The enigmatic blue color

It is a color that seems to predominate on our planet. Skies and oceans share it. Why, in many ancient languages, was blue non-existent? The enigmatic color blue is an interesting unknown.

Blue is a primary color, and a favorite among millions of people. But apparently, to the human eye, it wasn’t always there. William Ewart Gladstone was British prime minister four times. He discovered, thanks to his fondness for the works of Homer, that in The Iliad y The Odyssey the Greek author never refers to blue. He does with red, black or white. In fact, when he had to describe the sea, he referred to it as “dark-wine”.

The enigmatic color blue does not exist in many ancient languages.
The enigmatic color blue does not exist in many ancient languages.

Indecipherable color

Years later, Lazarus Geiger, a German philosopher and philologist, took his research to several ancient languages. He reviewed Icelandic, Hebrew, Chinese, Arabic and Hindu texts. None of them referred to this color. Many studies sought to unravel the mystery of the enigmatic blue color, as the evidence that it was not perceived by the ancient world was increasing. One of them focused on a tribe in Namibia.

The paper was published in 2006, having Jules Davidoff as lead author. He is a psychologist at Goldsmiths University, London. The subjects tested in the research had to distinguish, among eleven green squares and one blue one, the one that was different. They were unable to do so. By changing it to a different shade of green, the tribe members were able to immediately identify the one that was out of tune with the rest.

In flowers there is very little presence of this color.
In flowers there is very little presence of this color.

Egyptian blue

The first civilization to have a word for the color blue was Egyptian. It was there that blue dyes began to be produced. Apparently, the consciousness for this color spread with them to the present day. Although blue seems to dominate the sky and the sea, the truth is that other manifestations of nature give little evidence of this color. It is enough to pay attention to the environment to discover that blue has little participation in other areas.

The vast majority of animals cannot retain the pigments of blue. They lack cells that reflect that shade of light. Something similar happens in plants. Blue flowers are produced in less than 10% of all known species.

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