Despite the negative connotations of the colour black since ancient times (and even today), the multiple facets of it in various cultures makes this one of the most interesting colours in the colour wheel. It is interesting to note that black is not treated as an ordinary colour by different cultures and even different people within same culture. Usually it is assigned deeper meaning than other colours. For example, some may see it as a colour of mourning, hence for them it is associated with sadness. Others see it as a colour of mystery. Think dark sunglasses, cars with tinted windows, mysterious stranger on black horse and black cats! Some believe it can enhance sexual attractiveness; many women prefer black lingerie. And yet there are some others who wear black as a sign of rebellion.
Black is the darkest colour, the result of the absence of or complete absorption of light. It is the opposite of white, but both represent the absence of colour. It is required for all other colours to have depth and variation of hue. It is a mysterious colour that is typically associated with the unknown or the negative. The colour black represents strength, seriousness, power, and authority. Black is a formal, elegant (as in ‘the little black dress’, or ‘the black tie event’), sophisticated, and prestigious colour. Authoritative and powerful, this colour can evoke strong emotions and too much black can be overwhelming.
People do picture black as negativity, sorrow, darkness and malevolence. For the ancient Greeks, black the colour of the underworld – Tartarus, separated from the world of the living by the river Acheron, whose water was black; in Medieval paintings, the devil was usually depicted as having human form, but with wings and black skin or hair; the Roman Empire first introduced it as the colour of mourning, and over the centuries it was frequently associated with death, evil, witches and magic.
However, every darkness has its light! The ancient Egyptians had very positive associations of the colour black. It was the colour of the rich black soil flooded by the Nile. It was also the colour of Anubis, the god of the underworld, who took the form of a black jackal, and offered protection against evil to the dead. It was one of the first colours used in art, for example Neolithic cave paintings, Greek pottery, and eventually in writing. Black inks that were invented in Ancient China and India, was traditionally used in the Middle Ages for writing, for the simple reason that black was the darkest colour and therefore provided the greatest contrast with white paper or parchment, making it the easiest colour to read. It became even more important in the 15th century, with the invention of printing.
Throughout the ages people have always preferred donning bright-hued clothing, it was equally as popular during times such as the 14th and the 18th century when high-quality black dyes began to arrive on the market, allowing garments of a deep, rich black. Even recently fashionistas adore the simplicity of black. There are people who rather want to emphasize the cut of the garment than its colour. Some people will wear black tight clothes to show off their fit body as black makes you instantly slimmer, according to popular belief. One of the most famous black dresses of the century was designed by Hubert de Givenchy and was worn by Audrey Hepburn in the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Black also marks its impact in the pages of history. While black was the colour worn by the Catholic rules of Europe, it was also the emblematic colour of the Protestant Reformation in Europe and the Puritans in England and America. Jean Calvin, Melanchton and other Protestant theologians denounced the richly coloured and decorated interiors of Roman Catholic churches. They saw the colour red, worn by the Pope and his Cardinals, as the colour of luxury, sin, and human folly. In the 1950s, black came to be a symbol of individuality and intellectual and social rebellion, the colour of those who didn’t accept established norms and values. The American Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s was a struggle for the political equality of African Americans. It developed into the Black Power movement in the late 1960s and 1970s, and popularized the slogan “Black is Beautiful”. In the 20th century, black was the colour of Italian and German fascism.
The colour black can represent both the positive and the negative. As the opposite of white, movies, books, print media, and television typically depict the good guy in white and the bad guy in black. In more recent times, the good guy is shown in black to create mystery around the character’s identity.
In colour psychology this colour gives protection from external emotional stress. It creates a barrier between itself and the outside world, providing comfort while protecting its emotions and feelings, and hiding its vulnerabilities, insecurities and lack of self-confidence. What black covers, white uncovers… We all use black at various times to hide from the world around us in one way or another. Some of us use it to hide our weight; others among us use it to hide our feelings, our fears or our insecurities. It also means power and control, hanging on to information and things rather than giving out to others.
Furthermore, a preference towards black, commonly among teenagers, often relates to a struggle to find their identities as they transition into adulthood, or simply as part of either gothic, grunge, punk, rock or ‘emo’ styles. Black is intimidating, unfriendly and unapproachable because of the power it exudes. It can prevent two-way communication because of its intimidation. The salesman wearing all black will make a lot of sales, but no friends! It radiates authority, but creates fear in the process.
Black implies self-control and discipline, independence and a strong will, and giving an impression of authority and power. Black absorbs negative energy. It is useful to carry something black with you to protect you from harm and negativity when traveling or when going about your usual daily activities outside your home. People who like black may be conventional, conservative and serious, or they may think of themselves as being sophisticated or very dignified. Black is the end, but the end always implies a new beginning. When the light appears, black becomes white, the colour of new beginnings. However, too much black can cause depression and mood swings and create a negative environment. Combined with white only, it can create an argumentative atmosphere.
If black’s your favourite colour, you’re most probably:
- Part moody, part sophisticated
- Independent, strong-willed, determined and like to be in control of yourself and situations
- Emotionally contained
- Methodical and meticulous in your work
- Conservative and conventional
- Mysterious and intriguing
- Someone who finds power and prestige important
The deepest need of a Personality Colour Black is:
• to have power and control in order to protect your emotional insecurities