The Dark Past


It's the color of deep waters, cold nights, and the ancient underworlds; the color before the universe was created.

In Feng Shui, black belongs to the element of water. It embodies mystery and sophistication, the color of Yin. It represents the strength of femininity. 

In numerology, it corresponds with the number 13, signifying resurrection.

Black crows

In ancient testaments, black animals are channeled in spiritual practices to acquire deeper associations between the natural world and inner power. The black crow and the raven, for instance, can be seen in numerous religious and cultural texts around the world. In Hinduism, black crows are a carriers of information, while in Ovid's poems, they are the harbingers of rain.

During Egyptian times, black was the color of good luck. The Egyptian god Anibus of the Underworld took the form of a black jackal to offer his protection against evil to those crossing to the other side. The Egyptian goddess Bastet, the cat goddess, goddess of protection, joy, dance, music, and love, is most commonly portrayed as a black cat. The practice of owning a household cat derives from the Egyptian desire to please and curry favor with the cat goddess.

The Scandinavians' goddess of the night, Nott, rode a chariot drawn by black horses across the night skies. It is said that her dark horses "drew the night to the benefits of the gods." The god Odin had two crows, Huginn, the crow of thought, and Munnin, the crow of memory, which flew across the world gathering information to bring back to Odin.

In medieval times, black signified power and secrecy. 

The Black Square,  by Kazimir Malevich. Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.

The Black Square, by Kazimir Malevich. Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.

As a fashion statement, black hit the scene in the 14th century. Nobles began to wear black to signify their importance and seriousness in society.  Artists, in order to portray true facial expression without the competition of bright colors, began painting portraits in which the faces emerged from dark clothing and deep backgrounds.

Puritan's of the 1600s believed that the devil would appear in the form of a black animal at midnight during a ceremony called Black Mass, or Black Sabbath.

During the Industrial Revolution, due to coal and smoke, black became the color of major cities in America and Europe.  In literature, black became the color worn by heroes.  During the Gothic, Victorian, and Romanticism periods of literature and architecture, black took center stage as a plot device, where scenes were often set in dark castles on stormy nights. In many other tales, black became the ensemble of the antagonists.

Chanel's 1926 illustration of her Little Black Dress for Vogue.

In the 20th century, black regained popularity with artists, after taking a backseat in the 19th century. Kazimir Malevich's painting, The Black Square (1915), was credited with being the first true abstract painting, featuring only a black square.

Black also began to gain popularity in high-fashion houses. Coco Chanel's little black dress established a movement in the fashion community. Every major designer contributed to this movement by creating their version of the little black dress.  

Later in the 20th century, black became the color of the rising goth and punk subcultures.

In 2014, there is Velvit, the vault that celebrates black in all forms of art. 

Black is Back.