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Evarts, A.B. (1919). Color Symbolism. Psychoanal. Rev., 6(2):124-157.

(1919). Psychoanalytic Review, 6(2):124-157

Color Symbolism

Arrah B. Evarts, M.D.

“Every passion and affection of the mind has its appropriate tint; and coloring, if properly adapted, lends its aid, with powerful effect, in the just discrimination and forcible expression of them; it heightens joy, warms love, inflames anger, deepens sadness, and adds coldness to the cheek of death itself.”—Opie.

Nature is wonderfully rich in colors. From the beginning of life of mankind, the blue sky has smiled above him; the earth at his feet has decked herself every spring afresh in living green; the summer has brought the yellow of ripened harvests; and winter has covered everything with a charitable mantle of white: everywhere are the brilliant hues of flowers and the bright plumage of birds. So rich and so varied a panorama spread for his enlightenment and his pleasure could scarce have failed to make a deep impression. His only method of expressing his wonder was through his daily life: hence we may expect to find an early use of color in the customs of daily living and in the beginnings of religious practices. This has become through the ages a fairly well marked and deeply rooted symbolism of color which is well recognized by some, especially the painters, the architects and the ecclesiastics, but is unconscious for the most of us. We all love color. There is no other word to express it. For all, at the same time, there are some colors which are disagreeable or even intensely painful. Yet the presence of color is so universal, and it is so impossible to grasp the thought of a world without color, that we find ourselves taking it all for granted, as children do their mother's love. Yet our very language betrays us. We speak in pity of one who leads a dull, gray life. We sit in a brown study and see red when we are angry. We are blue, or we may look at the world through rose tinted glasses. Our enemy looks blackly at us. The memory of those who have gone before remains green. We tell white lies, and say that the facts in a certain case have been colored to suit someone's preconceived notions.

Colors have become to us symbols; symbols of well nigh every emotion and aspiration.

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