Green is the color of new life and the color of rebirth. Green is the color of spring and therefore of youth, hope and joy. However, historically, this is one of the most controversial colors. Green is also the color of decay, and often symbolizes jealousy.
The fact that the green color is associated with nature and youth, has been used as a symbol in different historical periods.
Chlorophyll gives plants the green color that has been associated with nature since antiquity. Osiris, originally the Ancient Egyptian god of vegetation, and later of the underworld, was often depicted in mural paintings with green face and body.
Green symbolizes youth because of its association with spring. There are two aspects to this: the positive associations of vigor and strength, counterbalanced by naivety or greenness. [5.]
What has been the role of green in fashion history and when it first became a sign of modernity? When I was writing this story I tried to find it out. And I did it because green is also one of my favorite colors.
The Ancient Color Green
Green costumes were worn already in ancient Mesopotamia as shown by ceramics, but it is not known how the green dyes were produced and what has been symbolic meaning of those vivid green clothes.
Green was the symbol of regeneration and rebirth, and all the living nature. Egyptian artists used finely ground malachite for mural paintings, papyrus and as a substance for cosmetics. They also mixed yellow ochre and blue azurite. Egyptians used dyes made from saffron to color fabrics. After that they soaked them in blue dye from the roots of the woad plant.
The hieroglyph for green in Ancient Egypt was represented by a growing papyrus sprout, showing the close connection between green color and vegetation, vigor, and growth. The ruler of the underworld, Osiris, was depicted in mural paintings with a green face and body, because green was the symbol of good health and rebirth. Palettes of green facial makeup, made with malachite, were found in tombs. Green color in makeup was worn by both the living and the dead. It was especially used around the eyes, to protect them from evil.
It is interesting that in Ancient Greece, green and blue were sometimes considered the same color. There was only one word that sometimes described the color of the sea and the color of trees. Green was not counted among the four classic colors of Greek painting – red, yellow, black and white – and is rarely found in Greek art. It is also unknown whether the Greeks used green in their clothing.
The Romans loved the color green as it was the color of Venus, the goddess of gardens, vegetables, vineyards, beauty and love. Green pigment was widely used in the mural paintings of Pompeii, Herculaneum, and other Roman cities. The green pigment called 'verdigris' that was made by soaking copper plates in fermenting wine was also quite widespread in Ancient Rome. By the second century AD, the Romans were using green in paintings, mosaics and glass, and there were ten different words in Latin for varieties of green.
During the time of Roman emperor Nero, the use of green emeralds in the making of jewelry was a fashion trend. Nero himself was very fond of emeralds. There are many fantastical stories to be found in Pliny the Elder’s Natural History. In book 37, Pliny discussed various precious stones valued by the Romans, particularly that of smaragdus. It is often translated from Greek language as “emerald”. [17.]
The princeps Nero viewed the combats of the gladiators in a smaragdus.
The reason for that was the properties of emerald that jewelers had noticed. The stone was soothing to the eyes of gem cutters.
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My name is Edīte Parute and I am a fashion historian and researcher from Latvia, association member at "The Association of Dress Historians" (UK) and author of the book "Stila un modes enciklopēdija"/"Encyclopedia of Style and Fashion" (2010) as well as author of many publications.