Black the integral part of life. Black the colour of coal, ebony and the unknown. The darkest colour this could be either due to the absence of light or due to total absorption of light. So much so we have a saying in Kannada that says,”yella banna masi nungitu” that translates to the colour of the coal swallows all other colours.
black was one of the earliest colours used, the etchings on the cave, the kajal in the eye, the 14th century saw black being worn by royalty, clergy, judges and government absorption of all hues of life to present one colour the colour I like to call as the colour of equanimity. 19th century it evolved to the colour of romantic poets, business men and statesmen. In the 20th black has emerged as the epitome of classy fashion.
The natyashastra uses black to depict Krura, or harshness, the reigning Lord being Yama the god of death. Isn’t interesting we do not know what is beyond death, that makes it Krishna or dark, and we worship Krishna the as the God of Romance, is it because somewhere within us we do romanticize death and even the dark pockets of our psyche?
The Chinese culture associates black with water one of the fundamental elements that is a component of all things, it is also associated with winter, cold and the direction north symbolized by a black tortoise. The colour of Chaos and disorder even positive disorder that leads to change and new life.
The Chinese and Japanese character for black can mean dark or evil depending on the context as the word Krishna does in the Indian culture.
The Japanese associate black with mystery, the night, the unknown the supernatural, the invisible and death. We call this concept Krishna in our philosophy. When combined with white it symbolizes intuition. Though between 10th -11th century Japanese did believe that wearing black could bring misfortune, it was worn in the court when people wanted to be set apart from established power centres, or it was also worn by people who renounced material possessions.
The Indonesian associate black with depth, subterranean world, demons, disaster and the left hand. But in combination with white it symbolizes harmony and equilibrium.
The colour black…
Think of what starlight
and lamplight would lack
Diamonds and fireflies
if they couldn’t lean against Black. . . .”
― Mary O’Neill, Hailstones and Halibut Bones
The 5 black items I would wish for… and why….
A Black Tablet that would set me free from a cumbersome laptop. I would reveal in the freedom to blog, click pictures, listen to music or even read a book. Maybe occasional whatsapp mom.
A Black Telephone with turn dial like we had it in the eight’s, for sheer nostalgic purpose. Somehow the black contraption in the movies looked so exotic to my teenage eyes. My visual of a classy woman, was a woman draped in a black sari, wearing oxidized silver jewellery a black stiletto, sitting cross legged, hair open, and speaking on the phone. Unfortunately for me the word slender seem to elude.
My Black Tresses that are turning grey, to me I have believed that naturally curly hair like mine was a curse, and I would never let anyone tell me different. You will believe me when I say that some of the worst mistakes in my life were haircuts. I need to apologize for those lovely black tresses. But I guess until then I have to be satisfied that gray hair is god’s graffiti.
A Black Silk Sari, that always makes me feel elegant, Sari per say makes feel good and beautiful and black always brings out a hue in my skin that the Sanskrit poets call “Shyama varna” or alluring duskiness, it makes me forget that about 20kgs. Over weight.
The Romantic Black Knight who would ride from nowhere and whisk me away to nowhere the land of no-laundry, no dirty linen, no dishes to do or meals to cook and serve.
The most important black, that invoke in my life is the presence the lord Neelamegha shyama, like the dark clouds that bear water, the presence of the divine lord. He who appears black because all colours are assimilated within him. He who is Krishna the dark, the unknown yet one does not need to fear him. With faith in him I would walk through the dark night facing the floods of the river Yamuna knowing I will reach Brindavan.