphasised in the painting, in which he is hardly discernible; this seems to be just another form of slave work as in effect he has become a prop. In the preface to Serious Reflections during the Life and Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (1720), the writer Daniel Defoe (c. 1659/1661-1731) reminds readers that: ‘it is as reasonable to represent one kind of imprisonment by another, as it is to represent anything that really exists by that which exists not’ (quoted in Paulson 1992b, 329-330). Accordingly, it becomes reasonable to represent black people’s political invisibility by this fragmented body. In this case, the construction of race and gender differences hinges on the double meaning of representation: verbal and visual creations, and enfranchisement. By virtue of a deficiency in the latter, the former become constrained by the systems of representation which both construct race and gender identities and reflect those end results. Both women and people from other races (that is, non white) end up trapped in roles not of their own making. Texts work on the boundary between what they express explicitly (whether in the title or in the figures and events portrayed) and what they do not or cannot articulate. The equivalent of ‘reading between the lines’ in a visual text assumes viewers are able to confront their own mental representations of the issues at stake; the marginality of eighteenth-century black people has been foregrounded over two centuries later, together with the thorny question of slavery. Our modern way of seeing fits uneasily with an earlier way of saying. Although the mere reference to the number of Africans transported and uprooted by European colonial nations between the fifteenth and the nineteenth centuries fails to represent the unrepresentable, out of over

Marcia Marques


twenty million human beings, a staggering nine million people survived the horrific Middle Passage (from Africa to the Caribbean) to be subjected to the abuse of owners who viewed their slaves as a different, hence inferior, species. Most representations (whether verbal or visual) end up shrinking from depicting the terrible ordeal, the intense pain, and the unending anguish of slave existence from capture to death. While apparently conforming to a stereotype of unrestrained sensuality and lustful behaviour, in Noon, the artist manages to confront shocked spectators (within and without the painting) with the possibility of desire between different races. Some critics go so far as stating that: “Every story Hogarth tells, every parable of art he unfolds, is seen from the point of view of the alien Other” (Paulson 1992a, 228), those who are not white, free, masters, rich or men. This man’s presence, even if marginal, forces viewers to confront their own mental representations of difference. In The Analysis of Beauty, Hogarth is more concerned with the colouring of flesh, a thorny issue in eighteenth-century society on account of race and also of masquerade. Being on the margins of Noon, and by extension of society, in this man converge issues of race as Hogarth reflects on the representation of flesh, confirming the results of an autopsy which the Italian doctor Marcello Malpighi (1628-1694) had performed on a black male in the seventeenth century, endorsed by Hogarth: all mankind, have the same appearance, and are alike disagreeable to the eye, when the upper skin is taken away […] The cutis is composed of tender threads like network, fill’d with different colour’d juices. The white juice serves to make the very fair complexion; […] black, the negro; ─ These different colour’d juices, together with the different mashes of the network, and the size of its threads in this or that part, causes the variety of complexions (Hogarth [1753] 1997, 88; emphasis in the original).

At this point, the author draws the readers’ attention to a figure included in one of the accompanying plates, confirming his views on skin colour. A woman’s lower face is depicted in dark grey to convey the appearance of cutis, while her forehead and eyes are portrayed in white: in a single face, the contrast becomes even more striking. Death comes as the end to all, regardless of race. Through the use of the microscope, Malpighi had discovered the basal layer of the epidermis (which takes his name) where melanin is produced, but his experiments were neither unique nor pioneering. Due to the polysemous nature of the word colour, issues about the origin of human pigmentation became entangled in a reading of colour. For some, colour or complexion lay on the surface and therefore the result of a regional


Reading Colour in William Hogarth’s Noon

characteristic; for others, it was a consequence of the body’s humours. However, two English scientists, Thomas Browne (1605-1682) and Robert Boyle (1627-1691), had already posited an inherited reason behind blackness before Malpighi was able to identify the skin layers responsible for different types of complexion. In particular, Boyle asserted the importance of experimentation, notably dissections, and published Experiments and Considerations Touching Colours, with Observations on a Diamond that Shines in the Dark (1664), where he claimed that colour was only skin deep and did not permeate more profoundly. In the semiotic gap created between painting and print, between what images may say and what viewers might read, Noon creates a space where reading colours may colour our reading, just as it did its original viewers’. Our distance from their horizon of expectations demands that we, in the words of Jenny Uglow ‘frame the narrative and fill the gaps’ (Uglow 1997, xv). In order to access the mentalities of the original viewers, their contemporary peers need to realise how issues of colour permeated the debate on slavery and on the superiority of white people, as this intersected with discussions about the range of available colours to represent (another thorny subject matter) available views of reality. According to Paulson, ‘in the paintings he could convey sensuous qualities, parallels and contrasts, which could not be conveyed except by colours and brushwork and a shifting focus that sharpened and softened’ (Paulson 1992a, 150). Hogarth could not stop being a painter and making use of all the colours and textures available; likewise, he would never give up engraving. Both activities represented his position in the artistic world: the desire for respect and the ability to move viewers’ minds and hearts as well as the need to create legible narratives to instruct his spectators. The permanence of William Hogarth and his questions derives not only from his involvement with painting, compelling him to rethink colours and their function, but also with engraving, where his Line of Beauty leads our eyes around a multifaceted stage with multiple layers of meaning.

Marcia Marques


Fig. 1: William Hogarth, The Four Times of Day / Noon (1738).

© Trustees of the British Museum

References Bindman, David, Frédéric Ogée, and Peter Wagner, eds. 2001. Hogarth: Representing Nature’s Machines. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Chevalier, Jean, and Alain Gheerbrant. 1996. The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols. Trans. John Buchanan-Brown. London: Penguin. Trans. of Dictionnaire des Symboles (1982). Paris: Editions Robert Laffont et


Reading Colour in William Hogarth’s Noon

Editions Jupiter. Evans, Jessica, and Stuart Hall, eds. (1999) 2005. Visual Culture: The Reader. London: Sage and The Open University. Jones, Amelia, ed. 2003. The Feminism and Visual Culture Reader. London: Routledge. Hall, Stuart, ed. 1997. Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices. London: Sage; Milton Keynes: The Open University. Hall, Stuart. 1997. “The Work of Representation”. In Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices, edited by Stuart Hall, 13-74. London: Sage; Milton Keynes: The Open University. Hallett, Mark. 2000. Hogarth. London: Phaidon. —. 2001. “The View Across the City.” In Hogarth: Representing Nature’s Machines, edited by David Bindman, Frédéric Ogée, and Peter Wagner, 146-162. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Hallett, Mark and Christine Riding. 2006. Hogarth. London: Tate. Harrison, Charles, Paul Wood, and Jason Gaiger, eds. 2000. Art in Theory, 1648-1815: An Anthology of Changing Ideas. Malden, MA: Blackwell. Hogarth, William. (1753) 1955. The Analysis of Beauty, with the Rejected Passages from the Manuscript Drafts and Autobiographical Notes. Ed. Joseph Burke. Oxford: Clarendon Press. —. (1753) 1997. The Analysis of Beauty. Edited by Ronald Paulson. New Haven & London: Yale University Press. Kress, Gunther, and Theo van Leeuwen. 2010. Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design. 1996. London: Routledge. Le Brun, Charles. (1672) 2000. “Thoughts on M. Blanchard’s Discourse on the Merits of Colour.” In Art in Theory, 1648-1815: An Anthology of Changing Ideas, edited by Charles Harrison, Paul Wood, and Jason Gaiger, 182-185. Malden, MA: Blackwell. Mulvey, Laura. (1975) 2003. “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” In The Feminism and Visual Culture Reader, edited by Amelia Jones, 4453. London: Routledge. Ogée, Frédéric, and Olivier Meslay. 2006. “William Hogarth and Modernity.” In Hogarth, edited by Mark Hallett and Christine Riding, 23-29. London: Tate. Paulson, Ronald. 1971. Hogarth: His Life, Art, and Times. Vol. 2. New Haven & London: Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, London, by the Yale University Press. 2 vols. —. 1992a. Hogarth: High Art and Low 1732-1750. Vol. 2. Cambridge: Lutterworth. 3 vols. —. 1992b. Hogarth: The ‘Modern Moral Subject’ 1697-1732. Vol. 1.

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Cambridge: Lutterworth. 3 vols. Picard, Liza (2000). Dr Johnson’s London: Everyday Life in London 17401770. London: Phoenix. Poussin, Nicolas. (1660-65) 2000. “Observations on Painting.” In Art in Theory, 1648-1815: An Anthology of Changing Ideas, edited by Charles Harrison, Paul Wood, and Jason Gaiger, 71-75. Malden, MA: Blackwell. Shesgreen, Sean, ed. 1973. Engravings by Hogarth: 101 Prints. New York: Dover. Shesgreen, Sean. 2002. Images of the Outcast: The Urban Poor in the Cries of London. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Sturken, Marita, and Lisa Cartwright. 2001. Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Thackeray, William Makepeace. 1985. Vanity Fair. 1847-48. Ed. with intro. by J. I. M. Stewart. London: Penguin. Uglow, Jenny. 2002. Hogarth: A Life and a World. London: Faber and Faber.


“The senses don't deceive, but judgement does”» Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Maxims and Reflexions, Maxim Nr. 2951

Overture A few hours after an ischemic cerebrovascular accident in her left temporal region, I gaze at the skin colour of the Caucasian woman. Nothing would make us believe that something had forever changed helplessly. Her skin, its peach like velvet texture, lightly livened by couperose, seemed livelier than ever. And yet, the same blood that responded to the life in her body, a response that the epidermis made proof of, was the same blood that had over-thickened and eternally killed a part of her being. In the skin colour, stained by tiny old age spots, the counting of the days and nights that she no longer would recollect kept moving on in the ignorance of its fixed, though predictable, term. On the epidermis, there could still be read the traces of an identity; as opposed to a name, in itself an attribute exterior to being, her identity had become visible in birth and had created itself in a process of metamorphosis, allowing the being to let herself be read until she would disappear. This, the translatability of the epidermis, now becomes its own mark of life, as if it were an organ extensible to the whole body, also due to its subjective ability to stimulate the perception of what each one is in 1 Goethes Werke, Hamburger Ausgabe, in 14 Bänden, Band 12 (Kunst und Literatur), Erich Trunz (ed.),München: Verlag C.H. Beck, (10) 1982, p. 406.. «Die Sinne trügen nicht, das Urteil trügt.» My translation.

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their own skins. In this process, the beholder looks for meaning and significance on that porous, hairy, fertile screen, but remains an outsider. The skin of the Caucasian woman was far from the greyish colouration that comes with death, or from the purple shades and waxy aspect of the subsequent half hour. And it was still further from the greenish and bluish tonality that accompanies rigor mortis. Her skin had the colour of diaphanous spirituality, the colour of a being beyond concrete reality, making one realize how much she had accomplished and the life therein contained. What was the colour of all that? What colour should one give to what one captures of what was lived through, something that can only be captured using our own effort? From the outside, the eyes glued to that skin, one could breathe in the feelings that seemed to be running through, turning her face into a translucid surface with a matt shine that spread itself over an indefinite colour, the colour of the living fluids that announced the colour of life.

The water medium and the dioptric colours In the preface to his Theory of Colours, published for the first time in 1810, Goethe tells us that colours «are acts of light, acts and passions».2 More than creating a definition for the phenomenon that occurs when light becomes colour and is perceived by the human and animal eye, Goethe establishes a relationship of immediate affinity between both light and colour, recognizing in that remark the potentiating of a feeling: passion. Thus, he attributes to light a characteristic that is typical of human beings, by means of which the beholder is illuminated, not only in his capability to use the retina, the optical nerve and the nervous system, but essentially by means of the organ of passions: one’s own heart. This affinity between light and colour, on becoming extensive to the beholder’s gaze (the heart of light communicates with the heart of the human being and vice-versa), derives from the power of attraction and reflection, which propels the heart and becomes manifest as a sensible, receptive and selfdriving energy in the domain of a visual phenomenon. To Goethe, the perception and interpretation of colours links this process closely to the essence of the very colour triggered by passion-light, 2

Goethes Werke, Hamburger Ausgabe, in 14 Bänden, Band 13 (Naturwissenschaftliche Schriften), Erich Trunz (ed.), München: Verlag C.H. Beck, (9) 1982, S. 317. «Die Farben sind Taten des Lichts, Taten und Leiden.» My translation. Otherwise, Goethe is cited from the only translation available for The Theory of Colours, referred to in note 1. Any minor changes introduced will be signalled by «slightly modified».

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and it does so as a vital principle, and on that condition, it applies the very principle of understanding nature as a whole. Taking this into account, good communication between body and mind, between body and spirit (maybe one should also say here anima), derives from the idea that nature simultaneously potentiates its unity and its diversity. As Goethe says very pragmatically: «In order to grasp the phenomena of the Theory of Colours nothing else is required but pure observation and a sound head; but both are actually more rare than one might think.»3 Hence, one may infer that the heart of light is capable of making the most inner fibres of each human heart vibrate, since Goethe’s primordial images, coming from an original phenomenon – Urphänomen – contain in themselves the expression of the idea and, at the same time, the glimpse of the sensuous image grasped by the senses. As a general principle, the primordial phenomenon reveals itself by the inseparability of what lies in its own condition, and something of this condition can only be grasped on having observed it successively and thoroughly. Taking that into account, the appearance of colour under light is assumed to produce a sort of mood of attraction, possibly of repulsion, in us and which can never become an object of indifference. And this occurs, even when one thinks that the empirical gaze can at any time reunite in itself the ability that allows us to behold and enjoy colour with or without the object. Thus, one infers that the capability to behold one or two colours with great attention, whether associated with objects or not, for instance, alternatively when part of a friendly face, may lead us down two potentially intercepting paths. In the first case, we find vestiges of knowing from experience, of a knowing of the senses, which pre-announces in each situation the fact that we may eventually discover, by being attentive beholders, the methodology of what we observe without letting nature inside and outside ourselves know any affectation: «It is always and only about our eyes, our modes of representation; nature knows on its own, what it wants, and what it has wanted» (Maxim 247).4 This idea has already gained consistence in 3

Johann Peter Eckermann, Gespräche mit Goethe in den letzten Jahren seines Lebens, Herausgegeben von Otto Schönberger, Stuttgart: Philipp Reclam jun., 1998, S. 197-198. «Um die Phänomene der Farbenlehre zu begreifen gehört weiter nichts als ein reines Anschauen und ein gesunder Kopf; allein beides ist freilich seltener als man glauben sollte.» 4 Goethes Werke, Hamburger Ausgabe, in 14 Bänden, Band 12 (Kunst und Literatur), Erich Trunz (ed.), Munich: Verlag C.H. Beck, (10) 1982, p. 399. My translation «Es sind immer nur unsere Augen, unsere Vorstellungsarten; die Natur weiß ganz allein, was sie will, was sie gewollt hat.»

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the Preface to the Theory of Colours – Didactical part, where Goethe claims as principle the articulation of the ultimate theoretical knowing with experience in the world: «Thus, the mere act of looking at something will be of no benefit to us whatsoever. Every seeing leads to consideration, consideration to thinking, thinking to combination, and we may therefore state that every attentive look into the world already theorizes.»5 The second path questions how seeing attentively produces in us a mood that may make us become potentiating expansive agents, that is, we occupy ourselves in a more chirurgical manner, and now we see what we had not seen before, or had looked at with other eyes. This mood leads us to discover, in ourselves, new organs, new nuclear centers, that we reach because we were good beholders, because we knew how to fulfil nature in ourselves, and this opened up the possibility of learning how to relate that which has newly arrived to that which existed before. From that perspective, Goethe questions himself about colour belonging to a face, having the intuition that in the colour there lies the phenomenological totality of what happens in the life of each being: «And doesn’t the colour actually belong to the face?»6 (Maxim 695). The capability to read colour, apart from its obvious physiological, physical and chemical conditions, always demands that passion-light, as producer of colour, offers itself indivisibly. And into the colour of the face our life keeps on coming and, while that takes place, there is the chance of a reunion between the colour which surprises us from the outside and the colour that inside ourselves helps us build a new constellation, as if it were a magnetic bond with our life. For Goethe, there is no separation at all between gazing at things and reflecting on those things. And even less so, there is no disarticulation that may hinder a set of organized elements comparable to a human being (in this case, the interaction between the production and the reception of colour) from becoming a communicative part of an organism. The 5

Goethes Werke, Hamburger Ausgabe, in 14 Bänden, Band 13 (Naturwissenschaftliche Schriften), Erich Trunz (ed.), Munich: Verlag C.H. Beck, (9) 1982, p. 317. My translation. «Denn das bloße Anblicken einer Sache kann uns nicht fördern. Jedes Ansehen geht über in ein Betrachten, jedes Betrachten in ein Sinnen, jedes Sinnen in ein Verknüpfen, und so kann man sagen, daß wir schon bei jedem aufmerksamen Blick in die Welt theorisieren.» See also Goethe’s Theory of Colours; the 1840 translation by Charles Locke Eastlake, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London: M.I.T. Press., 1970, p. XL; translation partly modified. 6 Op. cit., p. 464. «Und gehört die Farbe nicht ganz eigentlich dem Gesicht an?» My translation.

182 Brief Reflections on the Idea of Colour in Goethe, Kandinsky and Klee

methodology he pursues in each moment considers, and independent of the order of factors, the following: (1) field work in the appreciation of the presence of colour, taking natural phenomena as a source; (2) collecting oneself in the space of experimenting, beholding and proving results obtained in the laboratory; (3) Goethe questioning himself, in the presence of friends and scholars, or corresponding with them, about his Theory of Colours. The longest work in his life, Goethe is still discussing it with his daughter-in-law on his dying day,7 was not aimed at studying the eye or light per se, but was instead aimed at discovering the possible affinities between them, and how colours could reveal themselves through them. The task of creating affinity between light and colour is multiple and singular because, even while the cause-effect relation does not escape from us, feeling, its natural characteristic, does slip away. It is by feeling that we recognize the glow that lives in light originated colour and that we realize that the most intimate access to family bonds between two manifestations of nature takes place when we become capable of beholding, calmly and gently, just what makes them akin. When in paragraph 164 of the Theory of Colours we read that The bottom of the sea appears of a purple colour to divers in bright sunshine,8 we recognize that we do not have to pay attention to the frequency of the colour mentioned (between 668 and 789 THz), or to its wave length (350450nm) in order to identify it, or to the action of the passion-light sent by the sun, that which runs through the colourless water medium, where both light and darkness charge themselves with the production of an effect of colour. The eye sees purple and, from the shadows around, there emerges a green colour. That phenomenon (described in §164), that identified with dioptric colours, fleeting colours hard affix, Goethe makes akin to another (described in §75) that he managed to behold on the occasion of going out into the Harz mountains. There, in the peak of winter, climbing down onto the plains, coming from the Brocken, the German naturalist confirms the presence of the effects of sunset on the landscape: “During the day, owing to the yellowish hue of the snow, shadows tending to violet had already been observable; these might now be pronounced to be decidedly blue, as the illumined parts exhibited a saturated yellow. But, as the sun at last was about to set, and its rays, greatly mitigated by the thicker vapours, a most beautiful purple colour began to diffuse over the whole scene around me, the shadow colour changed to a green, in 7

Op. cit., p. 618. Op. cit., p. 364. «Der Grund des Meeres erscheint den Tauchern bei hellem Sonnenschein purpurfarb ...» My translation. 8

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lightness to be compared to a sea-green, in beauty to the green of the emerald. The appearance became more and more vivid: one might have imagined oneself in a fairy world, for every object had clothed itself in the two vivid and so beautifully harmonizing colours, until at last, as the sun went down, the magnificent spectacle was lost in a grey twilight, and by degrees in a clear moon-and-starlit night.”9

The experience (in the mountain) and inferring by means of comparison and from the testimony of others (the depth of the sea) are contemporary in the life of Goethe, in his experience as a scientist and in the confirmation and conviction that natural phenomena maintain a harmonic affinity with nature.

Potentiating colour and appearances of lived experiences Kandinsky recognized in Goethe an exceptional interlocutor for his inquietude about art, particularly as regards colour. Nonetheless, he always shunned him so that the artistic being that dwelled in himself should not be overshadowed. 10 Moreover, from Goethe, Kandinsky learned how to observe colour as an objective reality, as a pictorial element, conceiving it as a living being. Always omitting the name of the German naturalist, as well as the paternity of the knowing that that he had received from him, in Concerning the Spiritual in Art, Kandinsky develops a Theory of Colours 9

Op. cit., p. 348. «Waren den Tag über, bei dem gelblichen Ton des Schnees, schon leise violette Schatten bemerklich gewesen, so mußte ma sie nun für hochblau ansprechen, als ein gesteigertes Gelb von den beleuchteten Teilen widerschien. Als aber die Sonne sich endlich ihrem Niedergang näherte und ihr durch die stärkeren Dünste höchst gemäßigter Strahl die ganze mich umgebende Welt mit der schönsten Purpurfarbe überzog, da verwandelte sich die Schattenfarbe in ein Grün, das nach seine Klarheit einem Meergrün, nach seiner Schönheit einem Smaragdgrün verglichen werden konnte. Die Erscheinung ward immer lebhafter, man glaubte sich in einer Feenwelt zu befinden, denn alles hatte sich in die zwei lebhaften und so schön übereinstimmenden Farben gekleidet, bis endlich mit dem Sonnenuntergang die Prachterscheinung sich in eine graue Dämmerung und nach und nach in eine mond- und sternhelle Nacht verlor.» My translation. 10 On this topic, see Barbara Hentschel, Kandinsky und Goethe – Über das Geistige in der Kunst in der Tradition Goethescher Naturwissenschaft, Berlin: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag, pp. 59-63. Anabela Mendes, APEG Conference, Porto, February, 19, 2005, entitled “Werkschöpfgung ist Weltschöpfgung” – Goethe bei Kandinsky: Der abgehauene Finger, das Thermometer, der Herr und der Sklave; 12 pages, especially, pp. 8-10.

184 Brief Reflections on the Idea of Colour in Goethe, Kandinsky and Klee

resembling very closely that put forward by Goethe. Affinities between them become manifest, for example, in the conception of pairs of opposites and in polarizations (warm and cold colours such as yellow and blue, light and dark colours such as white and black), but also in proposing scales for the valuation of colour which potentiate colour as a sensitive element (one could almost refer to such an effect in its double physical and optical dimension), and which attribute an animist capacity to colour, thus rendering colour capable of assimilating contents. In a passage from Kandinsky’s answer to a 1929 survey, concerning an Applied Psychology study on the role of consciousness in the creative process,11 the painter recalls the effects caused by the exterior world in himself in a succession of tiny stimuli: “some natural occurrence, natural phenomenon, a street scene, a “chance” effect of light, just a mail box, a mail box by a fruit shop, people in the fields, in a café, theater, tram, etc..” 12 In these vertiginous impressions, with special attention to the vibration of objects and their colours, the painter underscores the sensorial relevance that such “spiritual” experiences hold in the context of the creation of the pictorial idea: «In any case, colours (and to a certain extent “form”) are for me bound up with these other senses, i.e., that is how I experience them.»13 Just as colour is an act of light for Goethe, merging with it in the quality of energetic phenomenon, we find in Kandinsky a similar standpoint still furthermore highlighted by the effect that colour provokes in the body, by its predisposition to associate contents, to be sensitive to moral and spiritual values, even to those most difficult to express, such as birth and death. Their conception of colour becomes less theoretical and indeed gains the contour of descriptions based on self-experience once we behold images where the origin of the refraction of light turns out diffuse and difficult to determine, as in image one and two, where the rainbow encompasses the sea, the clouds or the mist and the waterfall. Let us now dwell on the purple and the green that inspired the divers that Goethe refers to. Goethe’s purple emerging from the bottom of the sea or from the valley between mountains is an appearance of nature just as the light that endows it with life, and it is under this condition that the human presence renders its own beauty to colour along with an unmistakable 11

Kenneth C. Lindsay and Peter Vergo (ed.), Kandinsky, Complete Writings on Art, Paris, New York: Da Capo Press, 1994, pp. 737-740. The aforementioned study sent the survey that Kandinsky answered is by Paul Plaut, Die Psychologie der produktiven Persönlichkeit, Stuttgart, 1929. 12 Op. cit., p. 737. 13 Op. cit. p. 738.

Anabela Mendes


and indissoluble truth. However, the related cases are in themselves distinct. Regarding the divers, whoever they might have been, whether noone in particular, we only know that they dive in the direction of the bottom of the sea and that they perceive a purple colour and a green colour, as light and shadow intersect each other. Goethe, as he walks, adds a content of truth to the perceived things that becomes inseparable, thus transmitting us a secret that he did not want to keep: his solitary walk inbetween nature. The description in §75 in his Theory of Colours allows for our surprising the naturalist and the poet in the same instance as his existence and in his essence, as he becomes indistinguishable from the elemental world to which the colour gives tension and vibration through to the last moment of the day. Had the scene of the divers been an example to Kandinsky (in scientific terms it might well have been), his purple, violet, lilac (depending on the proportion between red and blue), or the shady green, might come out under the shadow and the spell of the weight of the nouns and adjectives that make us lose the ground of colour: “Violet is thus a cooled-down red, in both a physical and a psychological sense. It therefore has something sad, an air of something sickly, something extinguished about it (like a slag heap!). It is not for nothing that this colour is considered suitable for the clothes of old women. The Chinese in fact use it as the colour of mourning. It is like the sound of the cor-anglais, of the shawn, and in its deeper tones resembles those of the lower woodwind (e.g., the bassoon).”14

In the chapter The Language of Forms and Colours in Concerning the Spiritual in Art, where this quotation is taken from, we come across the description of misanthrope violet, deprived now of the connotations of Goethean sublimity. Kandinsky’s exposé on purple violet carries the burden of mourning and aging which is culturally accepted, and aggregates the acoustic image of wind instruments deprived of shine or triumph, not because such instruments are not apt for festive sounds, but because in the space of the affinities they themselves are the symbol of mourning wrapping up colour in such a way that there is no longer space for transmissibility between the natural phenomenon and the aesthetic phenomenon. The Kandinskian violet seems saturated as is the case with all his colours. Indeed, this still does not prevent the colour of his pictorial art 14

Op. cit. p. 189. And also Kandinsky, Über das Geistige in der Kunst, mit einer Einführung von Max Bill, Bern: Benteli Verlag, 1952, pp. 102-103.

186 Brief Reflections on the Idea of Colour in Goethe, Kandinsky and Klee

from affecting our emotions to the verge of annihilation. In Goethe, we have the unpretentious colourist, the draftsman, the aquarellist that looks for his idea of the natural, of the monstrous beauty in the vicinity of life. In Kandinsky, we learn that the work of art does not suffer from ultimate extinction as life does, and is, instead, life’s most complete sarcophagus and place of reminiscence.

Between the earth and cosmic space: the rainbow Contrariwise to Kandinsky, Klee is proud of how much he learned from his masters and correspondingly does not allow their names to be forgotten when one day deciding to say something about colours. The names of Goethe, Philipp Otto Runge, Delacroix and also Kandinsky are recalled in fraternal and supportive words.15 Klee thus talks about colours, of colours in their most expressive chromatic purity, knowing that they will not let themselves be fixed, because they cannot be affixed. We are dealing here with the spectral beauty of the colours of the rainbow (see Fig. 1, Fig. 2), that natural, empirical, optical and meteorological phenomenon that Klee maintains takes place «not on the earth but in the atmosphere, the intermediate realm between earth and outer cosmos».16 This is the solar light, passion-light for Goethe, irradiating colour by decomposition, now scattered and reflected in minuscule drops of water intermediated by nature, which communicates magically to those observing it. In its almost paradoxically semi-perfect perfection (the interval between Earth and cosmic space announces transcendence even while remaining incomplete), the rainbow is the powerful apparent image of a linear synthesis of six pure colours and not seven. The spectrum of colours we invented exists in the rainbow, where we distinguish the orange from the red, naming them distinctively, should have contemplated different attributes to violet with more red and to violet with more blue. As this is not the case, and as these are not pure colours, Klee re-unites in only one colour what is specific of colour, as if in that union there could coexist the origin and the decline of colour:


Jürg Spiller (ed.), Paul Klee – Das bildnerische Denken, Band 1, Basel: Scwabe & Co. AG Verlag, 1990, p. 467. Jürg Spiller (ed.), Paul Klee Notebooks, Volume 1, The Thinking Eye, translated by Ralph Manheim, Woodstock, New York: The Overlook Press, 1992, p. 467. 16 Jürg Spiller (ed.), Paul Klee – Das bildnerische Denken, Band 1, Basel: Scwabe & Co. AG Verlag, 1990, p. 467.

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“We shall simply say this: that we are dealing with two halves, that the two halves should become a whole, the two violets, and that the two mysterious ends of the one string should be tied together at infinity (endlessness).”17

Limited as we are, by nature, as regards our understanding and expression in the language used to denote colours that so often slip away from us (magenta is a fundamental colour in the rainbow in order to understand all the other colours but its name hardly ever gets mentioned), because they become manifest as they are in the precise moment when they no longer are, we can only know by intuition how Klee, based on his observation of the rainbow, builds his model of transcendental inspiration on colour. Violet over violet stands as a non-beginning and a never-ending colour, a being and already a non-being, a making itself seen as the recollection we have of colour, creating the most complete relation between each one of them. Who can say that we shall be capable of understanding the internal logic of each one of those violets or of the purples? Or of each one of the colours in nature? Alien to etymology or historical evolution, the individual nomination of colours can only contemplate being a product of an act of imagination, which aligns with the feeling of the beholder. Violet and Klee’s violet aspire to cosmic redemption a «synthesis, at least, of transcendent perfection» 18 and can symbolize, by means of an analogy based on position, the outdoing of Aristophanes’ dilaceration as mentioned in Plato’s Symposium.

References Eckermann, Johann Peter Gespräche mit Goethe in den letzten Jahren seines Lebens, Herausgegeben von Otto Schönberger, Stuttgart: Philipp Reclam jun., 1998. Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, Goethe’s Theory of Colours, 1840 translation by Charles Locke Eastlake, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London: M.I.T. Press., 1970. Hentschel, Barbara, Kandinsky und Goethe – Über das Geistige in der Kunst in der Tradition Goethescher Naturwissenschaft, Berlin: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag, 2000. Kandinsky, Wassily, Über das Geistige in der Kunst, mit einer Einführung von Max Bill, Bern: Benteli Verlag, 1952. 17 18

Op. cit., 469. Op. cit., 467.

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Lindsay, Kenneth C. and Vergo, Peter (ed.), Kandinsky, Complete Writings on Art, Paris, New York: Da Capo Press, 1994. Mendes, Anabela, APEG Conference, Porto, February, 19, 2005, entitled “Werkschöpfgung ist Weltschöpfgung” – Goethe bei Kandinsky: Der abgehauene Finger, das Thermometer, der Herr und der Sklave. Plaut, Paul, Die Psychologie der produktiven Persönlichkeit, Stuttgart, 1929. Spiller, Jürg (ed.), Paul Klee – Das bildnerische Denken, Band 1, Basel: Schwabe & Co. AG Verlag, 1990. Spiller, Jürg (ed.), Paul Klee Notebooks, Volume 1, The Thinking Eye, translated by Ralph Manheim, Woodstock, New York: The Overlook Press, 1992. Trunz, Erich (ed.), Goethes Werke, Hamburger Ausgabe, in 14 Bänden, Band 12 (Kunst und Literatur), München: Verlag C.H. Beck, (10) 1982. Trunz, Erich (ed.), Goethes Werke, Hamburger Ausgabe, in 14 Bänden, Band 13 (Naturwissenschaftliche Schriften), , München: Verlag C.H. Beck, (9) 1982.



Colour and context United Arab Emirates (UAE) was founded in 1971 a union of seven emirates, after Britain withdrew from its protectorate Trucial States. The seven emirates are Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah, Ajman, Fujairah and Umm Al Quwain with each governed by a ruler (or sheikh), who is the head of the respective royal family. The ruler of Abu Dhabi also is the president of the country, while the ruler of Dubai serves as prime minister. UAE borders Saudi Arabia and Oman. Iran is located across the Gulf to the north. The urbanized areas are mainly spread out along the Gulf coast. Inland regions are desert, with the exception of some oasis towns and small outposts. Islam is the official religion and Arabic is the official language although English is widely spoken. Approximately 80% of UAE residents are expatriates. Hasan et al (2011) argue that in both English and Arabic “colourterms” (commonly used phrases involving colour) both reveal and also shape people’s perceptions of colours. Much colour perception comes from nature and geography. Green is considered soothing by the subjects of many studies because of its association with nature. Similarly, blue benefits from its association with water, and yellow from its association with the sun. On the negative side, grey gains a negative perception as it is reminiscent of cloudy weather. Nature, however, is not the only source of meaning. Colour also associates with social life and cultural practices. Those teaching university courses related to the built environment in the UAE, find themselves influencing student tastes and opinions, based on a sense of aesthetics drawn from western research and beliefs. Since most university educators in design-related fields such as Urban Planning, Architecture and Interior Design are western-educated, classroom instruction often tends to draw on the western experience. Through this

Surajit Chakravarty, Patricia Ball


study we attempt to draw attention to local meanings and histories of colour in UAE. The association of colour with specific local meaning also applies to the built environment. On the theme of human responses to colour, Dianne Smith (2008) explores the relationship between “emotional connection and disconnection between people and spaces” (p.313). She proposes that the colour-person-environment approach is one way of addressing colour in our surroundings. She also explores the idea that inherent and applied colour in the environment is filled with cultural associations that are subjective. Maspoli (2010), for example, proposes that the colour of materials, especially when used in at-risk neighbourhoods, can positively manipulate the way in which inhabitants view their surroundings. Kaya and Epps (2004) provide an exhaustive review of the current literature on the association between colour and emotion. Their own study, which agrees broadly with others, suggests that colours usually do not hold any single meaning. Red may be associated with both love and violence, white with both peace and death, and yellow with both the summer sun and sickness. What one person may see as gaudy and therefore taking on negative connotations, another may see as redolent with positive meaning. This is relevant to how students of design valorise colour. In some cases, students might perceive their own preferences as being judged unfavourably. This dynamic made us curious about the usage of colour in urban design in the UAE and its relationship with the growing concern over a loss of identity. In terms of colour, how do imported values interact with local culture in the production of space? Specifically, we are interested in the socio-political aspects of colour applied in the built environment, particularly with regards to the tensions between tradition and modernity. We trace the evolution of colour in the urban spaces of UAE through three stages. The first stage is the pre-oil era. The second is the period immediately after the discovery of oil when the country’s development took off. The third stage is the most recent phase of development, that is, the last twenty years or so, which roughly corresponds to the period of rapid global economic integration. The study is guided by the following questions. How were colours traditionally used in the built environment in the UAE? How have preferences changed over time? What socio-cultural motivations influence new trends in colour choices in the built environment? We used the following methods to answer our research questions. (1) Direct observation of historic sites in the Emirates of Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah (including forts and castles, old neighbourhoods, and museums displaying archaeological findings) enables us to study traditional


Colour, Culture and Aspiration in UAE

colours and their applications. (2) The site visits mentioned above were complemented by interviews with specialists in the fields of history and architecture of the UAE (including representatives of the UAE Heritage Society). This gave us rich information about the historic sites and traditional practices. (3) Interviews with artists, interior designers and architects proved useful to understanding the contemporary dynamics of colour selection and client desires. (4) Finally, we made recourse to our own analysis of local architecture and interiors, both modern and traditional, to structure the paper and organize our findings.

Three phases of colour in the built form of the UAE Social values and practices (including those related to colour preferences) are closely related to the history and geography of a place and its society. Bearing this in mind, we attempt to trace the evolution of colour meanings in the UAE, especially with regards to the built environment. The first phase in this evolution coincided with the pre-oil period of low intensity development. The second phase was the period of initial development funded by oil exports, roughly the first 20 years after independence. This is the period when the first urban infrastructure was built and large scale housing projects launched. The third and still ongoing phase coincides with the rapid integration of UAE cities into the global economy. This phase was different from the 1970s and 1980s because urban development became increasingly oriented towards real estate and speculative investment from around the world. There would be little point in drawing lines indicating watershed events when our purpose instead involves describing an evolutionary process. Moreover, drawing clear lines between the phases (particularly between the second and third phases) proves problematic. To begin with, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and the other emirates have experienced several differences in the pace and direction of their development. Therefore, one single line dividing up the three phases cannot be applied evenly to all seven emirates. Furthermore, drawing any lines at all becomes difficult as tastes, preferences and uses of colour evolve over time rather than changing sharply. Thus, these “phases” should be considered periods of time with fuzzy edges even while reflecting distinct core growth strategies.

Surajit Chakravarty, Patricia Ball


Phase I: Monochromatic traditions in built and natural environments The first “phase” in colour usage in the UAE took place throughout the period of low-intensity human intervention in the natural environment. This period extended from the Stone Age through to the discovery and extraction of oil in the region. Oil fields were first discovered in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and export of oil began as early as 1962. During this “first colour phase”, built forms were minimal with only a small minority of the region’s inhabitants owning any form of permanent housing with low prevailing levels of material and technological capacities. In ancient societies, colour derived from naturally occurring materials. These included plants, minerals, soil, etcetera. Archaeological sites uncovered in the UAE reveal a similar pattern. The sources of colour in this region are sand and mud, coral, sedimentary mountain rocks, camel and goat hair, and so forth, all yielding shades of brown and beige. The only exceptions are charcoal and some other black and green stones. This correspondingly meant people living in this region used to a fairly consistent colour scheme down through history. As one interviewee put it, beige has come to signify the desert and highly appreciated by local people. Traditional clothing in this colour is considered both formal and fashionable. Most artifacts and construction materials seen from the period preceding the discovery of oil, and stretching back to the Stone Age, display variations on this brown-beige theme. Evidence of the historic use of colour and materials stems from the numerous archaeological sites in the UAE (including Al-Dur in the Umm Al Quwain Emirate, Jumeirah Archaeological Site in Dubai, Khatt in the Ras Al Khaimah Emirate, and Khor Fakkan, owned by the ruling family of Sharjah, but lying entirely inside the Fujairah Emirate, among numerous others). Artifacts recovered from various archaeological sites are on display in the outstanding Sharjah Archaeology Museum. Figure 1, for example, features a collection of pottery dating back to the Bronze Age, including both locally made and imported items. Architecture remained simple until late on in this period. Few people lived in houses and most made do with temporary structures. The colour used in these dwellings and neighbourhoods were quite homogeneous. Traditional building materials like coral, burnt mud bricks, lime and gypsum created a scale of brown shades that sat well in the desert environment and reflected local geography, history, and traditions. Figure


Colour, Culture and Aspiration in UAE

2 shows details of a wall in Sharjah in which coral was the main construction material. Most of the additional colours found in buildings and in interiors were imported. Darker shades of brown came with the wood imported from Tanzania, such as Chandal, a dark brown timber that served as beams, usually spanning no more than 3 meters. This was later supplemented by teak from India. The incorporation of wood into the construction materials enhanced their stability and permanence, while complementing the local brown-beige colour scale. While wood provided a construction material, other imported decorative artifacts also brought colours into the built environment. In ancient times, other colours were derived from glass, imported from the Mediterranean region, and painted pottery and alabaster bowls from Mesopotamia (present day Iraq). Medieval Persian imports including carpets, and door panels featuring flower- or peacock-motifs, also contributed to the colour range in homes and neighbourhoods. Prior to the discovery of oil, the indigenous material brown-beige colour scale dominated the built environments in the region. The architecture of these homes was a response to nature and the local climatic conditions - not only in terms of the materials, architectural elements, and neighbourhood design, but also in terms of colour. The modest settlements appeared not so much to rise from the desert but rather blended into it. Some of the preserved heritage areas, such as the Sharjah Heritage Area, Fujairah Heritage Village, and Dubai’s Hatta Heritage Village, clearly display the application of colour as described above. The heritage areas of Deira, to the North of the creek, and Bur Dubai on the South, are perhaps the most popular historic sites in the country in terms of visitor numbers. Significant landmarks within Bur Dubai include the Bastakiya neighbourhood, Al Shindagah palace (see Figure 3) and Al Fahidi fort. The area was built in the mid to late 19th century. In Deira, one can find a souq, and the first offices of the Dubai Municipality. The creek is where Dubai’s settlement began, and where the city first became a hub of transit and trade. With the discovery of oil, as Dubai flourished, the areas of Deira and Bur Dubai became the first major commercial centres and continue to thrive amidst the numerous retail options now available in the city. Bur Dubai and Deira feature historic architecture from the pre-oil era as well as from the first period of modernisation in the 1970s and 1980s. Thus, these areas establish a living link between the Dubai that existed before its oil boom and the development since.

Surajit Chakravarty, Patricia Ball


Phase II: Independence, development and the expansion of the urban colour palette At the time of independence, both the coastal and the oasis towns of the country consisted of very few permanent structures. Most of the houses were made of palm leaves, branches, pieces of wood bound together with string and other such materials. Only a few structures incorporated the permanent materials discussed in the previous section. With independence, work began on constructing streets, permanent housing and other infrastructure. The grand projects for building entire cities from scratch were awarded to foreign, mostly western trained, architects in a trend that has since continued. Rapidly increasing wealth created demand for the import of more and newer construction materials and surface treatment materials including washes and paints as well as diverse furniture, rugs and drapes for interior design. As the cities were built, materials were imported and tastes became acquired. Blue has been a sought after colour ever since medieval times. Evidence of the use of blue also stems from Moorish traditions on the Iberian Peninsula. In Portugal, as in Morocco, blue remains the most commonly adopted colour in traditional crafts, such as tiles and ceramics. Green is a holy colour in Islam and features on the flags of many Islamic countries. With modern building technologies and materials becoming the norm in the UAE’s cities, blue and green were the first colours to which developers turned when seeking alternatives to monochromatic beigebrown colours. The 1970s and 1980s were a time of drastic change in the urban environments, particularly in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Fields with great public influence - from urban planning and urban design, to architecture and interior design - were professionalised and undertook the project of bringing about radical change, building at great speed (to “catch up” with the world), and with a clear mandate to impress. Designers at all levels were also able to break the shackles of the limited sources of materials and colour occurring naturally in the region. The availability (and affordability) of industrially produced surface treatments, gave developers powerful tools, but their experiments were directed by clients’ demands, which remained anchored in broader Arab and Islamic traditions. As explained above, the cases of Dubai’s districts of Bur Dubai and Deira are instructive for understanding the urbanisation dynamics of this period. Construction and development in Dubai first started here with both growing rapidly into large commercial-residential zones, overtaken only in the 1990s by new centres for the global economy. Bur Dubai and Deira are


Colour, Culture and Aspiration in UAE

still considered among the major commercial centers of Dubai, and continue to be dense and active areas. Figure 4 shows the creek and modern commercial buildings on the Deira side. The Bastakiya neighbourhood, on the southern side of the Dubai Creek, had been earmarked for demolition in the late 1980s. In 1989, Prince Charles and Princess Diana visited Dubai, toured the area and became concerned at the prospect of Dubai losing its oldest neighbourhoods. It is believed (as reported by our interviewees) that the royal couple, responding to an appeal from British architect Rayner Otter, were able to persuade officials in the government of Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum to change their plans and conserve the area. The Bastakiya area, along with the neighbouring Al Shindagha palace, were later designated as heritage zones. In due course, similar steps to conserve historic areas were also taken in Sharjah and other parts of the country. The Bastakiya neighbourhood of Bur Dubai consists of old-style courtyard houses and markets that were the centre for business between locals and traders from Iran and the Indian subcontinent. Al Shindagha, a palace dating to the early 20th century, sits next to the Bastakiya neighbourhood, facing the creek. The rest of Bur Dubai consists of a large number of 4-8 storey buildings from the 1970s and 1980s, and a handful of more recent taller structures built in the first round of investment and development. Across the creek from Bur Dubai is Deira, also an active market for merchant ships dating back to the pre-oil period. This part of Dubai fell under immense pressure from rapid development throughout the city. The old neighbourhoods here met a similar fate as those in Bur Dubai. Deira’s importance as a commercial hub grew in the post-independence period, and most of the old traditional dwellings were demolished to make way for the first concrete structures in the 1970s and 1980s. These 4-8 storey concrete structures were usually in an austere, modernist design, emphasising geometrical shapes, straight lines and bare facades. In terms of colour, they mostly relied on plain white or off-white washes, but not necessarily on brown-beige shades.

Phase III: Conserved monochromatism and the brightly coloured real estate market The connection between colour and heritage in urban form is wellestablished. De Mattiello and Rabuini (2011) explore the reconstruction of La Boca, Buenos Aires, Argentina, which deployed colour in an effort to safeguard its ancestral heritage. Mass Italian immigration resulted in

Surajit Chakravarty, Patricia Ball


homes being painted in bright colours and that bestowed a particular identity on the neighbourhood. The authors highlight the importance of preserving these colour schemes as part of the built heritage of neighbourhoods. On a similar note, Ünver and Ozturk (2002), using the example of mass housing in Bizimkent, Turkey, suggest that facade colours should reflect the local environment, such as vegetation and climate. Decisions on the façade colour should include knowledge of, and reference to, indigenous building materials, social-cultural conditions, traditions and colours in order to nurture a specific identity. In similar vein, the revitalisation project in the Bastakiya area also included a colour component. In 2005-2006, Dubai Municipality implemented a "redesign" programme on the Deira and Bur Dubai areas. The project strove to showcase the country’s heritage to the world while simultaneously diversifying and adding value to its tourism sector. As with any project of this kind, the redevelopment of the historic Bastakiya area also brought about a fresh economic impetus to the area. Traditional houses were restored meticulously with authentic materials. Cement was more liberally applied than would have been the case in the period when the houses were first built but this might easily be justified by the interest in stability and longevity. The market alley in Bastakiya and the areas immediately surrounding it were all subject to renovation. Apart from a cleanup and structural improvements, these areas also received a colour-coordinated look, with shop fronts sporting identical doors and signage in shades of brown. Significantly, buildings in the immediate vicinity of the Bastakiya and Al Shindagha sites on the southern side of the creek, and Deira on the northern side, were asked to conform to a colour code for their outer surfaces. Most of these buildings had been built in the 1980s or later and were neither in themselves historical nor were they ever so designated. Nevertheless, they were expected to conform to the colour coding. Figure 5 shows a section of Bur Dubai built in the 1980s but coloured according to the heritage colour scale. Enforcing this colour conformance ensured the plan acquired a heightened sense of coherence and magnitude. Designated shades of brown were thus accorded special value by state action for the purpose of local economic development and building a national identity through place-making. Sharjah heritage district deploys a similar mechanism. Figure 6 shows a scene from Sharjah. The fort on the lower right side of the pictures is a heritage site. The buildings on the left of the picture are ordinary mixed use (residential and commercial) structures applied with the same heritage wash.


Colour, Culture and Aspiration in UAE

Colour coding was also a concern in Abu Dhabi as recently as 2010, although for a different reason. The Abu Dhabi municipality issued warnings to several companies about buildings not conforming to the colour code. Gulf News (2010) reported that, “The darkly coloured exteriors of many buildings in Abu Dhabi will soon be a thing of the past, thanks to a new move by the Municipality to impose uniform colours on buildings. All structures in Abu Dhabi should have white and light colours to reflect the sunlight, an official spokesperson of the Municipality told Gulf News.” The Municipality issued a list of approved colours with a fine of between $1,000 and $10,000 for not complying with the regulations. In some contemporary houses, interior colours feature deep crimsons and greens reminiscent of historical Western periods such as the Victorian or Edwardian. In others, blues and pinks are used in French Neo-Classical interiors, in stark contrast to the desert environment outside. Again contrasting with the desert, the colours applied in hotel interiors often display a startling intensity. The world’s only 7-star hotel, the Burj Al Arab is one prime example. As in the past, colour has been used to express status with the preferred choice for this purpose being gold. There is reputedly 2,000 square metres of gold foil in the interior of the Burj Al Arab. Throughout the hotel, colours are many and varied, intense and bright. In other hotels, the desire to be perceived as ‘modern’ often results in a miscellany of styles and colours. Bright green, blue, pink, silver and gold glass facades are very popular in UAE cities. Form and colour fight for attention in an abundance of contemporary styles. This struggle for attention may also be translated as a desire to gain recognition on the international stage. The use of traditional colours (those in the local environment) is not classed as contemporary and therefore less desirable. Through its use of modern materials and therefore ‘modern’ colours, the UAE defines itself as a place compatible with any other developed country. The consumption of “western” ideas of architecture and colour has helped cities like Dubai place themselves on the international stage of urban development. Very similar to the facades of skyscrapers, the application of colour in interior spaces strives to foster a sense of grandeur. Indeed, the design schemes adopted for both exterior facades and interiors would seem to indicate a desire to demonstrate wealth through a riot of colour.

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Findings and discussion (1) Shades of beige and brown have always been the principal indigenous colours of the land. We found evidence of very few truly indigenous sources of colour. In the region’s desert landscape, natural materials, such as a rocks, plants, minerals, soils etcetera, are quite similar in terms of the colours they yield - shades of beige and brown. The built environment, when settlements began forming, inherited the monochromatic quality of the natural landscape. We find that this created a very attractive cityscape, deeply tied to nature and respectful of it. The monochromatic trend continued until the post-independence period of mass construction. A variety of washes, colours and materials were introduced into the cityscape in the 1970s and 1980s. The modernization inevitably broke those close links with nature that the settlements had hitherto enjoyed. In the 1990s and 2000s, the infrastructure development agenda got transformed by massive real estate construction projects. Even though environmentally unsustainable in a desert environment, cities in the UAE embraced concrete and glass buildings. As skyscrapers jostled for investment and attention, unusual designs and brightly-coloured facades increasingly became the norm. These bright colours including not only the more common greens, blues and greys, but also flamboyant pinks and golds became common in the contemporary architecture. With rapid urbanization and modernization came concerns over a loss of identity and a concerted effort to reclaim heritage was launched. The built environment understandably played a major role in this exercise, and the colouring of city space to highlight heritage became the new trend. What is most noteworthy here is how colour preferences in the built environment have evolved. Whereas at one point, a close link with nature was considered important, attention-grabbing colours (often derived from environmentally unsustainable materials) are now highly valued. Simultaneously, a desire to preserve heritage has prompted a return to monochromatic traditions in those urban neighbourhoods deemed historic. These trends indicate that the application of colour in the built environment is part of the production of space in a Lefebvrian sense and not merely an aesthetic function. Colours in urban spaces not only reflect historic processes but also ongoing socio-cultural contests. Colours may be deployed strategically within the scope of a variety of objectives. In the next section, we discuss some of the motives that influence colour preferences in UAE. (2) Various economic and socio-cultural motives have created new meanings for colour and these motives correspondingly intervene in the


Colour, Culture and Aspiration in UAE

choice and application of colours in UAE cities. Some colours are chosen for strategic purposes by individuals involved in commissioning projects (developers, property owners etcetera). These colours may not be traditionally popular or culturally significant and may not even be related to a universal emotional reaction either. However, these colours may be chosen because of what they are believed to represent. Five aspects are discussed below. First, one of the most important factors determining the colour choices of designers and architects stems from client aspirations to modernity. From our interviews with architects and interior designers, we found that a desire to be seen as “modern”, or alternatively “Western”, or “world class” is an important factor in motivating client choices. Clients may use these terms loosely, sometimes interchangeably, and often inaccurately. At times, these words hold no real meaning (or positive definition), except to flag a departure from traditional colours and designs. Second, another important factor is a desire to acquire luxury, or in some cases, signifiers of luxury. Thus, the colour gold is highly sought after. In some cases, the entire façades of multi-storey buildings may be gold-coloured whilst numerous other facades also apply the gold colour liberally. This is something one would not find almost anywhere else in the world. Furthermore, we may even suggest that the colour gold is seen, essentially, as an extension of the highly regarded beige-brown scale, as described above. Some examples of gold facades are shown in Figures 7ad. Third, some decisions are made with economic objectives. In an attempt to attract investors and tenants to their buildings, developers always attempt to stand out. As one architect told us: “In Dubai, every building tries to shout”. Ironically, though, this has created an urban environment in which most skyscrapers feature brightly-coloured gleaming glass exteriors and thus none of the buildings really end up standing out for their respective façade. The trend of “shouting” with glass also resulted in an unsustainable urban format due to the energy required for air-conditioning interiors into which the desert heat permeates through floor-to-ceiling glass windows. Fourth, as the restoration projects in Dubai and Sharjah show, colour plays an important role in the place-making efforts of local agencies, undertaken to stimulate economic activity and tourism. The practice of creating colour-coded spaces is common in urban design projects related to conservation, urban renewal etcetera. In Dubai and Sharjah, these projects have been successful in highlighting the built heritage of the cities, and have been able to turn these areas into active places that are

Surajit Chakravarty, Patricia Ball


both relevant and useful. Nevertheless, this colour-coding is not without its problems. Fifth, in UAE cities (most significantly Dubai and Sharjah) the control on colour is extended to non-heritage buildings in the vicinity of historic buildings. Colour-coding of building facades in heritage districts usually is implemented to preserve a colour theme that was shared by the heritage buildings in that area. In Dubai and Sharjah, however, one often finds structures from different eras than the heritage buildings, are brought under the same colour-coding regulation. Local agencies are thus able to imagine a continuity of heritage to a far greater extent than actually exists on ground. Further, because historical differences are (quite literally) glossed over, with the monochromatic beige-brown scale, we are unable to properly appreciate the modernist architecture of the 1970s and 1980s, which is worthy of being preserved in itself as a distinct phase in the architectural expression of the UAE. Instead, we encounter an architectural-temporal mix, invented for adding value to preserved buildings, but ultimately misleading and unattractive.

Conclusions In this section, we raise a few of the questions prompted by this research, and which we hope will invite future research dealing with theory and pedagogy. In terms of theory, we would like to highlight various of the disconnects or disjunctures that have appeared in the meanings of colour as uses and preferences have evolved. Furthermore as regards pedagogy, we would like briefly to discuss lingering doubts regarding the appropriate perspective from which to approach classroom instruction in designrelated fields, particularly interior design, architecture and urban planning.

Disjunctures in the meanings of colour The study reveals various disconnects or disjunctures in the meanings of colour. By “disconnects or disjunctures,” we mean that there is a difference or gap between the assumed or purported meanings and the actual functions or practices. For example, we have discussed above how the close relationship between nature and urban form was broken with the advent of modern construction on a mass scale. Thus, a gap clearly emerged between the assumed values of colour (close to nature) and the actual practices (synthetic paint on a mass scale). Similarly, with increasing


Colour, Culture and Aspiration in UAE

attention to heritage conservation, a disconnect emerged between the actual built heritage and the purported heritage (claimed through colour coding). Yet another example comes with the disconnect between the desirability of gold (the metal), and the meanings ascribed to the colour gold. The metal was considered a signifier of wealth and status. The colour gold borrowed its value from the metal and, over time, the colour gold became attractive as a substitute for the metal itself, until finally the colour got further reduced to being a symbol of luxury (i.e. it might be used on buildings, for example, regardless of whether or not the building is particularly lavish). While this transfer of meaning is not unique to the UAE (or the Gulf region), gold is certainly far more popular here as façade option for buildings here than in most other places. This is not a critique either of the colour per se or of its popularity, but rather an analysis of the process by which meanings of colour get transferred. Finally, the study points to a disjuncture between the actual colour heritage and that which is being reclaimed. Whilst our study does agree with the findings of others, it does also set up a counterpoint. El Gohary (2007) discusses the introduction of new materials and a new world-wide colour palette, which is disconnected from the traditional colour palette of particular places. In recent years, rapid urbanisation has brought great opportunities and developments into urban construction. Shortcomings in design, especially the misuse of colour, have led to the disappearance of regional cultural features and the city's individual character. Sharing this view, Boeri (2010) argues that most large cities in the world have come to resemble each other in their use of materials and colours. The synthetic colours incorporated into modern materials circulated through globalised supply chains have led to a similarity in choices. Further, colour plays an important role in conserving the identity of cities. She states that whereas in the past, local materials dictated the colour of the city and added to the sense of “recognition, belonging, readability and quality of the city” (p.459), the advent of new building materials has brought about an international homogenisation of architecture without reference to the local cultural context. These studies duly identify the problems inherent to the homogenisation of the colour palette, because of both mass production and the transfer of tastes. The question raised by our study is whether Dubai’s model of reclaiming heritage is the appropriate antidote to these trends. Is it good practice to overlay, through colour, a space of memory on neighbourhoods that have long since moved on? This question still remains open for debate.

Surajit Chakravarty, Patricia Ball


Pedagogy of colour in the context of cultural differences For those involved in teaching in the fields of design, issues of taste and aesthetics constantly arise. The critical question in this context is whether students should be taught the aesthetic values of their instructors (mostly educated in North America and Western Europe), or whether students should be allowed to express themselves freely in terms of colour, with only minimal criticism or direction. We support the latter approach. However, it also remains important simultaneously to carry out field research on colour in the UAE and in the region so that culturally sensitive and locally grounded theories of colour and aesthetics are able to emerge. The UAE shows certain unique preferences and contestations over colour. Nevertheless, we find that cities of UAE deviate from the narratives of homogenisation in unexpected ways. There is homogenisation through glass facades, but even in the use of glass, the UAE diverges from cities of, say, North America, in choosing bright shades of pink and gold. Furthermore, homogeneity is, to some extent, encouraged by local agencies and thereby further reinforcing the effects of limited materials. El Gohary (2007), Boeri (2010) and others argue persuasively about cities becoming similar in terms of colour choices. While this may be right, cities, places and neighbourhoods also have their peculiar local socio-cultural practices and preferences that continue to thrive. Hence pedagogy needs to recognise local specificities in the face of the homogenisation of consumption choices. Minah (2008) highlights the importance of colour in built form. She regrets that, in the West, “[c]olour is considered secondary to building form and structure, reflecting attitudes held by many design professionals since the Renaissance” (p.1). She argues for pedagogy (in architecture and urban design) based on an engagement with colour at every step in the design process. She outlines three steps: “colour dynamics”, “colour tectonics” and “colour imagery” (p.3). “Colour imagery is the subject where most attention in architectural design has been placed. These are the colours one experiences perceptually in architecture which convey materiality, physical context, cultural context, symbolism and emotional response, as well as imagery related to conceptual goals and form definition” (p.5). Based on this study, we would add that instruction on colour ought also to consider colour politics. That is, colour, in design and critical urban studies ought to be considered not only a form of ornament but also a tool for implementing strategic economic and socio-political goals.


Colour, Culture and Aspiration in UAE

References Boeri, Cristina. “A Perceptual Approach to the Urban Colour Reading”. Paper presented at the Colour & Light in Architecture First International Conference, Venice, 11-12 November 2010. De Mattiello, María and Emilia Rabuini. “Colours in La Boca: Patrimonial Identity in the Urban Landscape.” Colour Research & Application 36 (2011): 222–228. doi:10.1002/col.20612. Farouk El Gohary, Germin. “Rainbow city: A Study in Colour of Cities.” Paper presented at ArchCairo International Conference, Cairo, Egypt, March 20-22 2007. Gulf News, “Abu Dhabi buildings see the light.”Accessed from Gulf News, December 14, 2011. Hasan, Amna, Nabia Al-Sammerai and Fakhrul Kadir. “How Colours are Semantically Construed in the Arabic and English Culture: A Comparative Study.” English Language Teaching, 4(3), (2011): 260213. Kaya, Naz and Helen Epps. “Relationship between Colour and Emotion: A Study of College Students.” College Student Journal 38 (2004): 396405. Maspoli, Rossella. “Colours and Cultures on Contemporary Public Space Design.” Paper presented at the Colour & Light in Architecture First International Conference, Venice, 11-12 November 2010. Minah, Galen. “Colour as Idea: The Conceptual Basis for Using Colour in Architecture and Urban Design.” Colour: Design and Creativity 2 (2008): 1-9. O’Connor, Zena. “Bridging the Gap: Façade Colour, Aesthetic Response and Planning Policy.” Journal of Urban Design 11:3 (2006): 335-345. doi:10.1080/13574800600888251. Roberson, Debi, Ian Davies and Jules Davidoff. “Colour categories are not universal: replications and new evidence from a stone age culture”. In “Theories, Technologies, Instrumentalities of Colour: Anthropological and Historiographic Perspectives.” Edited by Barbara Saunders and Jaap van Brakel, 25-35: University Press of America, 2002. Smith, Dianne. “Colour-Person-Environment Relationships,” Colour Research and Application 33(4) (2008): 312-319. Tavakoli, Niki. “The Role of Physical Identity of City in Urban Sustainability”. Paper presented at the 14th International Planning History Society Conference: Urban Transformation: Controversies, Contrasts and Challenges, Istanbul, Turkey July 12-15, 2010.

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Ünver, Rengin, and Leyla Dokuzer Öztürk. “An Example of Facade Colour Design of Mass Housing.” Colour Research & Application 27 (2002): 291–299. doi:10.1002/col.10068.


The colour blue in the contemporary world Blue is allegedly the favourite colour in the Western world with the exception of Spain and Latin America, where red does come first in people's choices (Pastoureau 2002). Blue has even come to symbolise the Western culture as a whole: the blue ring in the Olympic flag stands for the European continent and this was also the colour chosen in 1955 to emblemize the European identity (first, the Council of Europe, and afterwards, the European Community and the European Union). According to the historian Pastoureau (2002), the colour blue has undergone an interesting signifying process: it has evolved from being considered a warm colour with a very discreet symbolic role in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance into becoming a cold, neutral, somehow banal colour with an anesthetising effect, generally symbolising consensus and peace. Today's world has a marked taste for blue with widespread and predominant applications in multiple fields of contemporary life, ranging from surgical gowns, tranquiliser packages, decaffeinated coffee capsules, to standard computer desktop themes, traffic signs with informative content, and the worldwide recognisable symbols of international organisations like the UN, the UNESCO or the aforementioned EU. Blue might also stand for global communication: a bright blue globe overlapping two blue computer screens on your laptop indicates a successful internet connection, and blue is also the favourite colour of the most widely used social networks, such as Facebook or Twitter. Pastoureau (2002, 158) argues that the contemporary preference for this colour is related to its banality and neutrality: blue neither shocks nor hurts and is furthermore neither subversive nor transgressive. Blue calms down and appeases and is the colour of consensus and unanimity.

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Not surprisingly, the colour blue is all-pervasive in the realm of travel and tourism: whether we consider the navy blue range of guidebooks by the top-selling publisher “Lonely Planet” or the turquoise blue of tourist brochures featuring holiday resorts with large, inviting swimming pools. To a certain extent, we may correspondingly state that were the tourist world defined in terms of a colour, it would certainly be blue. I would like to argue that this prevalent usage of blue in the particular domain of travel and tourism extends beyond mere reflecting a contemporary taste, and hence a wise and safe choice for competent marketeers and designers. Instead, the prevalence of the colour blue in tourist and travel imagery largely results from a cultural development in which it has gradually gained and consolidated a specific and special symbolic meaning, culminating in a set of positive associations and emotions for the majority of the people living in the Western world that seasonally long for a colourful, exciting, and enriching escape from the routines of everyday life, perceived as monotonous, mechanical, and “grey”. The theoretical polarisation between work/home and free time/travel, put forward by Krippendorf (1987) in the context of the industrial society, is intrinsically related to the primarily “escapist” motivation of travel—grounded on the idea that people travel because they need to get away from their “automated” and “boring” routines: “Everyday life is the sum of the negative aspects of existence—Dirt— noise—work—rush—school—trouble—pollution. All this is a part of everyday life. Its descriptions abound with drab colours and adjectives expressing sadness: grey, monotonous, tiring, sad, boring. […] Everyday life is bearable in the long run only if there is a chance to get away; otherwise people lose their balance and fall ill. Free time, and above all, travel are there to add some colour to this bare landscape. They are the vehicle for man’s restoration—his re-creation; they heal body and soul and bring vitality and new meaning to life” (Krippendorf 1987, 16, italics added).

This dichotomy is now a much contested idea in the light of the debate around post-industrial society, in which clear-cut boundaries between tourism and the rigid mechanisms of everyday life can no longer be advocated (see Lash and Urry 1994; Rojek 1993). However, we should stress how the “get-away” motif still remains a prevailing feature of contemporary travel and tourism, having been discursively articulated in terms of colours: a grey existence as opposed to the hope of blue evasion and relaxation.


The Colour Blue: Perceptions and Representations

Tourism, “place-myths” and colours Any debate around the cultural meaning of colours in the domain of travel and tourism inevitably considers the ubiquity of images and the multiplicity of visual representations in the so-called “economy of signs and space” (Appadurai 1996; Lash and Urry 1994), which is posited as a defining feature of contemporary culture. In today's highly mediatised society, representation does, in fact, seem to have become more real than the reality represented: every location and site, every place, region, townscape and landscape is a potential destination, having thus to compete for shiny status in the global tourism marketplace; this means that places circulate globally as modified and modifiable images, as glossy spatial representations, immersed in a powerfully seductive rhetoric aimed at intoxicating the tourist imagery and tourism imagination. As products of the contemporary “image production industry” (Harvey 1990, 290), visual representations of space become surrogates or the fabricated clones of the geographical locations they actually refer to. The perception of places has never been so intensively preceded (and, in fact, may have been replaced) by their exhaustively mediated and interpreted representations. Places exist far beyond their mere geographical coordinates and boundaries, globally travelling as fantasised constructions and “contaminating” the individual and collective perceptions of tourist destinations. Real topography gives way to virtual locations, imagined sites of a cultural or imaginary geography. In his study on the social construction of space, Rob Shields (1991) put forward the notion of “place-images and myths” to refer to a whole set of “mental images”, stereotypes, clichés, labels, and connotations that people associate with places and regions. He explains how such a cultural geography comes into being: “Real spaces are hypostatised into the symbolic realm of imaginary space relations. The world is cognitively territorialised so that on the datum of physical geographic knowledge, the world is recoded as a set of spaces and places which are infinitely shaded with connotative characteristics and emotive associations” (Shields 1991, 264).

Within this “imaginary geography” (Hennig 1997; Shields 1991), many places owe their existence to textual and visual mediation. Such cultural mapping or “semiotic colonisation” (Wöhler 2001) of the world is rarely in black and white; in fact, in the Western world it goes hand in hand with pervasive colour codification. Every visual or textual representation, every narrative and every description of what we

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experience and remember resorts powerfully to a colour system. Although barely remarked or reflected upon, for colours are always around us, moulding our perception of shape, distance and texture, they actually play a significant role in the process through which the real topography is translated into the symbolic creations of an emotional and imagined geography. Cultural constructs, replete with connotations and myth, are coloured by our imagination. This is the process which allows for certain places and spaces to be represented by certain colours. Provence is surely unimaginable without its soft lavender fields; Toscana is forever captured in the ochre and greenish tones of earth and vineyards; and when we think of or imagine Ireland, a countryside of intense green inevitably springs to mind. However, it is the colour blue which probably and unmistakably represents the most powerful and sought-after “place-myth” of the contemporary tourist imagination: the seaside or the beach. Images of light, sunny days, blue skies and turquoise waters are very popular and recurrent in tourist advertising today, having actually become the banalised epitome of paradise on earth (Lenček and Bosker 1999).

The colour blue in tourism: paradise on earth The seaside is the privileged space of contemporary evasion and provides the appropriate scenario for what sociologist Jean-Didier Urbain (2002) calls the re-enactment of the Crusoe myth—the archetypical model for a utopian longing for a new beginning. The rituals of the seaside holiday—dreamily contemplating the water, bathing in the sea and dozing in the sun, indulging in the dolce far niente—reflect, in Bachelardian terms, “reveries of repose” (Bachelard 2004), a need to drastically break up with and forget work routines: a need to die and be born again. As Bachelard (quoted in Urbain 2002, 233) states: “Contempler l’eau, c’est s’écouler, c’est se dissoudre, c’est mourir.” At the seaside, on the beach, or even on the mythical site of a lost (faraway) and (almost) deserted island, the modern bather aspires thus to the amnesiac chimera that allows him/her to retreat from the world and rejuvenate. As Urbain (2004, 29) poignantly observes, seen from the sky, the contemporary beach evokes a “resting field” (“un champs de repos”), a maritime cemetery, with its umbrellas resembling cypresses and the beach mats like tombstones. As a liminal space, the edge of the sea represents a disconnection from historical reality (Urbain 2002, 39). The landscape provides the ideal abstract configuration for encounters with the elements, especially the aquatic element. As Eliade states (1991, 159), the waters are “the reservoir


The Colour Blue: Perceptions and Representations

of all possibilities of existence”, representing a “regression into the preformal”. Resorting to the seaside stands therefore for regeneration; immersion and emergence corresponding respectively to symbolic forms of death and rebirth. The Robinsonian craving for the seaside, the strong desire for relaxation, suspension, metaphorical death and renewal is symbolically represented by aerial and/or aquatic blue, which has become the colour of immateriality and transparency, the colour of emptiness and dissolution— superbly expressed by the contemporary photographic work of Massimo Vitali,1 whose artificial milky colouration interplay with the turquoise blue of the seawater and the sky and the blinding white of the sand (Bündenbender 2012, 286) to magnificently convey a sort of sensed emptiness and dematerialisation: a fall into the unconsciousness of sleep.

Representing evasion and desire The seaside as a desirable landscape and a source of pleasurable experiences, magically represented by the colour blue, is a relatively new cultural construction, which needs to be accounted for in the light of a gradual but profound change in both mentality and aesthetic sensibility. As the historian Alain Corbin has magnificently shown in his book The Lure of the Sea, the coast was for many centuries not only an ignored but essentially feared and repulsion-inspiring landscape. Similarly, the colour blue remained somehow invisible and unuttered: for example, the Greeks did not have a word for blue (in fact having very few colour words), referring to the sky and to the sea only in terms of “light” and “dark” (Ackerman 1990; Camartin 2003). Only in the 17th century do we discover a changing attitude towards the sea, manifest in an emergent system of appreciation that allowed for positive aesthetic discourses around sea shores. However, only in the second half of the 18th century, under the banner of the Romantic movement did the coast begin to arise as an object of desire, as a place of “sublime beauty” where “the individual found the means of encountering the elements and enjoying the brightness or transparency of the water” (Corbin 1995, 53). Romanticism undoubtedly played a crucial role in the rise of a new appreciation and admiration system for nature and natural environments, which remains valid until the present day. Many modern landscape images and holiday snapshots are powerfully evocative of the Romantic pictorial 1, accessed October 25, 2012.

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legacy and its modes of seeing and representing nature. Caspar David Friedrich's paintings with their isolated figures, facing and beholding vast, monumental, timeless, and solitary landscapes are prefigurations of innumerous contemporary images of nature, symbolising evasion and desire (Schwarz 1984, 89). C. D. Friedrich's compositions reveal intense spectacles of infinite expanses of sky and sea, in which the human figure stands as an overwhelmed beholder. However important this legacy might have been to touristic ways of gazing upon the landscape and reading nature, this still did not express the passionate cluster of emotions the seaside would unleash in the dawn of the leisure and consumer society, when beach life and culture would fully unfold. Before this could happen—before the seaside would turn into the beach—there was still a long way to go; there was still what Urbain (2002, 122) entitles the “mundane pacification of the coast”. I would again turn to art in an attempt to demonstrate how the seaside and the sky gradually became a projection of desire, implicitly represented by the colour blue. In her study on European painterly practices between the late 19th century and the first decades of the 20th century, the art historian Nina Lübbren (2003) argues there is a noticeable and distinctive paradigm shift in artistic choices from the overcast skies of northern landscapes to sunnier modes of representation, focussed on the places and regions of the emergent tourist geography, i.e. of the South. Lübbren (2003, 125) states that from the late 1880s to the mid-1890s, “blue skies were rarely seen on English exhibition walls”, but gradually the “palette lightened” and tonal variations of black, white, grey and matt green gave way to brighter tones. Lübbren exemplifies this change with two paintings by Max Liebermann: Netmenders (1987-89) and Bathing Boys (1896-98). The first painting shows Dutch fisherwomen in a harsh environment, working in stormy weather; Bathing Boys depicts a very different scene: striking is not only the brightness as opposed to the sombre tone of Netmenders but also the fact that it is set at the seaside; the emphasis here placed on leisure subjects and playful activity and recreation not on workers or working activities (Lübbren 2003). The shift is not only in terms of colour choices but also in terms of geography: landscape painting moves from North to South. Lübbren argues that this shift from a grey paradigm to a sunny mode also corresponded to the emergence of tourism and the search for places-myths that represented the idea of “South”. Liebermann's paintings testify therefore to an emergent visual consciousness of the seaside and its inherent elements as a blue trilogy: sunlight, seawater and the sky.


The Colour Blue: Perceptions and Representations

The Blue South The seaside, particularly the Mediterranean strip of southern Europe, was the first “place-myth” in the tourist imaginary and the birthplace of European tourism. The Mediterranean was the geographical location where the idea of “South” first developed (Fussell 1980, 131) and where, as Fred Inglis states in his Delicious History of the Holiday (2000), the object of Northern Europe’s historical passion is located. According to Inglis, the northern part of the European continent, which spends half of the year in sorrow and distress, cultivates an unappeasable craving for summer, as Inglis terms it, “a dream of sunshine” (Inglis 2000, 3). The South becomes imbued with the idea of a search for light and warmth (Camartin 2003, 7), gradually gaining a magnetic symbolic content related to the dream of Paradise, where a “good and sweet life”, a life without worries and full of pleasures is to be found in a land of plenty and delights—a warm, welcoming and friendly land of tasteful and abundant food. As the coast gradually took up its leading role on the stage of European vacationing and holidaymaking, so did the colour blue become more and more intensively visible in the cluster of representations around a paradisiacal “South”, containing the distinct features of a concept which would be “exported and transplanted” to other parts of the globe. In the remaining part of this paper, I would like to provide evidence for this development traced in visual representations of a “Blue South”. At the turn of the century, many artists, painters and writers would contribute to the increasing association between the Mediterranean South and the colour blue. Van Gogh, a Northerner who moved to the South in search of light and colour, is surely one of those who contributed most to this by devoting his life and art to representing the South and revealing it to others through his work. As he confesses in one of his letters to his brother Theo, Van Gogh discovered blue in Southern France, thus influencing forever the way this region is imagined and represented. Van Gogh writes: “One night I went for a walk by the sea along the empty shore. It was not gay, but neither was it sad—it was—beautiful. The deep blue sky was flecked with clouds of a blue deeper than the fundamental blue of intense cobalt, and others of a clearer blue, like the blue whiteness of the Milky Way. In the blue depth, the stars were sparkling, greenish, yellow, white, pink, more brilliant, more emeralds, lapis lazuli, rubies, sapphires. The sea was a very deep ultramarine—the shore a sort of violet and faint russet as I

Maria João Cordeiro


saw it, and on the dunes (they are about seventeen feet high) some bushes Prussian blue” (van Gogh 1888) .

The prevalence of the colour blue in the tourist imaginary is intrinsically intertwined with and cannot be separated from the crucial cultural change that led to the emergence and development of tourism in Europe and the establishment of the tourist geography on the Mediterranean Coast. The blue magnetism of the Mediterranean was greatly achieved in the first decades of the 20th century, when the colour seemed to impregnate the European/northern imagination in multiple ways, fuelling wishes of happiness, abundance, and freedom. The decades before the Second World War are the heyday of the Blue Train, the famous express train which departed from Victoria Station to the French Riviera, taking rich British travellers down to the Mediterranean South (Fussell 1980). The luxurious Blue Train connoted “escape” from the fog towards sunshine, exotic food and lust, and it was quickly dubbed “the train of paradise” (Blume 1992, 88). Some railway company and airline posters inviting visits to the French Riviera are elucidative of bright holiday images connoted with relaxation, fun and lust, powerfully framed by the blue sky and the blue sea. The French Riviera, a coastline of beaches in the Southeast of France, is actually known in French as the Côte d'Azur, the blue coast, a designation attributed by a guidebook written by Stéphen Liégeard in 1887, one of the inventors of the myth of a “sunny, lemon-scented south” (Blume 1992, 4145), a place to “forget the weaknesses of men, the sadness of things, the insanities of politics, the sanities of naturalism: the cerulean waves will wash them all away” (Liégeard quoted in Blume 1992, 42). Another “blue” coincidence was the name of the guidebook that set standards from the second decade of the 20th century onwards: The Blue Guide, whose first edition was on London and its environs, published in 1918 by the Muirhead brothers, who edited the English language version of the Baedeker series and acquired the famous John Murray handbooks; the Blue Guides actually became the heir of the 19th Red Books tradition (Blue Guides 2012). In the 21st century, blue still encapsulates the Mediterranean, blue still colours our idea of a perfect holiday and our common dream of paradise, a powerful cultural construction, deeply rooted in the “human love of happiness, the sense of beauty and the energy to experience new places and people” (Inglis 2000, 2). Let me conclude with some news from paradise, which powerfully emanates the blue aura of elsewhere, where life is good and sweet: ordinary texts condensing extraordinary experiences, a selection from the


The Colour Blue: Perceptions and Representations

243 Postcards in Real Colour, written by Georges Perec (2008) in October 1978: We're camping near Ajaccio. Lovely weather. We eat well. I've got sunburnt. Fondest love. We're travelling through Greece. Gorgeous siestas beside the sea. Have met loads of very friendly people. We're in Martinique. Beautiful, super and blue! We've been deep-sea fishing. Fondest regards.

The cultural construction of “the South” is no longer exclusively circumscribed to the Mediterranean strip of land; it became the “territorialization of a certain kind of holiday” (Löfgren 1999, 205), transferred and transferable to other parts of the globe, repackaged according to local coordinates. No matter where the dream of paradise is located—whether on a Mediterranean or a tropical beach or by the swimming pool—, the colour blue powerfully remains the crucial key to its representation.

References Ackerman, Diane. 1990. A Natural History of the Senses. New York: Vintage Books. Appadurai, Arjun. 1996. Modernity at Large: Cultural dimensions of Globalization. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Bachelard, Gaston. 2004. La Terre et les rêveries du repos: essai sur les images de l'intimité. Paris: Corti. Blue Guides. 2012. “History of the Blue Guides.” Accessed October 25, 2012. Blume, Mary. 1992. Côte d’Azur: Inventing the French Riviera. London: Thames and Hudson. Büdenbender, Hanna. 2012. „Massimo Vitali: Traumstrand versus Touristenmassen.“ In Topologien des Reisens: Tourismus—Imagination —Migration/Topologies of travel: tourism—imagination—Migration, edited by Alexandra Karentzos, Alma-Elisa Kittner, Julia Reuter. Accessed October 25, 2012. 565/pdf/Topologien_des_Reisens.pdf Camartin, Iso. 2003 Jeder braucht seinen Süden. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.

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Corbin, Alain. 1995. The Lure of the Sea: The Discovery of the Seaside 1750-1840. Translated by Jocelyn Phelps. London/New York: Penguin. Eliade, Mircea. 1991. Images and Symbols. Studies in Religious symbolism. Translated by P. Mairet. Princeton University Press. Fussell, Paul. 1980. Abroad —British Literary Traveling Between the Wars. New York: Oxford University Press. Harvey, David. 1990. The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change. Cambridge, MA/Oxford: Blackwell. Hennig, Christoph. 1997. Reiselust: Touristen, Tourismus und Urlaubskultur. Frankfurt am Main/Leipzig: Suhrkamp. Inglis, Fred. 2000. The Delicious History of the Holiday. London: Routledge. Krippendorf, Jost. 1987. The Holiday Makers—Understanding the impact of leisure and travel. Translated by V. Andrassy. Oxford: ButterworthHeinemann. Lash, Scott, and John Urry. 1994. Economies of Signs and Space. London/Thousand Oaks/New Delhi: SAGE. Lenček, Lena, and Gideon Bosker. 1999. The Beach—The History of Paradise on Earth. Harmondsworth: Penguin. Löfgren, Orvar. 1999. On Holiday: A History of Vacationing. Berkeley/Los Angeles/London: University of California Press. Lübbren, Nina. 2003. “North to South: Paradigm Shifts in European Art and Tourism, 1880-1920.” In Visual Culture and Tourism, edited by David Crouch and Nina Lübbren, 125-146. Oxford/New York: Berg. Pastoureau, Michel. 2002. Bleu—Histoire d’une couleur. Paris: Éditions du Seuil. Perec, Georges. 2008. Species of Spaces and Other Pieces. Edited and translated by John Sturrock. London/New York: Penguin. Rojek, Chris. 1993. Ways of Escape: Modern Transformations in Leisure and Travel. London: Macmillan. Schields, Rob. 1991. Places on the Margin: Alternative Geographies of Modernity. London/New York: Routledge. Schwarz, Uli. 1994. „Andenken und Photographie—Zeichen im Alltag.“ In Reisefieber—Begleitheft zur Ausstellung des Lehrstuhls für Volkskunde der Universität Regensburg, edited by Margit Berwing and Konrad Köstlin, 78-99. Regensburg: Lehrstuhl für Volkskunde. Urbain, Jean-Didier. 2002. Sur la plage—Moeurs et coutumes balnéaires (XIXe–XXe siècles). Paris: Ed. Payot & Rivages. —. 2004. “Les clapotis du néant estival.” Magazine Littérarie, JulyAugust.


The Colour Blue: Perceptions and Representations

van Gogh, Vincent. 1888. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written c. 4 June 1888 in Arles. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 499. Accessed October 29, 2012. Vitali, Massimo. Accessed October 25, 2012. Wöhler, Karlheinz. 2001. „Aufhebung von Raum und Zeit: Realitätsverlust, Wirklichkeitskonstruktion und Inkorporation von Reisebildern.“ In Reisebilder: Produktion und Reproduktion touristischer Wahrnehmung, edited by Christoph Köck, 79-87, Munster/New York/Munich/Berlin: Waxmann.


Introduction In 1997, the Spanish industrial city of Bilbao underwent a complete makeover with the completion of the great Guggenheim Museum. A new building entirely covered in twisted titanium sheets designed by the famous architect Frank Gehry. While representing a formalist gesture by its creator according to Professor Kurt W. Forster (Forster, 1998, p.9), the structure creates a particular and deep dialogue with its context. Resembling an old alien spaceship that crashed on Earth many years ago and now unsettled in an urban context, the museum becomes an integral part of its surroundings as if a great Gothic cathedral. Not only did the architecture cause a lot of disputes but also the material applied to creating this unmistakable look: titanium. There is a long tradition of deploying metal surfaces in architecture. Cathedral domes represent the most significant examples. Gilded bronze over the dome of the Pantheon in Rome (2nd century), lead over Hagia Sophia in Istanbul (6th century), gilded copper over the dome of the Mosque of Omar in Jerusalem (1193), green copper over the Palladian Basilica in Vicenza (1549), seat of the government of the city, and so on. Some places become deeply characterized by their metal roofs: for example the Golden Ring around Moscow, in Russia, including a number of churches all with golden metal domes. The material was chosen primarily for its colour: either having to contrast with the colour of the sky against which the silhouette of the building loomed, or having to be similar to the façade colours of other buildings. In Russia, the golden domes of the churches served to contrast with the grey colour of the sky. In Rome, the pale bluish colour of the lead in St. Peter’s dome (1593) had to quite closely resemble the colour of the travertine applied to the church façade. During the Modernist Movement (in the late 19th century and the early years of the 20th century), the metals extended down from the roof to


The Colour of Metal Surfaces in the Architectural Environment

cover the entire façade of certain buildings. The first attempts took place in the United States in the second half of the nineteenth century. Some architects thought they could build entire neo-classical facades in iron instead of stone with cast iron facades thus resulting. Some examples of such facades remain visible on some restored lower Broadway buildings in New York. However, the real birth of metal facades came with the 1920s when designers made recourse to rolled metal sheet for the purposes of external cladding. One of the most important figures in this architectural field was the French tinsmith Jean Prouvé (1901-1984). He designed and built many famous aluminium and steel facades in that period. The most significant were the Maison du Peuple in Clichy (1935-39) and the Roland Garros Aviation Club in Paris (1936), both designed with French architects Eugène Beaudoin and Marcel Lods. When the metal cladding is affixed to the building façade, the effect of that choice becomes amplified and thus strategic to the architectural composition as well as to designing the surrounding environment. After the Second World War, when metals were no longer exclusively needed to produce weapons and war machines, innovation in metal surfaces began. As impressing constitutes one of the main goals of contemporary art, designers needed something new every time. For such reason, in order to avoid monotony, they always tried to incorporate different renderings of these materials, combining them from time to time in different alloys and working their surfaces to obtain new effects. Through these processes, we today access a wide range of metal colours.

Colours and Metal Surfaces Most of the metal colours applied in contemporary architecture are generated and controlled by the technology. In architecture, “everything has been done before in some way or another. The only thing that changes is technology” Frank Gehry says in the film dedicated to him (Pollack, 2005). Furthermore, this technology now makes the colour charts available today almost limitless (Zennaro, 2009). When you think about metal, one of the first aspects that springs to mind is the metallic gray colour typical of most cars running on our city streets. Indeed, many metals display a silvery-gray colour, especially the steels and aluminium incorporated into many industrial applications. The materials applied in architecture and design may have two different type of chromatic nature: natural colours and artificial colours (Zennaro, 2009). Metals that have a natural colour are: non-treated

Alessandro Premier


stainless steel, aluminium, titanium and zinc, natural red copper and all its non-oxidized alloys. All other colours are artificial. Hence, the metal colours adopted in architectural designs are mostly artificial. Colours due to oxidation, which are now produced on an industrial scale, are constantly changing as the building ages under the action of weathering. Among these are: green copper, dark gray or black zinc, bronze, brass, copperaluminium alloys with their the hues changing from brown to dark green or dark red. Then, there is a very wide range of colours obtained by coating processes: plumbed copper (gray with reddish hues), tinned copper (silver-gray), copper-plated steel (pink), galvanized steel and so on. Other chemical colours are obtained by physical vapour deposition or by galvanization: red-violet, cobalt blue, black, gold etcetera. Using enamels and varnishes, we can now obtain a practically infinite range of colours until we get to the imitation of other materials such as stone or wood. There are also dichroic coatings that change their colour depending on the angle of rays of light (Gasparini, 2009). Finally, we have to consider the working of the material’s surface. For example, brushing and polishing can completely change the relationship established between the metal and the lighting and the colours of the surrounding environment to create spectacular colour effects. Furthermore, the perception of colour in the context may change depending on the shape of the building.

Relationships between Building’s Colours and Shapes The material becomes expressive when applied to an artistic or architectural artifact and whether making that artifact vibrant or bringing about its dematerialization. A slightly wavy metal plate charges itself of reflections and shadows. The long green façade of the Team Disney building in Anaheim (1987-95) by Frank Gehry proves “iridescent in bluegreen quilted-stainless steel panels that have been treated with acid and blasted with glass beads to refract light” (Dal Co, Forster, 1998, p.378). The perfectly flat façade of the Art Gallery of Ontario (2008), by the same architect, comes alive with its wavy blue titanium sheet that plays with light and with the sky. A sheet of stainless steel, when properly polished, may either mirror everything surrounding or, alternatively deforming its surroundings whenever the sheet itself is corrugated or curved. Sometimes building may disappear, mingling into the colours of the surrounding environment. One of the most significant examples of this effect is the Aplix Factory by Dominique Perrault, built near Nantes in France (2000). The polished stainless steel mirror cladding surrounds the entire building


The Colour of Metal Surfaces in the Architectural Environment

located in a countryside environment. The cladding reflects the hues of green of that natural environment and hence seems to disappear, giving the building an image of supposed ecology. Metals have often been applied for fabricating building skins in nonconventional shapes. These buildings have non-finite, often broken, crooked shapes, apparently in contrast to the classical geometry and the square forms typical of early 20th-century Rationalism. We are talking mainly about buildings designed by deconstructionist architects (Frank Gehry, Daniel Libeskind, Coop Himmelb(l)au, Thom Mayne, Günther Domenig and many others). The thin metal foils are particularly suitable for tracing the shapes of curved surfaces. For the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles (1989-2003), Frank Gehry initially planned a stone cladding similar to the one applied to the basement. For economic and feasibility reasons, he changed his idea and chose stainless steel in the execution phase. The building surface reveals a part with satin finish and a part with mirror finish. Thus, the great sails of the entrance hall, which seemingly recall the circular movements of the baton in the hand of an orchestra conductor, foster a play of shadows and reflections, broken figures, loose sheets that seem to chase one another. The building itself seems to symbolize Californian pop culture along with the movements of Disney’s Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

Interaction with Light Metals can completely change their appearance under the effect of light. The type of surface determines the type of reflection, which may be mirror like, diffused or semi-diffused. Mirrors are in fact nothing but a polished metal sheet under a glass plate. For this reason, when looking at stainless steel or aluminium surfaces at different times of the day, we never see exactly the same colour. At each stage in the passing sunlight, with every mutation in the sky, the building changes its colour. At dusk, for example, the surfaces are coloured in red and gold. When surrounded by snow, they turn to white. In the evening, they look more opaque while in the midday sun they reflect sunlight, dazzling the eyes of the observer. Curves, reliefs, etching in the surfaces generate reflections and shadows that make each building unique. However, the most significant light based transformations take place at night. The reflective metal surfaces may be coloured with artificial lighting. The metallic silvery skins suddenly become colourful when lights get turned on as the day fades. They become tinged with yellow, green, red, purple, etcetera. Frank Gehry’s Millennium Park Concert Hall in

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Chicago (2008) seems a cold stylistic exercise in twisted metal during the day before becoming a kaleidoscope of colours at night. The central space dedicated to musicians becomes yellow and white. Around, blue, purple and red light is reflected on the stainless steel surfaces projected outward as if the end of a pipe after being ripped out by an internal explosion. These are buildings with changing, unstable colours, which change during the day depending on the light or during the years due to aging and surface oxidation. Buildings with ambiguous colours, a proper colour and a colour generated by their relationship with the surrounding context.

Colour Combinations in Contemporary Landscapes The research recently conducted by the “Colour and Light in Architecture” Research Unit of Iuav University of Venice (Italy), has shown that from a chromatic interaction point of view, these surfaces may act in two different ways. According to Itten’s Colour Theory, we have noted how colours on metal surfaces can be designed to interact either only with each other or with the surrounding environment. In all the case studies we have been able to find, the research and design of colour agreements or contrasts. We have collected and studied 50 case histories of buildings realized in the last twenty years. For the main analysis, we deployed image editing software. This software reduces the number of pixels in building images and approximates them to a few colours. Similar colours are reduced to one. We then collected the main colours in each image and put them into special charts, one for each case history. In this way, we have collected the main colours of each photos, i.e. the colour combinations of each building. This specific operating methodology was previously applied in some studies undertaken by researchers at the University of Chieti-Pescara. In some buildings, the colour agreement or the colour contrast is found only in the architectural design of the façade, i.e. in the building itself. The Experience Music Project by Frank Gehry (1996-2000) is a cluster of buildings in the grey suburbs of Seattle. Dedicated to the famous guitar player Jimi Hendrix, it bears no relationship with the grey and poor urban context. The building consists of six volumes clad in metal sheets. Each volume has a different colour. Two volumes are clad in silver stainless steel, one is painted in light pale blue (almost white) another is in red whilst one is clad in gold electro-coloured stainless steel and another is clad in purple electro-coloured stainless steel. In this case, we may easily say that we are in front of a combination of four colours, set out in


The Colour of Metal Surfaces in the Architectural Environment

complementary pairs: blue-red, gold-purple and hence considering the silver surfaces as neutral. The corrugated surface of the Experimental Factory in Magdeburg by Sauerbruch & Hutton (2003) expresses the simultaneous contrast of three colours and it is painted in regular bands of orange, pink and blue. Orange and pink colours are saturated while the blue is lighter, probably cut with gray and thus the first two colours dominate the composition. The building as a whole appears wrapped in colourful ribbons, almost packaged as a gift, in contrast with the gray colours dominating the industrial area of its location. In other buildings, designers, drawing inspiration from the lesson of the past, apply the colours of metals to create a chromatic contrast with the sky: in a perfect contrast of primary colours, according to Itten’s old Colour Theory. This happens in the Berlin Philharmonic Concert Hall by Hans Scharoun (1960). The building is mostly covered with gold embossed aluminium. The cladding defines the shape of the building and visually separating it from the sky in a perfect contrast of primary colours: golden yellow Vs blue. Something similar occurs in the buildings designed by Bernard Tschumi for Parc de la Villette in Paris (1992). “The Folies” buildings by Tschumi are clad in bright red porcelain coated steel. The colour is intense and lively, in perfect contrast with the blue sky. In other contexts, for example, where the green of nature prevails as the main colour in the surrounding environment, designers prefer to apply a contrast of complementary colours. In his sculpture-building for the Niaux Cave Art Museum in the Midi-Pirenei region (France, 1988-93), the Italian architect Massimiliano Fuksas preferred Cor-Ten steel cladding, with its red-orange rust colour. The building sets a contrast of complementary colours between red and green, i.e. between the sheets of the rusty surface of the building that emerges out of the rocks and the green of the trees lining the valley immediately below it. Other designers use the surface quality of metals for blending the building into the context and thereby de-materializing it. This is the leitmotiv of the work by French architect Dominique Perrault. He builds walls out of metal mesh. Walls-non-walls that lose the material consistency of bricks or concrete and become filters, evanescent skins, almost immaterial. During this research, we found two ways of achieving this effect. The first way involves implementing a general monochrome. Through the use of completely green or blue surfaces, the building placed in a natural environment (water, sky, grass, trees, etcetera) seems to vanish into the

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landscape. The second way involves creating a completely reflective surface, a sort of large mirror that makes the building vanish into its context, reflecting the colours of everything around it. The large flat blue façade of Frank Gehry’s Art Gallery of Ontario seems designed according to the research into monochrome. In the play of colours, the titanium clad façade seems to disappear, absorbed by the blue sky. In the same way, the large green facade of the Team Disneyland Offices in Anaheim, designed by the same architect, seems to mix its colour with the sky and the green lawn behind. An emblematic example of research into monochrome comes with the Nemo Science Center in Amsterdam, designed by Renzo Piano (2000). The building is a sort of big ship, set by the city’s harbour, and entirely clad in aged green copper sheets. During some particular moments of the day, the green cladding colour seems to blend with the blue sky and the body of water lying underneath it. The already mentioned Aplix Factory by Dominique Perrault belongs to the second approach: using high reflective surfaces to merge buildings into their contexts. These kinds of buildings incorporate polished mirrored stainless steel, aluminium or titanium surfaces. They act like large reflecting mirrors colouring themselves in the colours of their surrounding environments whether made up of other buildings, asphalt, grass, trees, sky, water etcetera. One of the most spectacular and recent examples of this surface type is the Botanic Gardens Visitors Centre in Cairns (Australia) designed by Charles Wright Architects (2011) with Nu-Core® Stainless Steel panels. “The exterior of the Cairns Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre is made of reflective glass walls and mirror-finished stainless steel. The façade produces a camouflaging effect in which the building itself reflects the dense rainforest it inhabits rather than reflecting the harsh tropical sun. The central breezeway beneath the spiralling façade serves as an interactive hall of mirrors for visitors” (Skinner and Charles Wright Architects, 2012). Another example is the Mirror House by MRLP architects in Copenhagen (2011). “The facade is designed with convex and concave mirrors made of polished steel that create a distorted look similar to what you’d see from the mirrors in a funhouse. The mirrors have been mounted to each of the gabled ends of the building, as well as onto the backs of its doors. The designers at Danish architecture firm MLRP wanted to create a fun and playful building for this pavilion, which is to be used for kindergarten classes. Along with the mirrors, the exterior of the Mirror House by MLRP is clad in charred timber. According to the building’s


The Colour of Metal Surfaces in the Architectural Environment

designers, the Mirror House is part of Copenhagen’s Interactive Playground Project” (Vong, 2012).

Conclusions Among the seven invariants of contemporary architecture, Bruno Zevi places deconstructionist buildings in the school of thought that seeks the reinstatement of the relationships between buildings and their cities and landscapes. These buildings celebrate the uncertainty and fragmentation that permeate contemporary culture. “The urban iconography, [...] based on repetitive symbols that underpin institutions, must be reversed in order to celebrate the institutional insecurity” (Zevi, 1996, p. 457). These buildings seek “a handle, fragmented, lacking of historical references aesthetics, attached to everyday life and to its jarring discontinuities and bizarre intermittences. A technique based on collages, on a heterogeneous assemblage of songs, bristling with drastic collisions. Mix of elevation elements, gymnastics of light that makes objects floating in the space, deregulation, abolition of all the codes that destroy housing, multiple use” (Zevi, 1996, p. 460). The application of industrial materials such as metals seems perfect for this kind of architecture. One day, a client of Frank Gehry told him that he had ruined the world with his architectural designs made of industrial materials. He answered: “Look out of the window. What do you see out there?…” (Pollack, 2005), referring to how we have modified the landscape of our cities with trash in recent years. Certainly, as claimed by the Italian architect Vittorio Gregotti, this architecture always seeks to impress, and recourse to metal surfaces is well suited to this purpose (Gregotti, 2008). Finally, there is another very important aspect: fashion is also very influential in architectural design. As Michel Pastoureau said, people’s tastes change with the fashions, hence the attractiveness of certain colours is linked to the momentary taste of the people and to the culture of their time (Pastoureau, 2001). One good example might be the silver colour of certain Apple devices or the colour of most of our cars.

References Dal Co, Francesco, and Forstrer, Kurt W. Frank O. Gehry: The Complete Works, New York: Monacelli, 1998 Gasparini, Katia. Design in Superficie. Milan: Franco Angeli, 2009 Giedion, Sigfried. Space, Time and Architecture: The Growth of a New Tradition. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1967

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Gregotti, Vittorio. Contro la Fine dell’Architettura. Turin: Einaudi, 2008. Isenberg, Barbara. Conversations with Frank Gehry, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009 Itten, Johannes. The Art of Colour. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1973 Lindsey, Bruce. Digital Gehry. Material Resistance. Digital Construction, Basel: Birkhäuser, 2001 Masiero, Roberto. “Il Sex Appeal dell’Inossidabile”, accessed September 27, 2012,,1254, 53_ART_128558,00.html Pastoureau, Michel. Blue: The History of a Colour. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001 Pollack, Sidney (director). Sketches of Frank Gehry. Film. Sony Pictures Classic, 2005 Premier, Alessandro. Facciate Metalliche. Turin: Utet Scienze Tecniche, 2012 Skinner, Peter, and Charles Wright Architects. “Raising The Bar For Tropical And Organic Architecture”, accessed September 28, 2012, Vong, Catherine, “Reflective Funhouse Facades”, accessed September 28, 2012, Zahner, L. William. Architectural Metals: a Guide to Selection, Specifications and Performance. New York: Wiley, 1995 —. Architectural Metal Surfaces. Hoboken: Wiley, 2005 Zennaro, Pietro. Architettura Senza. Milan: Franco Angeli, 2009 Zevi, Bruno. Storia dell’architettura moderna, Vol. 2. Turin: Einaudi, 1996


Introduction (P. Zennaro) The "Colour and Light in Architecture" Research Unit of the Università Iuav di Venezia© consists of 20 researchers, working on many research topics, from history to architectural design, from environmental design to building technology. Every topic is led by a supervisor. Priority is attributed to research projects based on agreements with public or private bodies. For instance, in 2010, the Research Unit signed a threeyear agreement with the Municipality of Verona "for the development of research and experimental design activities for school buildings, concerning, in particular, aspects of adaptation to the educational needs by using aspects of colour in the different spaces, to improve learning and student achievements". The project includes several types of schools ranging from preschools to middle and secondary schools, i.e. with students aged from 6 months to 19 years old. The first research project stemmed from the urgent need to enlarge and refurbish a small kindergarten, which provided the grounds to carry out this experimental exercise. The scientific team was composed by Pietro Zennaro, Principal Investigator, and Katia Gasparini, researcher, from the University and Giulio Amighini – engineer - a Municipal Council program manager. We tested a new colour, for both interior and exterior spaces, based on the combination of a new approach and the application of new materials. The kindergarten, located in the Bassona quarter, a neighborhood of Verona, was originally designed to include only three classrooms, one for each age group (3-4 years, 4-5 years, 5-6 years). The ongoing enlargement project, defined by the relevant municipal office, involves the addition of a new classroom and the general refurbishment and requalification works on the existing building. In this kindergarten, one of the few cases in Verona, children are divided into different classes according to their age. Most other kindergartens in Verona instead run single classes with children belonging to the three different age groups, therefore seriously affecting correct childhood development. Early year pupils, in particular, learn at

Pietro Zennaro, Katia Gasparini


significantly different speeds from one year to the other as is commonly known. Putting together pupils with different ages may negatively, and as our research results showed, affect child behaviour and, on the other hand, may result in incorrect cognitive development. In the same way, spatial perception is the result of socialization skills and biological growth, which is responsible for many changes, including the increase in height that proves extremely important for spatial perception. The age groups may share the same learning activities or have separate, dedicated activities according to the learning program decided on by the teaching staff for each class. For example, older children should start to learn how to read and write and therefore cannot work together with younger children still learning how to control their body and take care of themselves. Moreover, the language of older pupils is usually more evolved than the younger, making interaction in classrooms with mixed age groups positive for the latter, but negative for the older, whose need to learn and refine their speaking level is neglected. Furthermore, the mass presence of recently arrived immigrant children, a common phenomenon in the North of Italy, who are still unable to speak the new language since their families still use their native language, makes impossible for teachers to attain the same level for the entire class, and a lot of time is dedicated to trying to bring all pupils to the same level for each subject. The behaviour and, in particular, the language of these new citizens inexorably result in a decrease in the learning conditions of other pupils. On the one hand, racial integration is facilitated, but on the other, the result is a delay in the learning development that will not be easily recovered in the future. The reason derives from each age having its own specific learning speed. When the delay is too long, overcoming the learning disparity proves very hard and, in many cases, impossible. Therefore, teachers are forced to separate Italian pupils, or vice versa, since the time required for integrating foreign-born children is subtracted from the normal curriculum. This situation results in a decrease in educational development standards, compared to a non-emergency situation, for both Italian and foreign-born children, and inevitably affecting early school grades.

The choice of colours and materials (K. Gasparini) In the early stages of the colour project, we took into account the aspects just mentioned above. Colour choices are mainly based on considerations concerning teaching space perception (Niero, Premier: 2010) and usage. Every colour project mainly considers the spatial features and adopts them in order to meet teaching needs while providing comfort


Kindergarten Colour Designs

to the people (both children and adults) living, working or visiting school environments. For example, during the months in which the school is open, attention should be paid to interior lighting or the size of windows, as well as to the choice of the colour hue, saturation and brightness. In Italy, schools are open from late September through to early June, so the seasons involved are mainly those preceding or following winter, namely autumn and spring. This correspondingly means that during summer schools are usually closed, or sometimes used as summer community centers. However, during the teaching period, the lighting conditions vary from low to medium intensity. In this lapse of time, many educational activities are carried out indoors. The daily opening hours are from 8-9 am until about 4 pm, which means that the productive part of the day is naturally lit and hence not requiring excessive artificial lighting. As far as colour is concerned and in accordance with the previous assumptions, we designed the subdivision of each space according to its respective purpose: entrance hall, teaching rooms, play spaces, restrooms, lavatory, kitchen and food warehouse, facilities, etcetera. The colours represented on the charts/diagrams (NCS, CIE or Itten’s circle, etcetera) may be divided by opposites: warm-cold, fundamental/primarycomplementary/secondary, bright-dark, and so forth. We decided to work with those colours generating a psychological impact, according to the latest studies by the AIC (International Colour Association), and especially the ECD (Study Group on Environmental Colour Design) of which we are members. Complementary colours were chosen for all common areas: orange for the entrance hall, green for more private spaces, such as teacher offices. Orange facilitates relations and stimulates energy and therefore chosen for the entrance hall spaces where people meet every day, pupils as well as their parents. Two areas have been specially designed inside the hall and paved with a grass green looking shock-absorption material. The main hall is divided into two sections by a removable wall consisting of movable modules in various colours (those adopted for every teaching or service space), accessible through the main entrance. The doors of each classroom, plated with synthetic material in the same colour as the classroom itself, lead on to the hall. This solution also helps younger pupils to immediately identify their classrooms: yellow, red, blue and turquoise. As already stated, the orange used in the hall generates a socializing effect but was also chosen in order to obtain a less dramatic effect as the space is northwards facing and has a limited number of windows. A kindergarten school represents a community sharing the same interests for a period of three years. For pupils, teachers and parents, the

Pietro Zennaro, Katia Gasparini


ability to overcome every barrier proves quite important and the way we achieve this by applying colour solutions is noticeable. Each classroom was painted in a primary colour chosen according to the children’s age: yellow for the younger, red for medium and blue for the older pupils. The yellow, slightly warm, activates psychomotor activities, making space and object reading easy. We then chose deep red to paint the classroom walls of the children belonging to the second age group as they are halfway between acquiring rules and paying more attention to world knowledge. In this case, pupils are stimulated by colour whilst, simultaneously, controlled and intrigued by the activities and training courses. The blue applied to the third classroom’s walls aims at calming hyperactivity among children. Blue furthermore helps pupils pay more attention to intellectual activities. In this period of their life, they usually begin reading and writing. Thus, they need to focus on learning activities and not getting distracted by exceptions and signals in the surrounding environment. The fourth classroom was painted in a blue-green shade, a kind of turquoise, with similar properties to blue. This colour was selected in accordance with the multi-purpose functioning of this space whether working together with different age groups or as a sleeping room for the younger pupils. Neither warm nor cold, this space thus serves as a rotational classroom, permitting several types of activity. All restrooms are accessible from each classroom and similarly finished: grey vinyl flooring with orange and grey micro intrusion, walls covered in orange tiles with some specifically designed geometric plugs. All interior floors are made from resilient shock absorbing material to reduce the impact whenever pupils fall over, which may occur quite frequently given their age. The walls are painted up to 1.50 meters high and match the floor, which, featuring a two-colour pattern, provides the base colours for the walls. The darker colour was applied up to 30 cm high off the ground, while the remaining section was painted in the lighter colour. Pursuant to a local hygiene regulation, walls in spaces intended for public use, such as schools, are required to be washable up to 1.50 meter high. This commonly results in a wall subdivision that produces a significant claustrophobic feeling in users of the space. Therefore, we decided to reduce this effect by creating a rise that may constitute a kind of horizon line that younger pupils may climb. This horizon line may also be modified by new forms designed by the pupils. The use of washable materials allows for such modifications to be easily removed simply by washing the wall. The remaining parts of the walls and the ceilings are painted white and made out of material with high noise absorption properties. The floor and


Kindergarten Colour Designs

lower parts of the walls therefore display a brighter appearance due to the light reflected down by the wall’s upper sections and the ceilings. Finally, all other finishes are grey in order to meet the need to reduce costs. Prior to the renovation works, the school exteriors were painted white, turned grey by smog and general wear and tear. As the school is a singlestorey building, nestling in a small green park, it resembled one of those houses – and there are many examples – built in the 1970s. No one would ever imagine this was a public school and certainly not a kindergarten. As we had the opportunity to work on thermal insulation, we decided to endow the school exteriors with a new colour communicating the building’s public function. The building’s plan was originally designed by aggregated volumes, creating a very interrelated façade design as well as a strangely sloping roof. We hope we solved this confusion by painting the smaller walls diagonally and the others according to a kind of red and yellow wave that extends over the whole school elevation. We also took the opportunity to incorporate an old volume placed over the roof, containing the chimneys, where we designed a kind of metal pyramid topped by a weathervane with a yellow flag shape. The new external look of this school definitely resembles its function. Throughout the city of Verona, the external walls and shapes of schools usually do not express their function and the activities ongoing inside. Therefore, this is the first renovation clearly expressing building’s function and thereby improving children’s wellbeing. This case study is still under monitoring. The behaviours of children in attendance as well as their teachers, parents and residents in the area remain under study. Any change in colour is possible in the future.

Colour perception in our times (P. Zennaro) Kindergartens are built environments that play an important role in any child's personality development. As already stated, these places are attended by children with an age range of between three and six years. During this period of their life, pupils change every day and their transformations are easily detectable in their character, behaviour, adaptation to the environment, knowledge and skills, both intellectual and practical. This is the age in which a very complex perceptive and behavioural situation plays an important role that every subject involved in the pupils’ growth, from parents, to teachers and even designers, must be aware of.

Pietro Zennaro, Katia Gasparini


This change seems to be due both to biologically hereditary and environmental factors. Both these factors are responsible for the psychological and physical development of individuals. While the biological factors are responsible in nature for the greatest change as a result of family inheritance, the environmental factors contribute to the very founding of future adult behaviour. The quality of change, in terms of speed and the sharpness of its manifestations, varies from subject to subject and the stimuli received are responsible for much of their mental development and future growth and behaviour (Barrett 2010). Since their external expressions are particularly evident and extrovert, educators are familiar with children’s behaviour during this particular period of their lives. This profitable combination provides researchers with a good scope for dealing with such behaviours as data retrieval is easy and every inquiry usually generates easily exploitable results. In terms of colour, the signal amplification and appreciation or dislike expressions hold great relevance to designers dealing with child dedicated spaces and artifacts. The frankness of children in giving answers, coupled with their evident ingenuousness, results in a good aid for the management of tests and the feedback resulting therefore becomes correspondingly evident. On the other hand, consumer society’s interpretation of the choices of children represents another basic factor for comprehending the chromatic world of childhood. We must thus also take into account that most of the toys or furnishings designed for children is significantly coloured, with accentuated colour tones and saturations. The context the market poses to children is a kind of fairy tale world where the eyes are no longer able to grasp reality when not violently highlighted. While the market still offers this hyper coloured landscape, parents cannot make any different choices in their chromatic gamma selection (Gasparini 2007). In other words, parents are forced to buy and adapt their choices according to the products on sale with no alternatives allowed. Colours in our society are a sort of weapon of conviction, marketingoriented, offering only colourful, bright and saturated tone solutions. Far from everyone’s banal daily life, in order to attract the buyer’s attention, the exception is represented only by providing dreamlike imaginary places and landscapes, where reason must be put aside in favour of an unconscious compulsory buying impulse. For example, in neuromarketing studies, neuroscience discoveries are applied to marketing. The use of colour is strategic to this dreamy world. Unaware of being unconscious instruments adopted exclusively for commercial purposes, we can therefore see how colours affect people. Moreover, the use of electronic devices in everyday life, augmented reality, video screens, TV sets, the


Kindergarten Colour Designs

web and a variety of media and mass entertainment means result in a major impact on education and hence pedagogues are focusing on new teaching methods (Gasparini 2011). An aspect rarely taken into account is how parents are simply not aware of the effects of colour has on their children. Read as an incontrovertible fact, parents envelop their children in an artificial landscape provided by manufacturing companies: from television broadcasts to clothing, from furniture to objects, deploying strong colours for furniture, objects and spaces. Therefore, adults almost inevitably tend to provide their children with spaces and objects that are very far from those offered by nature. The new electronic landscape is indeed forcing educators to update their theories and teaching approaches in any school grade to fit this new world. This new contemporary environment has very destabilizing effects since new strategies have not yet been developed. To adapt to new conditions, educators have not yet experimented with new approaches able to test the not-well defined boundaries. Kindergartens tend to fully reflect this logic, which in turn comes up against regulatory, economic and everyday limitations. Commonly, in kindergartens different colours are applied on walls, sometimes using hues, tones and saturations, often irritating where not actually depressing and almost always inadequate. Sensitized to these aspects affecting future humans, as researchers, teachers and architects, we decided to start this research aimed at a new approach for colour usage in schools.

References Barrett, P. 2010. Creating Sensory-Sensitive Creative Spaces. In Colour&Light in Architecture, ed. P. Zennaro. Verona: Knemesi, 187192. Gasparini, K. 2007. Superfici in mutazione. In Il coloure nella produzione di architettura, ed. by P. Zennaro. Verona: Iperedizioni, 71-80. —. 2011. Visioni superficiali. In in Superficie, ed. A. Premier. Verona: Knemesi, 43-61. Niero, D.; A. Premier. 2010. Colour in the Schools. In Colour&Light in Architecture, ed. P. Zennaro. Verona: Knemesi, 475-481.


The importance of chromatic data relating to fortified cities and works of defence is a little-studied aspect of the architectural obsidional, and has rarely been seen in relation to the way in which cities and their surrounding walls are represented. Critical studies usually concentrate on specific issues, in particular on the relationship between the evolution of the forms of fortresses, the technological progress in firearms and defence/offense strategies. In fact, the walled city, which was the urban model prevalent in the West for centuries, is present today for historians, as a structural feature that simultaneously proves urban, social, political and, at the level of representation, an image. As always, urban consciousness tends to identify with those symbols that give rise to a collective imagination, the design of walls and towers has often been used as a sort of city "logo" as Isidore of Seville says "Urbs ipsa moenia sunt" (Etymologiae, XV, 2). We should also note that, while fortresses were commonly identified by their own colour, obviously relating to their construction materials, the desire to give shape to this proper matter by adding products through a clever use of colours combined with these symbolic architectural values. This relates both to the outer wall surfaces, whether facing the countryside or into the city, and those internally, inside the city gates, where can be found frequently frescoes and decorative motifs related to the layout of residences and rooms inside the city gates. Fortification colours therefore represent matter and form. Matter as such, because the clever combination of available materials and construction techniques has permitted to obtain chromatic effects, that both allowed for an increase in the visual impact showing simultaneously other values of the purely military artifacts. At the same time, this structure forming frescoes and decorative motifs which, in


Colours of Military between Architecture and Pictorial Representation

a sense, overlap the architecture with a formal apparatus is seamlessly integrated into the tastes and traditions of the respective place. On the other hand, the role of colour descriptions in urban areas remained absolutely dominant at least through to the sixteenth century as demonstrated by the numerous representations to a greater or lesser extent idealized or faithful to the walled cities. In light of this fact, the city "portrait" constitutes the highest form of celebrating urban power, whether held by a king, a pope or a prince. Although the assumption that only after the invention of perspective could such representations have become truly realistic traditionally gets accepted, there are previous examples of depictions of medieval cities which, beyond fidelity to the model represented, deliberately stress the colour appearance. This representation proves necessary to characterize the imago urbis, especially considering that the town, contained and protected by its walls, it's opposed to the nature surrounding it, the fourteenth "selva oscura, selvaggia e aspra e forte" by Dante (Divina Commedia, Inferno, I, 1-6). One interesting case comes from a board by Bartolo di Fredi, L'Adorazione dei Magi (Pinacoteca Nazionale di Siena) and probably part of his Deposizione dating 1385-88, in which the colours applied to describe the city -recognizable as Siena for the presence of a two tone building- clearly strive to highlight the enormous and not only physical difference, between the city, colourful and pretty, and the surrounding desert. The city is a compact and solid object, defined and isolated from the surrounding context by means of the traditional boundary walls, which assume the role of a real demarcation line between the inside and the outside. From the 14th century to the Renaissance, this awareness of antinomy, indicated by the walls and displaying the difference between order and chaos, organized space and wilderness, becomes more acute with every event disturbing the peaceful unfolding of a life governed by law, which are represented as beyond the walls themselves. In this regard, they convey to us that in real life, and not only in paintings, executions happened "outside". In placing the emphasis on this contrast, painters not only deployed tricks of contrast between forms but especially between colours. In Cacciata dei diavoli da Arezzo (chiesa superiore, San Francesco, Assisi), painted at the end of the 13th century, for example, Giotto portrayed a colourful city, overrun by demons, in which the bright colours of the stone, inlaid with pink brick, yellow and green plaster, however provide us with a bright objective and joyful presence that even the devils cannot make sinister. He contrasted the white church, referring to the spiritual world they belonged to, and placed Saint Francis and Saint

Manuela Zorzi


Sylvester in the foreground. The colour choice is, therefore, functional and serving to increase the pathos aroused by this description of a miraculous event. In addition, this city’s walls and the overwhelmingly dominated buildings are not architectures of invention. On the contrary, while emphasizing the off scale, it does not in fact seem an exclusively pictorial exercise with the representation of towers, turrets, houses with balconies speaking of a real, lived in and carefully observed city. While we can apparently find no recognizable evidence of the city of Arezzo, it is very interesting that particular attention is paid to the details of the church on the left and the walls on the right. The defensive curtain is made of light and thin walls, characterized by a rusticated basement or lower section (however, this basement consists of stone blocks), and plaster in the higher reaches where the element of mediation between the two different wall treatments gets highlighted by a red frame acting as a string coursing and curving through the gates and over the door. This means of representing walls corresponds to an ancient building tradition, which also seems confirmed by another representation: a miniature in which the curtain has a stone basement string course in a contrasting colour and a smooth presumably plastered top1. We commonly find similar emphases on the sections of walkways in other 15th century miniatures. Furthermore, these devices were actually applied in the construction of medieval fortifications. This utilization has been documented by many examples in the Veneto, between these and the scaligere fortification walls 2 , such as those of Soave, (second half of the 14th century), which in fact present a construction system involving stone blocks along horizontal courses with only two double rows of bricks defining the basement area and the section of walkway with the paving clearly coated to protect the underlying masonry and resulting in a uniform surface3 (see Fig. 1). There are also other significant details such as differentiation in the various materials used for highlighting some peculiar elements of the fortress, such as the angular reinforcement made out of large gray square stones, contrasting with the white surface of the curtain. This also highlights the nature of the strong facing ashlar details found in these paintings in which the presence of walled towns and turrets gets particularly 1

St. Matthew, miniature from the Gospels called the Celestine, half of the XI century, Paris, Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal, ms. 1171, f. 17v. 2 Fortifications built during the period of domination by the family of the Della Scala. 3 It should be noted, however, that the presence of Giotto is documented in Verona for executing the portrait of Cangrande della Scala.


Colours of Military between Architecture and Pictorial Representation

emphasised. In a miniature, now in the Biblioteca Marciana in Venice, the city of Pamplona is characterized by a curtain wall in large stone blocks clearly drafted to establish a regular geometric lattice: mutatis mutandis, we find a similar treatment of surfaces in the castle of Asolo4 (see Fig. 2); while in another French miniature, the tower walls are corner gray stone reinforcements, which contrast with the remainder of the wall5, exactly as in the lower castle of Soave. Clearly, finding such a characteristic feature in representations of traditional medieval city walls separated by such distance over both time and space, we may venture the hypothesis that these formal characteristics were indeed typical of fortified buildings between at least the 10th and 15th centuries. This furthermore confirms how painters and illuminators, while creating an image of fantasy, drew on architectural details, even if not entirely consciously and/or even intentionally, from what we might call their "everyday life". They painted what belonged to their direct experience translated into a figurative repertoire. What was "their daily life" however, were fortified complexes that displayed very precise characteristics and, we should note, partially lost over course of the subsequent centuries. The Venetian strongholds, in particular have been recently the subject of surveys, which showed that their appearance at the time of construction differed greatly from their current image 6 . Such 4

The masonry of the fortress of Asolo, in blocks of yellowish sandstone and conglomerate, layers in regular rows, has a mortar bed of gray-beige which superimposes a thin layer of white mortar grouting, with the clear function of regularising the surfaces. The joints, in fact, clearly legible in an ordered lattice, partially cover the edges of the stone elements and the horizontal lines are diagonally shaped. This refined finish shows a strong aesthetic intent, which was to contribute to a completely original and unexpected colour effect, given that it is the outer wall of a fortress. The emphasis of the lattice wall but also the attention to the representation of details related to construction materials was fairly widespread in miniatures: in this respect, see also the Choir Books of the second half of the 15th century preserved in the Libreria Piccolomini (Siena), in particular the scene Strage degli Innocenti, (cod. 102.8, c.68v.) illustrated by Pellegrino da Mariano, and the scene Isacco ordina a Esaù di recarsi a caccia (cod. 6.F, c.3r) by Guidoccio Cozzarelli. 5 Bataille des chrétiens et des Maures en face de Pampelune, in L’entree d’Espagne, sec. XIV, Venezia, Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, cod. ms. Fr. Z.21 (=257), and Assassinat du duc de Bourgogne sur le pont de Montereau in Chronique de Enguerrand de Monstrelet, 15th century, Paris, Bibliotheque de l'Arsenal, Ms 5084. 6 Some results of these investigations were presented in the VIII Color Conference, 13-14 September 2012, Bologna.

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studies have demonstrated the intentional search to incorporate particular aesthetic effects into purely military artifacts: the findings also point to some of these tricks being played out in paintings and thereby indicating just how this aspect was understood and acknowledged by their contemporaries.

Jerusalem While therefore true that at least until the 15th century, the urban vision remained mostly symbolic and city walls, almost character shaped, represented the city only in aspects perceived as characteristic, namely that of defence and protection, it also holds equally true that when painters and miniaturists inserted the actual details into the city’s design, they bore in mind references to real architectures. And precisely these details made that village or that city immanent even if actually the fruit of their imagination. Out of all these urban representations deployed as scenic backdrops for the performances taking place in the foreground, they were absolutely functional in order to amplify the pathos; with one particular instance established by representations of Jerusalem. The starting point derives from the literary description of the Apocalypse of John (XXI / 18-21) 18

The construction of its walls was jasper. The city was pure gold, like pure glass. 19 The foundations of the city's wall were adorned with all kind of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper, the second, sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth, emerald; 20 The fifth, sardonyx, the sixth, sardius, the seventh, chrysolite, the eighth, beryl, the ninth, topaz, the tenth chrysoprasus, the eleventh, jacinth and the twelfth, quartz. 21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls. Each one of the gates was made of one pearl. The street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

We know that the apocalyptic theme was particularly widespread in medieval times. In Spain, the IV Council of Toledo (633), which had been established for the Easter period, obligated proceedings began with the reading of the Apocalypse and disseminating the content through preaching (Heitz 1963, 130-133) (Heitz 1979, 219-221). These precepts also resulted in the flowering of commentaries and illuminated manuscripts in which the heavenly Jerusalem was represented differently, in keeping with the lines of literary description. This is a very colourful reality: there are gold, pearls, precious stones; the colour value was


Colours of Military between Architecture and Pictorial Representation

obviously one of the highlights of this city and its otherworldly aspect seems to have been most impressive in its walls according to the description. This feature was well understood by the miniaturists and painters who reproduce the characteristics not only in representations of the heavenly Jerusalem but also in those of the real city: for example the case of the unknown author of a 15th century miniature (Osterreichische Nationalbibliothek, Wien), which depicts the siege of Jerusalem by the Crusaders. The illuminator, possibly ignoring the aspect of the Jewish city, adapts the literal description to a real city and represents a city with high walls punctuated by slender towers, all intensely coloured. However, this is not the only example: we may mention the city as a backdrop to the scene of Jesus Christ carrying the cross at Calvary, illuminated in a 16th century Dutch Book of Hours, which presents considerable chromatic contrasts between its components; and also the Entrata di Cristo in Gerusalemme, illuminated by Liberale da Verona7. A further elaboration of the model of Jerusalem stems from the inclusion of construction detailing the viewing experience of the illuminator, an example of which is an illuminated 15th century French manuscript, which describes the surrender of Jerusalem to Saladin, where there is a colourful town but in which the fortification shapes are typically medieval and moreover including the presence of steep roofs 8 . In the reconstruction of the image of the distant city, there was an overlapping of apocalyptic description and local and urban realities, rendering poignancy to the symbolic meanings. All this is symptomatic especially when relating this to the fact that Jerusalem is instead white like the desert surrounding it and from which it originated. The stone for its construction seems almost carved out of a block from its interior. Its candour likely makes it instantly recognizable at first sight to travelers because of the uniqueness of its materials and their colours. The translated images of literary description, functional but limited to enriching this sacred text and commentaries, crossed the boundary which originally limited them and gradually became part of a no longer existing lexicon and a figurative culture. There is, however, another facet to this matter: the city described by John was accepted as a real archetype and hence the turrets and battlements oriented according to the four cardinal points became the 7

Nederlandsch Getijdenboek, Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, Venezia, cod. It I.35 (=5026) and also Choir book, , Libreria Piccolomini, Siena, cod. 22.7. 8 The capture of Jerusalem by Saladin (October 2, 1187) in David Aubert, Chronique abrégé de Jerusalem, 15th century, Biblioteque del l'Arsenal, Paris.

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model for descriptions of the "ideal" city even while the colour attributed is often white (Peroni 1974, 688-689). In this regard, this represents an interesting ideal representation of the city of Treviso (14th century), painted as a white city with twelve towers and featuring a temple with three golden domes in an obvious symbolic reference to the image and an attempt to identify Treviso with Jerusalem (Frugoni 1983, 86-88, Puppi 1982, 8, 15)9 (Fig. 3). Once again, in the Giudizio di Salomone, Giorgione paints a building in the background identifiable by certain details as the Palazzo Ducale in Venice and its façade facing San Marco basin while the round dome above simultaneously conveys the image as an iconic synthesis of Venice-Jerusalem. In the end, there are many examples of real cities, with their identities subject to due identification, transfigured into prototypes of Jerusalem. One emblematic case is Siena turned into Jerusalem when the Palm Sunday procession led by the Bishop around the walls of the city reaches the Porta Salaria to greet Christ. Conversely, in the Entrata di Cristo in Gerusalemme painted by Duccio (di Buoninsegna) on the back of the famous Maestà, in around 1310, Siena takes the place of Jerusalem.

From the miniature to the city portrait Far from being mere painting expedients, the careful use of detail and colour taking on formal and symbolic meanings, although typical of miniatures, also occurs in paintings. Furthermore, as regards some artists, there is also the documented activities of illuminators and Dante, testifying to the appreciation and high regard for the art form in the Divina Commedia puts painting on a par with poetry, reporting Cimabue/Giotto as a parallel to the binomial painting Oderisi da Gubbio/Franco Bolognese for the miniature (Purgatorio, I, 91-99). Two centuries later, demonstrating the persistence of this attitude over a very wide time span, we find within prayer books, books of hours and chorals the exquisite workmanship produced by members of the cultural elite of that time. Just to mention two of the many examples, there are the illuminated manuscripts of Cardinal Grimani preserved in Venice and those (unfortunately lost) meant to be preserved and shown in the Piccolomini Library in Siena (Settis 1998). The practice of drawing very small pictures packed with detail probably explains the painting by Pisanello which, in Verona’s St. Anastasia church fresco, takes the Partenza di San Giorgio as its subject, 9

The fresco belongs to a cycle of stories in the homonymous convent of Santa Caterina.


Colours of Military between Architecture and Pictorial Representation

painting a landscape that seems to silently participate in a rarefied atmosphere of suspense and shock following St. George's departure and, in particular, represents the city of Trabzon in the form of a great city, with its rich architecture populated by dense towers, the spires of religious buildings and almost suspended in space and in time. These imaginative architectures help nurture a fairytale atmosphere similar to that which cloaked cities in some of the illustrations by the Breviario Grimani10: the anonymous illuminator using a light colour, soaring, almost translucent, but simultaneously emphasizing the different chromatic towers and curtains and adding details derived from daily routines to outline a fantastic city, close and yet far from our immanent experience. In addition, there is the city in the background of the Crucifixion, a miniature in the missal of Cardinal Giovanni Borgia (1481-82). In this representation, previously attributed to Perugino, but more likely by Bernardino Pinturicchio, the painter, adopting a bluish colour, seems to convey the city’s sorrow at the death of Christ and possibly attempting to recall the moment described in the Gospels. The rainbow dominating the landscape clearly announces the salvation of the inhabitants of the city below despite their guilt at having ordered the death of the Messiah. The idea to bring into the miniature's environment Pinturicchio’s formation, who in this Crucifixion (see Fig. 4) sought to demonstrate "magnificence and pride" in his work, would in fact be proven by the clarity of form, the attention to detail, the use of "pure, bright colours in his kaleidoscopic palette", the rich, sometimes three-dimensional decorations, and the presence of factual items and fantastical items coexisting with each other. These features, typical of this art form, are found in the frescoes that Pinturicchio realized in 1502-08 to illustrate the life of Pope Pius II on the walls of the Libreria Piccolomini in Siena Cathedral (Mancini 2007, 43-45). In the background, we find the great fortified cities that already populated his miniatures, particularly in the representation of Ancona, in the absence of details enabling any recognition of the city regardless of the story unfolding in the foreground. Thus, we make out a clearer colour for the port city that emphasises it forcefully against the rest of the walls. A similar emphasis is placed on the specific value of the city gates in another painting by Pinturicchio, Madonna e Bambino, in the Eroli chapel, Spoleto cathedral. This cannot be considered a mere expedient of the painting because we know that the fortified architecture presented was usually diversified between the parties. Furthermore, references to the city gates, in particular, 10

Venezia, Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, cod. Lat. I, 99 (=2138).

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were reserved for architecture and the formal surface treatments different to the necessary and sufficient depiction of the curtains behind, on the one hand, to increase the sense of defensive capability and, on the other, to signal their presence (Zorzi 2012, 129-132). Finally, to show how careful orchestration of colour tones belong to Pinturicchio’s artistic sensibility as well as his technique, in addition to the aforementioned works, we may point to the portrait of Alberto Aringhieri (chapel of San Giovanni Battista, Siena, Duomo) where the chromatic contrast "fa percepire lo scarto di temperatura che corre fra il verde umido e muschioso del primo piano dove alloggia il giovane armato, e le plaghe aride e assolate che danno ricetto, sullo sfondo, a fantasiose città fortificate" (Mancini 2007, 234). The city’s chromatism participates, therefore, in that of the landscape. Art criticism, proposed by Vasari, has deemed the work of Giotto as a basic starting point for explaining the evolution of painting and, in fact, in relation to the presence of a background landscape, in particular of populated fortified cities as in the aforementioned Cacciata dei diavoli da Arezzo, there is a prime example of a city participating in the narrative. However, only after the 15th century does the landscape/background described become totally realistic and entirely plausible as the intention turns to recording a given architectural reality, existing and readily identifiable, in order to represent, although in the distance, a shrunken city, miniaturized but real. However, there are exceptions, i.e. cases in which the city becomes the true subject of the painting with painters continuing to practice in their workshops tested patterns of villages and fortresses for when required to paint a real city portrait. The work of Pinturicchio is also notable in this regard when commissioned by Pope Innocent VIII to decorate the walls of a loggia with views of the city, three of the sea and three of the earth, perhaps in order to propose a synthesis of Italy through the representation of its major urban centers 11 (Mancini 2007, 108-109). The example of Simone Martini is also interesting to note. In the stories of Blessed Agostino Novello, he portrays an absolutely schematic city not in any way attributable to a real city. Nevertheless, before making the fresco of Monte Massi and Sasso Forte, in the Sala dei Nove of the Palazzo Pubblico of Siena, he spent, at the expense of the City, a week in 11

Unfortunately, the wretched survivors of these fresco fragments do not provide for a proper assessment of the accuracy of these views’ adherence to geographic data.


Colours of Military between Architecture and Pictorial Representation

the countryside in order to portray in real life possessions acquired by Siena during the conquest of the long campaign that the Sala dei Nove fresco was paying homage to. In fact, the topographical representation of the city, aiming at perfect adhesion to the historical event illustrated, goes through an accurate representation of the truth and making the same familiar landscape a guarantor of the truth of the celebrated episode. A few years later, in 1338, in the same Sala dei Nove, Ambrogio Lorenzetti's fresco of the Buon Governo creates and gives life to a colourful city, restored in its complexity and with many details clearly taken from real life. As regards the walls in particular, these are not only shown from the outside, the main function of the dividing line between the city and the county, but viewers may capture internal construction details, such as the large internal arches of the shielded towers, typical of medieval walls, and especially the bright red of the brick, highlighted by the details standing out against the wall and exemplified by the olive tree growing at the foot of the wall itself. A reddish Siena is also what, over a century later, in 1467, Francesco di Giorgio Martini paints in a tablet dedicated to Nostra Signora del Terremoto. The city is actually the true subject of the painting and where the major impact of colour shows that red brick was indeed the urban colour perceived by his contemporaries (see Fig. 5) and, furthermore, still visible today. However, when the city is not part of the story but background with the function of immersing the scene represented in a context familiar to the observer, the recognizable landscape features prove a specific reflection of figurative painting. In this regard, there are some unusual cases in Venetian painters active during the late 15th and early 16th centuries with the activities of Cima da Conegliano especially interesting (Carlo 2010, 119). His debts to Giovanni Bellini, his master and Andrea Mantegna12 were well known and he seems 12 In relation to Giovanni Bellini, see especially the Crocifissione, 1501-03, (Prato, Cassa di Risparmi e Depositi) and San Francesco in estasi (New York, The Frick Collection); Bellini's landscapes have a great degree of credibility and likeness, so that they often tried to recognize the topographical accuracy of recognizable places in his images, in fact, the intention of the painter was painting a landscape that must seem natural to make possible its recognition and didactic clarity, so as to give a dimension to daily religion (Gibbons F., Giovanni Bellini's topographical landscape, in Studies in Late Medieval and Renaissance painting in Honor of Millard Meiss, New York, 1977, pp.174-184). It should, however, be pointed out that Bellini gave great attention to colour: the bright colours used to paint the

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to have derived these particular colours from them. He differs from the work of these painters because his cities are not fantastic and full of archaeological or antiquarian quotations, but instead modern. Although in his paintings of Conegliano, the representation is constructed just as in Bellini, this results in the marked appearance of truth, an almost photographic reproduction: the "countries" of Cima differ from those of his master not only in topographical accuracy, in some cases already ascertained, but also for his wider adherence to the viewing experience. His "portraits of places" transform the landscape into a place for the soul, tinged with acute nostalgia. In particular, in the paintings of his early days we find landscape backgrounds associated with the precise geographical reality, implemented with reproductions from the hills of his family, dominated by the imposing castles that we can identify with that of Conegliano and its neighbouring foothills. In Madonna col Bambino (London, National Gallery), but in particular in the Sant'Elena (Washington, Gallery of Art), the Rocca of Conegliano, vision of the present and immanent, dominates the far landscape (see Fig. 6). We see the river, the walled city at the foot of a green hill and fortified in the background, the left and third floor, another castle dominated by a tower. We recognize Porta Monticano, the eastern entrance of the village, a scaligera construction and built in the second half of the 14th century, with the bridge now known as "della Madonna" and the ezzeliniano defensive stronghold dating from the early 13th century, and the castle hill, with the superb walls now almost completely destroyed, with the castle of Susegana in the distance (Potocnick 1993, 38-42). Interestingly enough, there is also a recognisable depiction of Collalto castle in the background of the Madonna con il Bambino e i santi Michele arcangelo e Andrea apostolo (Parma, Galleria Nazionale). It should be noted that the incredible forest of towers on the hill visible in the paintings of Cima look very different from the forts, because of late 18th century demolitions and flashy style 19th century restorations but still reflecting the cities between the 15th and 16th centuries. In other works, although with less precise reproduction, we find walled cities clearly inspired by contemporary examples of late medieval Venetian towns, such as in Adorazione dei Pastori (1509-10), Venezia, chiesa del Carmine, and Madonna dell'Arancio (c. 1495), Venezia, Gallerie dell'Accademia, where the representation of landscapes typical of Cima, characterized by a sweet nature and urban fortress identifiable as the Rocca of Gradara (Pesaro) reproduce the natural colour of the walls of the fortress itself. About Andrea Mantegna, Orazione nell'Orto, c. 1459, London, National Gallery, and Crocifissione, 1457-59, Paris, Musée du Louvre.


Colours of Military between Architecture and Pictorial Representation

integration, such as the big castle perched on a hill and a lower boundary that seems to surround the hill, can hardly be explained by a transposition, albeit fantastic, with examples from direct experience13. Thus, in Cima, attention to the landscape puts aside the particular, special interest in the earthly world of the stones and inevitably coincides with the colour and quality of building materials (especially the marbles then being installed according to the geometric forms of the late 15th century) and clearly seen in the attention shown in the series of marble details on the facing of the Miracolo di San Marco (Berlin, Gemaldegalerie, Staatliche Museen). This attention both to the topographical and also to the material of the landscape unsurprisingly links Cima to another famous painter, Albrecht Durer with whom the Venetian might have personally come into contact14. In fact, the German, who arrived in Venice, may have gone to the workshop of the artist closest to him and with most similar feelings and intentions. His attention to realistic facts shows, for example, in a watercolour of the Castle of Trento (British Museum, London), painted during his first trip to Italy and perhaps on the way back (1495), and clearly marked with the intention to provide a picture as real as possible. The design is strongly characterized by recourse to different colours to highlight the constituent parts of the walls. We may thus recognise the uniform wall hangings against the spread of light-coloured plaster, in which the round stone towers stand out not only in form, but also for their chromatic contrast. There are very many interesting details in the band corresponding to the battlements, diversified from the curtain, reminiscent of similar underlying details in his earliest representations. Adhering to the truth contained in perhaps little more than a sketch still has to be put in 13 It should however be noted that the inclusion of Madonnas and saints in the landscape holds a precedent in the famous painting by Bartolomeo Montagna, a former pupil of Bellini, Madonna and Sante Monica and Maria Maddalena (1483) Vicenza, Museo Civico, and will spread after 1500 courtesy of the later works of Cima da Conegliano. 14 From a letter by the same Durer to German humanist Willibald Pirkheimer, we know that he had been in contact with Giovanni Bellini. On the stylistic and painting affinities between Cima and Durer, it should be noted that in the 18th century, there was a proposal to award the German authorship of the Madonna con il Bambino e i santi Michele arcangelo e Andrea apostolo, considered, however today, a masterpiece by Cima. In this regard, see Carlo G., Villa F. eds., Cima da Conegliano. Poeta del paesaggio, Venezia: Marsilio, 2010, 137-139.. About the possible derivations of pictorial models of Cima by similar subjects represented in the works of Flemish painters, see instead Lucco M., La pittura nel Veneto: Il Quattrocento, Electa: Milano, 1990, 63-69. .

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series with his other works in which, instead, great freedom is endowed to the invention of painting. Thus, in Beweinung Christi (Alte Pinakothek, Munich), the buildings, emphatically developed vertically, offer the spectacle of a fantastic city, as the fantastic images served to decorate the Geberbuch Kurfurst Maximilians I (Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek, Munich). These methods and their results in representing space gradually modified over the centuries while we should note that in Renaissance paintings, landscapes appear quite realistic and entirely plausible despite early landscapes were not painted based on life experiences but from figments of the imagination or artistic reconstructions and appeared with a combination of real landscape elements (e.g. existing architecture) with other pure inventions (hills, rivers and ruins). Furthermore, the interest of painters in landscape painting is reflected by the fact that some subjects dear to the tradition of painting became a pretext to paint extended landscapes paintings such as the Fuga in Egitto, the Santi Eremiti, the Orazione nell'Orto, to name but a few, where the biblical narrative took second place with respect to the representation of the natural and/or manmade environment in which the scene was set. Upstream of course, there was the need on behalf of the artists to record a given architectural concrete reality, existing and readily identifiable, in order to represent, although in the background, real cities. And this is even more significant in the case of Veneto when considering the appearance of the landscape that now characterises this region and that was probably translated into painting: larger areas occupied by forests and woodlands interrupted here and there by lowland marshes, grasslands, glades and a few fragile and isolated villages and citadels. Furthermore, as pointed out, these fortified structures, thanks to the special construction techniques applied, stood out from the landscape chromatically by offering a uniform, lightly coloured vision15.


There are specific findings related to the fact that the boundary walls of many Venetian fortifications were covered with a coating of plaster mortar rich in lime and sand, more or less coarse, especially necessary to standardize the surfaces of the underlying structures of stone, gravel or brick but, simultaneously giving the wall a uniform yellowish-white colouring: in this regard, see note 5 above. Although in the absence of specific studies on the walls of Conegliano, a few fragments of walls, still in place, show that these curtain walls were plastered. However, we would also note that, in Sant'Elena by Cima da Conegliano, the facades of the huts on the right of the painting are brick without plaster and correspondingly characterised by a reddish colour, different to that used to outline the curtain walls of the Conegliano fortress.


Colours of Military between Architecture and Pictorial Representation

The conclusion of this series of examples in no way intends to be exhaustive but simply drawing attention to an issue across the history of art and architecture, and of course, providing some points of reflection, leaving the field open for further research and considerations. This is the emblematic case of another Venetian artist, Giorgione da Castelfranco. There is a drawing autograph, today at the Boymans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, which reproduces in blood, the dungeon of Montagnana, Castel San Zeno, tracing the profile absolutely precisely and recognisably. The identification, defined as "utterly convincing", is based on compelling data, point-to-point correspondence between the old building, with the design evidently copied from reality. Montagnana academics have even identified the "station" point of perspective from which the artist portrayed the landscape. The most innovative aspect of the work of this painter does not lie in his ability to quote with absolute precision only visible landscape features that belong to their own personal experience, as in Cima, but the fact that his specific reproduction of real elements of the urbanized landscape turn out to be intimately related to the client, so they might be meaningful only to him. An example of this is the background of the Tempesta (1507, Venice, Gallerie dell'Accademia), where Giorgione proposes a series of walls and square towers already identified as the fortress and tower of Ezzelino in Padua, and whose precise reproduction “constatazione della completa reciproca congruenza paesaggistica e architettonica degli elementi esaminati, ricomposti in una riconoscibile e a suo modo esatta veduta di Padova", allow us to place the Tempesta "in una determinata e cronologicamente precisa temperie culturale" (Guidoni 1995, 7). The recognition of the landscape, as in traditional historiography, is no longer only a derivative of the subject and therefore provides us with a key necessary to understanding one of the most enigmatic Venetian paintings of the 16th century (Dal Pozzolo 2009).

References Carlo G., Villa F. eds. 2010. Cima da Conegliano. Poeta del paesaggio. Venezia: Marsilio. Dal Pozzolo E. M., Puppi L. eds. 2009. Giorgione. Milano: Skira. Frugoni C. 1983. Una lontana città. Sentimenti e immagini nel medioevo. Torino: Einaudi. Guidoni E. 1995. Il luogo della tempesta. Il paesaggio e il significato nel capolavoro di Giorgione. Roma: Edizioni Librerie Dedalo. Heitz C. 1963. Recherches sur les rapports entre Architecture Liturgies et à l'epoque caroligienne. Paris.

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Heitz C. 1979. Retentissement de l'Apocalypse dans l'art de l'epoque carolingienne, in L'Apocalypse de Jean. Traditions exégétiques et iconographiques (III-XIII siècles). Geneva. Mancini F.F. 2007. Pintoricchio. Milano: Silvana Edizioni. Peroni A. 1974. Raffigurazioni e progettazioni di strutture urbane e architettoniche nell’alto medioevo, in Topografia urbana e vita cittadina nell’Alto Medioevo in Occidente, 21° settimana di Studi del Centro Italiano di Studi sull’alto medioevo. Spoleto. Potocnick M. 1993. Conegliano. Città murata. Treviso: Vianello Libri. Puppi L.1982. Verso Gerusalemme: immagini e temi di urbanistica e di architettura simboliche tra il 14 e il 18 Secolo. Roma. Settis S. and Toracca D. eds. 1998. La Libreria Piccolomini nel Duomo di Siena. Modena: F.C. Panini. Zorzi M. 2012. I colori delle fortezze. Il caso veneto, in ROSSI M., SINISCALCO A. eds. Colore e Colorimetria. Contributi Multidisciplinari. Vol. VIII A. Milano: Maggioli.