Black – The Queen of Colours

“I’ve been 40 years discovering that the queen of all colours was black.” 
Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Black Contrast

Black is the colour of night, of ebony and outer space.  Its power to envelop our world gives it a secretive, mysterious and enigmatic appeal.  Technically speaking, however it is not considered a colour at all; rather, it is the absence of or complete absorption of light.   Black achieved massive iconic appeal over the centuries and has come to symbolize night, sobriety, denial, authority, perfection and purity, wisdom and maturity.

Black was one of the first colours used by Neolithic artists on their cave drawings, a tradition carried on, but refined,  by the ancient Greeks.  Egyptians connected the colour black with the fertile black soil of the Nile Valley and their potent god of the underworld, Anubis, who took the form of a black jackal. Nótt, the goddess of the night for German and Scandinavian peoples, traversed the sky in a chariot drawn by a black horse.

Creating the colour black brought out the creative talents of our ancestors. Romans produced “Vine black” by burning cut branches of grapevines; they also burned and dried crushed grapes. On the other side of the world, the Polynesians burned coconuts to achieve the same results.  Soot collected from oil lamps produced what was appropriately named “Lamp black.”  Then there was “Ivory black” that was a concoction of charcoal power, oil and ivory.  “Mars black” was named for the god of war and patron of iron because of its content of synthetic iron oxides.

Black stands apart from the spectrum of the rainbow.  It serves as the contrast that enhances the beauty of all the other colours in nature. Perhaps that is why we are drawn to it singleness of purpose, its implacable statement of solidarity.

“I wore black because I liked it. I still do, and wearing it still means something to me. It’s still my symbol of rebellion — against a stagnant status quo, against our hypocritical houses of God, against people whose minds are closed to others’ ideas.” 

Johnny Cash, The Man in Black



Published by Rebecca Budd

Blogger, Visual Storyteller, Podcaster, Traveler and Life-long Learner

23 thoughts on “Black – The Queen of Colours

  1. First of all black is a colour of mourning in my cultural circle. Naturally I know, that a problem of color of deepest mourning, in historical and contemtporary customs, is a subject of a new big post!


    1. You are so right, my friend. Black has deep roots in mourning and would take several posts. Black gives respect and profound reverence for those who we had the privilege of walking side by side on our personal timeline. Even as I write these comments I think of my dear father who passed away just over a year ago. We are blessed with special people who support, encourage and believe in our vision and mission. I came to blogging because one of my father’s last wish was that I write, something that was completely different than my chosen career path. To me, black signifies continuing after we lose those we love, remembering their contributions with love and hope… Thank you for your thoughts – much appreciated.


      1. He lived life fully in the moment and he is remembered with great joy in our hearts.

        “Let my thoughts come to you, when I am gone, like the afterglow of sunset at the margin of starry silence.”
        ― Rabindranath Tagore, Stray Birds


    1. Me too! I like the idea of being a “fan” – a great analogy. 🙂

      “Think of what starlight
      And lamplight would lack
      Diamonds and fireflies
      If they couldn’t lean against Black. . . .”
      ― Mary MacNeil


  2. Well, Clanmother, I have my black period behind my. 🙂
    In my teens we all used to wear black, it was quite easy getting dressed and ready. 🙂 Today I think the combination of white and black is sober and elegant, thinking about the classic way like Coco Chanel. –>

    She said “Women think of all colors except the absence of color. I have said that black has it all. White too. Their beauty is absolute. It is the perfect harmony.”
    Have a lovely day. Big hug!


    1. A marvelous quote! I will be using that in a future post – it is worth repeating and repeating again. I love the black and white combination. Reminds me of elegant dinners….


  3. I always feel good when wearing black, and it does seem to be a very popular colour especially with the young people these days. Thanks for the interesting information about this wonderful colour, Rebecca.


    1. Ah, but we understand the elegance of wearing black. There is something about maturity – it gives a profound sense of simplicity within a complex world. I love the dynamic duo of black and white because it gives me a sense of reality in a world that has so many shades of grey! Besides, it has a remarkable slimming affect. 🙂 the young people will soon figure that out in a few more years…. 🙂 🙂 🙂


  4. …and that’s why shadows are so important in photography (and art). Black provides definition and helps focus the eye. It also makes us look slimmer!!


    1. Ah! The best part of black is the slimming effect! About thirty years ago there was a fad called “draping.” I was curious so signed up for a session. I sat in a chair with a mirror in front of me. Then two people would start to “drape” cloth of different colors over my shoulders to see which would compliment my skin and hair colour. Then I would be placed in a season, which in my case was autumn (no surprise). I could justify the expense of the session UNTIL they did the unthinkable. They told me that I could not wear black. Only people who were considered “winters” were allowed to wear black. And that was when I realized why fads come and go…. 🙂


  5. Hello Rebecca.

    Just a brilliant post, I love the idea that black enhances colour, I also remember the floor in our school hall, had black and white tiles and if you looked down from the walk way above the patterns in the white tiles was amazing, because of the black .

    Black also does something amazing which I still don’t full understand, It soaks up light as well as not reflecting it.

    I remember us doing an experiment in my photography course, if you have an object under even lighting (i.e. a light on each side), say a white box, then measure the light each side with a light meter, it will read the same each side.

    Place a black card on one side of the box, so that it is not in the way of the lights or casting any shadow onto the white box. Do your light reading again and one side (the side with the black card!) will be darker by about one camera lens stop. Hum!!! The black is socking up the light without getting in the way of the light at all – I still cannot get my head around it.

    Black Magic, 🙂


    1. Thank you for adding so much to this discussion! I NEVER would have thought that black would soak up the light. That is truly amazing!!!


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