30 January 2015

It was all Yellow

Throughout history yellow has had various connotations; specifically playing an important role in Asian culture. In China yellow is the colour of happiness, glory, and wisdom and is considered to be the most beautiful and prestigious colour. Yellow was often used in the robes and attire of the emperors along with decoration on royal palaces. Yellow is also used in Buddhism as the colour of Monks’ garments and appears heavily on temples. Within geography there are five directions of the Chinese compass; north, south, east, west, and the middle. Yellow signifies the middle, or Middle Kingdom, which is considered to be in the exact centre of the world.

However, yellow has not always had such positive connotations in the West, it can be seen as the colour of ambivalence and jealousy. Yellow is also symbolic in America of cowardice, as opposed to the Chinese association of the colour with heroism. This is believed to be due to the Middle Ages and Renaissance periods where yellow was established as the colour of clothes worn by Judas Iscariot; the disciple who betrayed Christ. This connection branded yellow with connotations of envy and  jealousy.

Yellow is a colour more commonly associated with gold, taken from the Latin word ‘arum’ which translates as ‘yellow’. In Ancient Egypt, yellow/gold was considered to be what the skin and bones of the gods were made of, as it was perceived as imperishable and indestructible. The Egyptians used yellow extensively in tomb paintings using either yellow ochre or the highly toxic brilliant orpiment made from arsenic, also found in a small paint box within the tomb of King Tutankhamen. The earliest traces of yellow made from yellow ochre pigment in clay has been found in prehistoric stone art in the cave of Lascaux, France estimated to be 17,300 years old.

There are a wide range of yellow gems and stones which can be found in many items at Grays such as Amber, yellow sapphire, yellow jade and yellow diamond.

French 18ct gold flower earrings, offered by DB Gems

Citrine Heart Ring by Repossi, offered by DB Gems

18th Century lemon yellow enamelled curiosity bon bon box, offered by Michael Longmore

19th Century High quality cut glass Bohemian goblet with cover, offered by Mousa Antiques

Art Deco Egyptian Revival necklace, offered by MGN Collectables

Brocade Chinese vintage jacket, offered by Vintage Modes

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