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No One Could See the Colour blue until modern times!

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posted on Mar, 1 2015 @ 07:43 AM
No one could see the color blue until modern times

As the delightful Radiolab episode "Colors" describes, ancient languages didn't have a word for blue — not Greek, not Chinese, not Japanese, not Hebrew. And without a word for the color, there's evidence that they may not have seen it at all.

How we realized blue was missing
In the Odyssey, Homer famously describes the "wine-dark sea." But why "wine-dark" and not deep blue or green?

In 1858, a scholar named William Gladstone, who later became the Prime Minister of Great Britain, noticed that this wasn't the only strange color description. Though the poet spends page after page describing the intricate details of clothing, armor, weaponry, facial features, animals, and more, his references to color are strange. Iron and sheep are violet, honey is green.

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I wonder if it really is because of a lack of words describe colour the made it harder for us to see blue or could the world of had a more of a blue hue that covered everything in blue that we wouldnt of seen it.

Ancient people and modern bush people can pick out different greens better than the average. In the next 2 pictures the first on shows one square that is actually lighter.

edit on 1-3-2015 by Shadow Herder because: (no reason given)

edit on 1-3-2015 by Shadow Herder because: (no reason given)

+18 more 
posted on Mar, 1 2015 @ 07:52 AM
a reply to: Shadow Herder

Uh?! That cannot be right...

What about the thousands-years old mythology of Visnu, the blue God?

This is rather thought-provoking, S&F!

posted on Mar, 1 2015 @ 08:18 AM
But then we have this:

Blue whales are one of the rorquals, (the blue was initially studied by Scottish naturalist Sir Robert Sibbald in 1694

The question being if it was initially called a blue whale or other?


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posted on Mar, 1 2015 @ 08:28 AM
I was expecting to see a stripey dress when I clicked this.

posted on Mar, 1 2015 @ 08:38 AM
Makes me wonder what year these showed up?

nice info..S&F
edit on 3/1/2015 by DjembeJedi because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 1 2015 @ 08:53 AM
a reply to: Shadow Herder

Makes one wonder what else we don't see due to not having a word for it.

regarding not being able to see the colour blue unttil modern times, it reminds me off a film i recently saw.

The Giver


In this film you will see something simular, were for the first time someone sees the colour red for the first time.


posted on Mar, 1 2015 @ 08:56 AM
>>This is rather thought-provoking, S&F!

Agreed, great post. But the words used to describe the color of Vishnu are typically kṛṣṇa or śyāma. Both of these mean, primarily, "black", eg:

" (H1) kṛṣṇá 1 [p= 306,2] [L=55142] mf(ā́)n. black , dark , dark-blue (opposed to śvetá , śuklá , róhita , and aruṇá) RV. AV. &c

(H1) śyāmá [p= 1094,2] [L=222041] mf(ā)n. (said to be connected with √ śyai) black , dark-coloured , dark blue or brown or grey or green , sable , having a dark or swarthy complexion (considered a mark of beauty) AV. &c "


Note the references to "AV" and "RV", e.g. the Atharva-Veda and Rig-Veda, the oldest available texts of Sanskrit literature.

The point is, there was no word for "blue" originally, but words that were once used to designate "black" (like charcoal, or the demon Vritra, etc.) were later used to designate a color we now (in English) call "blue".

As an aside, note that Tibetans have no words for "purple" or "violet". Not even in reference to the rainbow. That color is, at best, covered by the word "blue" (sngon po). Also, the Tibetan word for "green" is typically ljang-gu, whereas the the color "blue" (as in 'sky blue') is given as sngon , as in "blue-white" (sngo-skya). Nevertheless, when it comes to describing the color of grass or of springtime foliage, the expression lo-sngon (literally, 'leaves-blue') is often used in poetry and literature.

This makes no sense at all, in terms of our sense of color. Spring foliage is if anything yellow-green, much less blue or blue-green.

posted on Mar, 1 2015 @ 09:05 AM
a reply to: Shadow Herder

please define " modern times " to the nearest century

+2 more 
posted on Mar, 1 2015 @ 09:07 AM
According to the Oxford dictionary of Jewish religion: "ḤILLAZON" Conchiferous marine animal, the blue blood of which was used for dying the blue cord of the tsitsit.

Tsitsit: fringes attached to the four corners of garments. Numbers 15.37–41 commands that a blue thread be added to.

So here is a ancient description of not only the color blue, but a label of its color in relation to something we can visually see today as being blue.

Not sure if this will be relevant.


posted on Mar, 1 2015 @ 09:24 AM
I thought it interesting to mention that, both Roman and Greek murals seem to be on the monochromatic side (Not accounting for age and fade of colors.) but in general the use of color is dark and monochrome in shade. Not exclusively monochrome naturally, but decidedly more so that other murals done at or before the same time by other people.

I am not above believing that a particular region of people may have had genetic color blindness for a time. Is this possible?
If so, is there a current group of people who tend to have color blindness more than others?

Color blind by race.

Though, it may go away as people age.

I wonder if a certain diet could actually effect color vision, or perhaps a vitamin deficiency, or too much of a certain mineral.

All very interesting.
edit on 1-3-2015 by snowen20 because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 1 2015 @ 09:52 AM
Yes and while I don't know how ancient this guy is referring to the predominant color of the Sistine chapel is vivid blue. a reply to: swanne

posted on Mar, 1 2015 @ 09:58 AM
Color names change . When I was a kid we had maroon now it's wine or burgundy. Puce and scarlet are now merely reds. Dark purple is eggplant. Chartreuse is green. Mauve, Dusty rose. I think it's language rather than not seeing the dominant color of the planet.
edit on 312015 by AutumnWitch657 because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 1 2015 @ 10:04 AM
This page of ancient Egyptian paintings shows a use of blue though most colors were derivatives of henna shades which was cultivated to produce paints. 3333334&bih=800&dpr=1.5

posted on Mar, 1 2015 @ 10:08 AM
This page shows Greek and Roman art with a wide variety of color. 34&bih=800&dpr=1.5

I think the OP is just a stupid theory. The art simply doesn't bear out the premise.

a reply to: snowen20

posted on Mar, 1 2015 @ 10:11 AM
How very Anglo-centric a view this is actually. SO, if there is no word for something in the Anglo (i.e. English) dialect, then it does not exist. Pshhaaaw...Humans could always see the color, however, they likely used other (non-English) words or phrases for it. I personally can think of many just off the top of my head that people around the globe (let alone in a confined area) would know (if they spoke English, which is my only language):

  • clear daytime sky
  • glacier
  • warm ocean

I'm sure there are many others.

posted on Mar, 1 2015 @ 10:15 AM
a reply to: AutumnWitch657

I wonder if just maybe our ancestors lacked a mutation to see blue.

Science states we all preceive colors diffrently and agree to call it what everyone calls it, orange being orange but if I had your eyes it would look purple to me.

Blue eyes are a recent mutation of less than 12000 years.
edit on 1-3-2015 by Shadow Herder because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 1 2015 @ 11:01 AM
As an artist, I love colour and have studied it in various contexts.

The ancient Egyptians were very aware of the colour blue and used it often in their ceramics such as blue Faience.

The colour blue has been used throughout known history though less than other colours due to their availability, as a pigment it was expensive and often held in very high regard. Colours such as Ultramarine made from ground lapis lazuli were revolutionary and brought by Venetian traders from Arabs in Afghanistan about 1000 years ago, it revolutionised art.

Egyptian blue, also known as calcium copper silicate (CaCuSi4O10 or CaOCuO(SiO2)4) or cuprorivaite, is a pigment used in Ancient Egypt for thousands of years. It is considered to be the first synthetic pigment. The pigment was known to the Romans by the name caeruleum. After the Roman era, Egyptian blue fell from use and the manner of its creation was forgotten.

The ancient Egyptian word wedjet signifies blue, blue-green, and green.

We use color to describe emotions. In ancient Egypt, color ( jwn) (Faulkner 1991: 13) was an integral part of the substance and being of everything in life. The Egyptian hieroglyph for color can also be translated as "being","character", "disposition", "nature" or "external appearance".

This clearly illustrates the significance of color as being an essential and integral part of the Egyptian worldview (Rankine 2006). In art, colors were clues to the nature of the beings depicted in the work. The Egyptian use of color in their art was largely symbolic. For example, when the god Amon was portrayed with blue skin, it alluded to his cosmic aspect (Dolińska 1990: 3-7).

I recommend watching these series on colour, this series covers the colour blue from around 3.50.

edit on 1-3-2015 by theabsolutetruth because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 1 2015 @ 11:12 AM
maybe the ancient people used the word 'sky' to include the meaning of the color 'blue'...

hence language like sky mountains...or sky goddess meaning color/hue rather than domain...what about anything termed a 'sky' or 'dome' or 'canopy' thing, meaning a shade of blue as the underlying meaning

perhaps even things 'watery' might have been a meaning of color blue... might water buffalo have meant a blue haired beast in a long ago past when volcanic ash was more ubiquitous


theabsolutetruth * 4 U
edit on st31142523020801162015 by St Udio because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 1 2015 @ 11:21 AM
The Hebrew had a word for blue . Tekhelet

posted on Mar, 1 2015 @ 11:23 AM
The division of the spectrum into seven named colors was made in modern times by none other than Sir Isaac Newton in imitation of the Western musical octave. Prior to that systemization, different cultures divided the spectrum up in equally arbitrary ways. The, which is now considered to be the name of a color itself, was always described as "red" in "Indo-European" cultures as diverse geographically as Sanskritic India and Viking Iceland. A reply to: Shadow Herder

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