The Meaning and Symbolism of the Color Black

The color black has a deep and powerful meaning that evokes strong emotions. It is associated with death, misfortune, evil spirits, and darkness. Despite its negative connotations, black is also associated with strength, authority, power, and intelligence. It is a color that results from the absence or complete absorption of visible light and is often used symbolically or figuratively to represent darkness.

In the Bible, black is associated with the devil, darkness, suffering, passing, mourning, hunger and the judgment of sin. In Finland, black is the symbolic color for both armored troops and combat engineers. In martial arts, a black belt is more likely to mean that a person has become proficient in basic techniques and principles. Black is also used to promote technological products and services, expensive or even rebellious items.

Black represents evil, darkness, night and despair but it can also be used to convey certainty and authority. It symbolizes prestige, formality and importance. The color black has a profound effect on the psyche and has been used to describe opposites such as good and evil, the Middle Ages versus the Age of Enlightenment, and night versus day. Since the Middle Ages, black has been the symbolic color of solemnity and authority.

Kazimir Malevich's Black Square (1915) is considered the first purely abstract painting (Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow). Saint Bernard of Clairaval replied that black was the color of the devil, hell, death and sin while white represented purity, innocence and all virtues. King Edward VII of Great Britain began the tradition of wearing a white shirt with a black jacket and pants for special events and celebrations. The Black Knight in a miniature painting of a medieval romance Le Livre du cœur d'amour épris (circa 1460) is an example of how black attire can be appropriate at parties and festivities. The correct use of black when it comes to furniture or dressings creates an impressive effect.

Because of its contrast and clarity, black ink on white paper remained the standard for printing books, newspapers and documents; and for the same reason, black text on a white background is the most used format on computer screens. Almost universally blue symbolizes control and calm while red symbolizes passion and power but the meaning of black varies depending on the situation. For example, the Wall Street crash of 1929 is nicknamed Black Tuesday and was preceded by Black Thursday. The process of dying became easier but black cloth was still costly to make so only people with power and money could buy black clothes. One of the important synthetic blacks is nigrosine which is a mixture of synthetic black dyes made by heating a mixture of nitrobenzene, aniline and aniline hydrochloride in the presence of a copper or iron catalyst. In conclusion, black has many meanings depending on its context. It can evoke strong emotions such as fear or sadness but it can also be used to convey authority or power.

It has been used throughout history to represent opposites such as good versus evil or day versus night.