Black – Wikipedia

Black Color coordinatesHex triplet#000000sRGBB(r,g,b)(0, 0, 0)CMYKH (c, m, y, k)(0, 0, 0, 100)HSV (h, s, v)(, %, 0%)SourceBy definitionB: Normalized to [0255] (byte)H: Normalized to [0100] (hundred)

Black is the darkest color, the result of the absence or complete absorption of visible light. It is an achromatic color, literally a color without hue, like white (its opposite) and gray.[1] It is often used symbolically or figuratively to represent darkness, while white represents light.

Black ink is the most common color used for printing books, newspapers and documents, because it has the highest contrast with white paper and is the easiest to read. For the same reason, black text on a white screen is the most common format used on computer screens.[3] In color printing it is used along with the subtractive primaries cyan, yellow, and magenta, in order to help produce the darkest shades.

Black and white have often been used to describe opposites; particularly truth and ignorance, good and evil, the “Dark Ages” versus Age of Enlightenment. Since the Middle Ages black has been the symbolic color of solemnity and authority, and for this reason is still commonly worn by judges and magistrates.

Black was one of the first colors used by artists in neolithic cave paintings. In the 14th century, it began to be worn by royalty, the clergy, judges and government officials in much of Europe. It became the color worn by English romantic poets, businessmen and statesmen in the 19th century, and a high fashion color in the 20th century.

In the Roman Empire, it became the color of mourning, and over the centuries it was frequently associated with death, evil, witches and magic. According to surveys in Europe and North America, it is the color most commonly associated with mourning, the end, secrets, magic, force, violence, evil, and elegance.[4]

The word black comes from Old English blc (“black, dark”, also, “ink”), from Proto-Germanic *blakkaz (“burned”), from Proto-Indo-European *bhleg- (“to burn, gleam, shine, flash”), from base *bhel- (“to shine”), related to Old Saxon blak (“ink”), Old High German blach (“black”), Old Norse blakkr (“dark”), Dutch blaken (“to burn”), and Swedish blck (“ink”). More distant cognates include Latin flagrare (“to blaze, glow, burn”), and Ancient Greek phlegein (“to burn, scorch”).

The Ancient Greeks sometimes used the same word to name different colors, if they had the same intensity. Kuanos’ could mean both dark blue and black.[5]

The Ancient Romans had two words for black: ater was a flat, dull black, while niger was a brilliant, saturated black. Ater has vanished from the vocabulary, but niger was the source of the country name Nigeria[6] the English word Negro and the word for “black” in most modern Romance languages (French: noir; Spanish and Portuguese: negro; Italian: nero ).

Old High German also had two words for black: swartz for dull black and blach for a luminous black. These are parallelled in Middle English by the terms swart for dull black and blaek for luminous black. Swart still survives as the word swarthy, while blaek became the modern English black.[5]

In heraldry, the word used for the black color is sable,[7] named for the black fur of the sable, an animal.

Black was one of the first colors used in art. The Lascaux Cave in France contains drawings of bulls and other animals drawn by paleolithic artists between 18,000 and 17,000 years ago. They began by using charcoal, and then made more vivid black pigments by burning bones or grinding a powder of manganese oxide.[5]

For the ancient Egyptians, black had positive associations; being the color of fertility and the rich black soil flooded by the Nile. It was the color of Anubis, the god of the underworld, who took the form of a black jackal, and offered protection against evil to the dead.

For the ancient Greeks, black was also the color of the underworld, separated from the world of the living by the river Acheron, whose water was black. Those who had committed the worst sins were sent to Tartarus, the deepest and darkest level. In the center was the palace of Hades, the king of the underworld, where he was seated upon a black ebony throne.

Black was one of the most important colors used by ancient Greek artists. In the 6th century BC, they began making black-figure pottery and later red figure pottery, using a highly original technique. In black-figure pottery, the artist would paint figures with a glossy clay slip on a red clay pot. When the pot was fired, the figures painted with the slip would turn black, against a red background. Later they reversed the process, painting the spaces between the figures with slip. This created magnificent red figures against a glossy black background.[8]

In the social hierarchy of ancient Rome, purple was the color reserved for the Emperor; red was the color worn by soldiers (red cloaks for the officers, red tunics for the soldiers); white the color worn by the priests, and black was worn by craftsmen and artisans. The black they wore was not deep and rich; the vegetable dyes used to make black were not solid or lasting, so the blacks often turned out faded gray or brown.[citation needed]

In Latin, the word for black, ater and to darken, atere, were associated with cruelty, brutality and evil. They were the root of the English words “atrocious” and “atrocity”.[9]

Black was also the Roman color of death and mourning. In the 2nd century BC Roman magistrates began to wear a dark toga, called a toga pulla, to funeral ceremonies. Later, under the Empire, the family of the deceased also wore dark colors for a long period; then, after a banquet to mark the end of mourning, exchanged the black for a white toga. In Roman poetry, death was called the hora nigra, the black hour.[5]

The German and Scandinavian peoples worshipped their own goddess of the night, Ntt, who crossed the sky in a chariot drawn by a black horse. They also feared Hel, the goddess of the kingdom of the dead, whose skin was black on one side and red on the other. They also held sacred the raven. They believed that Odin, the king of the Nordic pantheon, had two black ravens, Huginn and Muninn, who served as his agents, traveling the world for him, watching and listening.[10]

In the early Middle Ages, black was commonly associated with darkness and evil. In Medieval paintings, the devil was usually depicted as having human form, but with wings and black skin or hair.[11]

In fashion, black did not have the prestige of red, the color of the nobility. It was worn by Benedictine monks as a sign of humility and penitence. In the 12th century a famous theological dispute broke out between the Cistercian monks, who wore white, and the Benedictines, who wore black. A Benedictine abbot, Pierre the Venerable, accused the Cistercians of excessive pride in wearing white instead of black. Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, the founder of the Cistercians responded that black was the color of the devil, hell, “of death and sin,” while white represented “purity, innocence and all the virtues”.[12]

Black symbolized both power and secrecy in the medieval world. The emblem of the Holy Roman Empire of Germany was a black eagle. The black knight in the poetry of the Middle Ages was an enigmatic figure, hiding his identity, usually wrapped in secrecy.[13]

Black ink, invented in Ancient China and India, was traditionally used in the Middle Ages for writing, for the simple reason that black was the darkest color and therefore provided the greatest contrast with white paper or parchment, making it the easiest color to read. It became even more important in the 15th century, with the invention of printing. A new kind of ink, printer’s ink, was created out of soot, turpentine and walnut oil. The new ink made it possible to spread ideas to a mass audience through printed books, and to popularize art through black and white engravings and prints. Because of its contrast and clarity, black ink on white paper continued to be the standard for printing books, newspapers and documents; and for the same reason black text on a white background is the most common format used on computer screens.[14]

The 15th-century painting of the Last Judgement by Fra Angelico (13951455) depicted hell with a vivid black devil devouring sinners.

The black knight in a miniature painting of a medieval romance,Le Livre du cur d’amour pris (about 1460)

Gutenberg Bible (14511452). Black ink was used for printing books, because it provided the greatest contrast with the white paper and was the clearest and easiest color to read.

In the early Middle Ages, princes, nobles and the wealthy usually wore bright colors, particularly scarlet cloaks from Italy. Black was rarely part of the wardrobe of a noble family. The one exception was the fur of the sable. This glossy black fur, from an animal of the marten family, was the finest and most expensive fur in Europe. It was imported from Russia and Poland and used to trim the robes and gowns of royalty.

In the 14th century, the status of black began to change. First, high-quality black dyes began to arrive on the market, allowing garments of a deep, rich black. Magistrates and government officials began to wear black robes, as a sign of the importance and seriousness of their positions. A third reason was the passage of sumptuary laws in some parts of Europe which prohibited the wearing of costly clothes and certain colors by anyone except members of the nobility. The famous bright scarlet cloaks from Venice and the peacock blue fabrics from Florence were restricted to the nobility. The wealthy bankers and merchants of northern Italy responded by changing to black robes and gowns, made with the most expensive fabrics.[15]

The change to the more austere but elegant black was quickly picked up by the kings and nobility. It began in northern Italy, where the Duke of Milan and the Count of Savoy and the rulers of Mantua, Ferrara, Rimini and Urbino began to dress in black. It then spread to France, led by Louis I, Duke of Orleans, younger brother of King Charles VI of France. It moved to England at the end of the reign of King Richard II (13771399), where all the court began to wear black. In 141920, black became the color of the powerful Duke of Burgundy, Philip the Good. It moved to Spain, where it became the color of the Spanish Habsburgs, of Charles V and of his son, Philip II of Spain (15271598). European rulers saw it as the color of power, dignity, humility and temperance. By the end of the 16th century, it was the color worn by almost all the monarchs of Europe and their courts.[16]

While black was the color worn by the Catholic rulers of Europe, it was also the emblematic color of the Protestant Reformation in Europe and the Puritans in England and America. Jean Calvin, Melanchton and other Protestant theologians denounced the richly colored and decorated interiors of Roman Catholic churches. They saw the color red, worn by the Pope and his Cardinals, as the color of luxury, sin, and human folly.[17] In some northern European cities, mobs attacked churches and cathedrals, smashed the stained glass windows and defaced the statues and decoration. In Protestant doctrine, clothing was required to be sober, simple and discreet. Bright colors were banished and replaced by blacks, browns and grays; women and children were recommended to wear white.[18]

In the Protestant Netherlands, Rembrandt Van Rijn used this sober new palette of blacks and browns to create portraits whose faces emerged from the shadows expressing the deepest human emotions. The Catholic painters of the Counter-Reformation, like Rubens, went in the opposite direction; they filled their paintings with bright and rich colors. The new Baroque churches of the Counter-Reformation were usually shining white inside and filled with statues, frescoes, marble, gold and colorful paintings, to appeal to the public. But European Catholics of all classes, like Protestants, eventually adopted a sober wardrobe that was mostly black, brown and gray.[19]

Swiss theologian John Calvin denounced the bright colors worn by Roman Catholic priests, and colorful decoration of churches.

American Pilgrims in New England going to church (painting by George Henry Boughton, 1867)

In the second part of the 17th century, Europe and America experienced an epidemic of fear of witchcraft. People widely believed that the devil appeared at midnight in a ceremony called a black mass or black sabbath, usually in the form of a black animal, often a goat, a dog, a wolf, a bear, a deer or a rooster, accompanied by their familiar spirits, black cats, serpents and other black creatures. This was the origin of the widespread superstition about black cats and other black animals. In Medieval Flanders, in a ceremony called Kattenstoet, black cats were thrown from the belfry of the Cloth Hall of Ypres to ward off witchcraft.[20]

Witch trials were common in both Europe and America during this period. During the notorious Salem witch trials in New England in 169293, one of those on trial was accused of being able turn into a “black thing with a blue cap,” and others of having familiars in the form of a black dog, a black cat and a black bird.[21] Nineteen women and men were hanged as witches.[22]

In the 18th century, during the European Age of Enlightenment, black receded as a fashion color. Paris became the fashion capital, and pastels, blues, greens, yellow and white became the colors of the nobility and upper classes. But after the French Revolution, black again became the dominant color.

Black was the color of the industrial revolution, largely fueled by coal, and later by oil. Thanks to coal smoke, the buildings of the large cities of Europe and America gradually turned black. By 1846 the industrial area of the West Midlands of England was “commonly called ‘the Black Country’.[23]Charles Dickens and other writers described the dark streets and smoky skies of London, and they were vividly illustrated in the engravings of French artist Gustave Dor.

A different kind of black was an important part of the romantic movement in literature. Black was the color of melancholy, the dominant theme of romanticism. The novels of the period were filled with castles, ruins, dungeons, storms, and meetings at midnight. The leading poets of the movement were usually portrayed dressed in black, usually with a white shirt and open collar, and a scarf carelessly over their shoulder, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron helped create the enduring stereotype of the romantic poet.

The invention of new, inexpensive synthetic black dyes and the industrialization of the textile industry meant that good-quality black clothes were available for the first time to the general population. In the 19th century gradually black became the most popular color of business dress of the upper and middle classes in England, the Continent, and America.

Black dominated literature and fashion in the 19th century, and played a large role in painting. James McNeil Whistler made the color the subject of his most famous painting, Arrangement in grey and black number one (1871), better known as Whistler’s Mother.

Some 19th-century French painters had a low opinion of black: “Reject black,” Paul Gauguin said, “and that mix of black and white they call gray. Nothing is black, nothing is gray.”[24] But douard Manet used blacks for their strength and dramatic effect. Manet’s portrait of painter Berthe Morisot was a study in black which perfectly captured her spirit of independence. The black gave the painting power and immediacy; he even changed her eyes, which were green, to black to strengthen the effect.[25]Henri Matisse quoted the French impressionist Pissarro telling him, “Manet is stronger than us all he made light with black.”[26]

Pierre-Auguste Renoir used luminous blacks, especially in his portraits. When someone told him that black was not a color, Renoir replied: “What makes you think that? Black is the queen of colors. I always detested Prussian blue. I tried to replace black with a mixture of red and blue, I tried using cobalt blue or ultramarine, but I always came back to ivory black.”[27]

Vincent van Gogh used black lines to outline many of the objects in his paintings, such as the bed in the famous painting of his bedroom. making them stand apart. His painting of black crows over a cornfield, painted shortly before he died, was particularly agitated and haunting.

In the late 19th century, black also became the color of anarchism. (See the section political movements.)

In the 20th century, black was the color of Italian and German fascism. (See the section political movements.)

In art, black regained some of the territory that it had lost during the 19th century. The Russian painter Kasimir Malevich, a member of the Suprematist movement, created the Black Square in 1915, is widely considered the first purely abstract painting. He wrote, “The painted work is no longer simply the imitation of reality, but is this very reality… It is not a demonstration of ability, but the materialization of an idea.”[28]

Black was also appreciated by Henri Matisse. “When I didn’t know what color to put down, I put down black,” he said in 1945. “Black is a force: I used black as ballast to simplify the construction… Since the impressionists it seems to have made continuous progress, taking a more and more important part in color orchestration, comparable to that of the double bass as a solo instrument.”[29]

In the 1950s, black came to be a symbol of individuality and intellectual and social rebellion, the color of those who didn’t accept established norms and values. In Paris, it was worn by Left-Bank intellectuals and performers such as Juliette Greco, and by some members of the Beat Movement in New York and San Francisco.[30] Black leather jackets were worn by motorcycle gangs such as the Hells Angels and street gangs on the fringes of society in the United States. Black as a color of rebellion was celebrated in such films as The Wild One, with Marlon Brando. By the end of the 20th century, black was the emblematic color of the punk subculture punk fashion, and the goth subculture. Goth fashion, which emerged in England in the 1980s, was inspired by Victorian era mourning dress.

In men’s fashion, black gradually ceded its dominance to navy blue, particularly in business suits. Black evening dress and formal dress in general were worn less and less. In 1960, John F. Kennedy was the last American President to be inaugurated wearing formal dress; President Lyndon Johnson and all his successors were inaugurated wearing business suits.

Women’s fashion was revolutionized and simplified in 1926 by the French designer Coco Chanel, who published a drawing of a simple black dress in Vogue magazine. She famously said, “A woman needs just three things; a black dress, a black sweater, and, on her arm, a man she loves.”[30] Other designers contributed to the trend of the little black dress. The Italian designer Gianni Versace said, “Black is the quintessence of simplicity and elegance,” and French designer Yves Saint Laurent said, “black is the liaison which connects art and fashion.[30] One of the most famous black dresses of the century was designed by Hubert de Givenchy and was worn by Audrey Hepburn in the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

The American Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s was a struggle for the political equality of African Americans. It developed into the Black Power movement in the late 1960s and 1970s, and popularized the slogan “Black is Beautiful”.

In the 1990s, the Black Standard became the banner of several Islamic extremist, jihadist groups. (See the section political movements.)

In the visible spectrum, black is the absorption of all colors.

Black can be defined as the visual impression experienced when no visible light reaches the eye. Pigments or dyes that absorb light rather than reflect it back to the eye “look black”. A black pigment can, however, result from a combination of several pigments that collectively absorb all colors. If appropriate proportions of three primary pigments are mixed, the result reflects so little light as to be called “black”.

This provides two superficially opposite but actually complementary descriptions of black. Black is the absorption of all colors of light, or an exhaustive combination of multiple colors of pigment. See also primary colors.

In physics, a black body is a perfect absorber of light, but, by a thermodynamic rule, it is also the best emitter. Thus, the best radiative cooling, out of sunlight, is by using black paint, though it is important that it be black (a nearly perfect absorber) in the infrared as well.

In elementary science, far ultraviolet light is called “black light” because, while itself unseen, it causes many minerals and other substances to fluoresce.

On January 16, 2008, researchers from Troy, New York’s Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute announced the creation of the then darkest material on the planet. The material, which reflected only 0.045 percent of light, was created from carbon nanotubes stood on end. This is 1/30 of the light reflected by the current standard for blackness, and one third the light reflected by the previous record holder for darkest substance.[31] As of February 2016, the current darkest material known is claimed to be Vantablack.[32][33]

A material is said to be black if most incoming light is absorbed equally in the material. Light (electromagnetic radiation in the visible spectrum) interacts with the atoms and molecules, which causes the energy of the light to be converted into other forms of energy, usually heat. This means that black surfaces can act as thermal collectors, absorbing light and generating heat (see Solar thermal collector).

Absorption of light is contrasted by transmission, reflection and diffusion, where the light is only redirected, causing objects to appear transparent, reflective or white respectively.

The earliest pigments used by Neolithic man were charcoal, red ocher and yellow ocher. The black lines of cave art were drawn with the tips of burnt torches made of a wood with resin.[36]

Different charcoal pigments were made by burning different woods and animal products, each of which produced a different tone. The charcoal would be ground and then mixed with animal fat to make the pigment.

The 15th-century painter Cennino Cennini described how this pigment was made during the Renaissance in his famous handbook for artists: “…there is a black which is made from the tendrils of vines. And these tendrils need to be burned. And when they have been burned, throw some water onto them and put them out and then mull them in the same way as the other black. And this is a lean and black pigment and is one of the perfect pigments that we use.”[37]

Cennini also noted that “There is another black which is made from burnt almond shells or peaches and this is a perfect, fine black.”[37] Similar fine blacks were made by burning the pits of the peach, cherry or apricot. The powdered charcoal was then mixed with gum arabic or the yellow of an egg to make a paint.

Different civilizations burned different plants to produce their charcoal pigments. The Inuit of Alaska used wood charcoal mixed with the blood of seals to paint masks and wooden objects. The Polynesians burned coconuts to produce their pigment.

Good-quality black dyes were not known until the middle of the 14th century. The most common early dyes were made from bark, roots or fruits of different trees; usually the walnut, chestnut, or certain oak trees. The blacks produced were often more gray, brown or bluish. The cloth had to be dyed several times to darken the color. One solution used by dyers was add to the dye some iron filings, rich in iron oxide, which gave a deeper black. Another was to first dye the fabric dark blue, and then to dye it black.

A much richer and deeper black dye was eventually found made from the Oak apple or gall-nut. The gall-nut is a small round tumor which grows on oak and other varieties of trees. They range in size from 25cm, and are caused by chemicals injected by the larva of certain kinds of gall wasp in the family Cynipidae.[38] The dye was very expensive; a great quantity of gall-nuts were needed for a very small amount of dye. The gall-nuts which made the best dye came from Poland, eastern Europe, the near east and North Africa. Beginning in about the 14th century, dye from gall-nuts was used for clothes of the kings and princes of Europe.[39]

Another important source of natural black dyes from the 17th century onwards was the logwood tree, or Haematoxylum campechianum, which also produced reddish and bluish dyes. It is a species of flowering tree in the legume family, Fabaceae, that is native to southern Mexico and northern Central America.[40] The modern nation of Belize grew from 17th century English logwood logging camps.

Since the mid-19th century, synthetic black dyes have largely replaced natural dyes. One of the important synthetic blacks is Nigrosin, a mixture of synthetic black dyes (CI 50415, Solvent black 5) made by heating a mixture of nitrobenzene, aniline and aniline hydrochloride in the presence of a copper or iron catalyst. Its main industrial uses are as a colorant for lacquers and varnishes and in marker-pen inks.[41]

The first known inks were made by the Chinese, and date back to the 23rd century B.C. They used natural plant dyes and minerals such as graphite ground with water and applied with an ink brush. Early Chinese inks similar to the modern inkstick have been found dating to about 256 BC at the end of the Warring States period. They were produced from soot, usually produced by burning pine wood, mixed with animal glue. To make ink from an inkstick, the stick is continuously ground against an inkstone with a small quantity of water to produce a dark liquid which is then applied with an ink brush. Artists and calligraphists could vary the thickness of the resulting ink by reducing or increasing the intensity and time of ink grinding. These inks produced the delicate shading and subtle or dramatic effects of Chinese brush painting.[42]

India ink (or Indian ink in British English) is a black ink once widely used for writing and printing and now more commonly used for drawing, especially when inking comic books and comic strips. The technique of making it probably came from China. India ink has been in use in India since at least the 4th century BC, where it was called masi. In India, the black color of the ink came from bone char, tar, pitch and other substances.[43][44]

The Ancient Romans had a black writing ink they called atramentum librarium.[45] Its name came from the Latin word atrare, which meant to make something black. (This was the same root as the English word atrocious.) It was usually made, like India ink, from soot, although one variety, called atramentum elephantinum, was made by burning the ivory of elephants.[46]

Gall-nuts were also used for making fine black writing ink. Iron gall ink (also known as iron gall nut ink or oak gall ink) was a purple-black or brown-black ink made from iron salts and tannic acids from gall nut. It was the standard writing and drawing ink in Europe, from about the 12th century to the 19th century, and remained in use well into the 20th century.

Sticks of vine charcoal and compressed charcoal. Charcoal, along with red and yellow ochre, was one of the first pigments used by Paleolithic man.

A Chinese inkstick, in the form of lotus flowers and blossoms. Inksticks are used in Chinese calligraphy and brush painting.

Ivory black or bone char, a natural black pigment made by burning animal bones.

The logwood tree from Central America produced dyes beginning in the 17th century. The nation of Belize began as a British colony producing logwood.

The oak apple or gall-nut, a tumor growing on oak trees, was the main source of black dye and black writing ink from the 14th century until the 19th century.

The industrial production of lamp black, made by producing, collecting and refining soot, in 1906.

Image of the NGC 406 galaxy from the Hubble Space Telescope

The night sky seen from Mars, with the two moons of Mars visible, taken by the NASA Spirit Rover.

Outside Earth’s atmosphere, the sky is black day and night.

Simulated view of a black hole in front of the Large Magellanic Cloud.

The fact that outer space is black is sometimes called Olbers’ paradox. In theory, because the universe is full of stars, and is believed to be infinitely large, it would be expected that the light of an infinite number of stars would be enough to brilliantly light the whole universe all the time. However, the background color of outer space is black. This contradiction was first noted in 1823 by German astronomer Heinrich Wilhelm Matthias Olbers, who posed the question of why the night sky was black.

The current accepted answer is that, although the universe is infinitely large, it is not infinitely old. It is thought to be about 13.8 billion years old, so we can only see objects as far away as the distance light can travel in 13.8 billion years. Light from stars farther away has not reached Earth, and cannot contribute to making the sky bright. Furthermore, as the universe is expanding, many stars are moving away from Earth. As they move, the wavelength of their light becomes longer, through the Doppler effect, and shifts toward red, or even becomes invisible. As a result of these two phenomena, there is not enough starlight to make space anything but black.[50]

The daytime sky on Earth is blue because light from the Sun strikes molecules in Earth’s atmosphere scattering light in all directions. Blue light is scattered more than other colors, and reaches the eye in greater quantities, making the daytime sky appear blue. This is known as Rayleigh scattering.

The nighttime sky on Earth is black because the part of Earth experiencing night is facing away from the Sun, the light of the Sun is blocked by Earth itself, and there is no other bright nighttime source of light in the vicinity. Thus, there is not enough light to undergo Rayleigh scattering and make the sky blue. On the Moon, on the other hand, because there is no atmosphere to scatter the light, the sky is black both day and night. This phenomenon also holds true for other locations without an atmosphere.

American black bear (Ursus americanus) near Riding Mountain Park, Manitoba, Canada

The black mamba of Africa is one of the most venomous snakes, as well as the fastest-moving snake in the world. The only black part of the snake is the inside of the mouth, which it exposes in a threat display when alarmed.

The black widow spider, or lactrodectus, The females frequently eat their male partners after mating. The female’s venom is at least three times more potent than that of the males, making a male’s self-defense bite ineffective.

The American crow is one of the most intelligent of all animals.[51]

In China, the color black is associated with water, one of the five fundamental elements believed to compose all things; and with winter, cold, and the direction north, usually symbolized by a black tortoise. It is also associated with disorder, including the positive disorder which leads to change and new life. When the first Emperor of China Qin Shi Huang seized power from the Zhou Dynasty, he changed the Imperial color from red to black, saying that black extinguished red. Only when the Han Dynasty appeared in 206 BC was red restored as the imperial color.[52]

The Chinese and Japanese character for black (kuro in Japanese), can, depending upon the context, also mean dark or evil.

In Japan, black is associated with mystery, the night, the unknown, the supernatural, the invisible and death. Combined with white, it can symbolize intuition.[53]

In Japan in the 10th and 11th century, it was believed that wearing black could bring misfortune. It was worn at court by those who wanted to set themselves apart from the established powers or who had renounced material possessions.[54]

In Japan black can also symbolize experience, as opposed to white, which symbolizes naivet. The black belt in martial arts symbolizes experience, while a white belt is worn by novices.[55] Japanese men traditionally wear a black kimono with some white decoration on their wedding day.

In Indonesia black is associated with depth, the subterranean world, demons, disaster, and the left hand. When black is combined with white, however, it symbolizes harmony and equilibrium.[56]

The first Chinese Emperor, Qin Shi Huang, made black his imperial color, saying that black extinguished red, the old dynastic color.

Japanese men traditionally wear a black kimono with some white decoration on their wedding day

Anarchism is a political philosophy, most popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which holds that governments and capitalism are harmful and undesirable. The symbols of anarchism was usually either a black flag or a black letter A. More recently it is usually represented with a bisected red and black flag, to emphasise the movement’s socialist roots in the First International. Anarchism was most popular in Spain, France, Italy, Ukraine and Argentina. There were also small but influential movements in the United States and Russia. In the latter, the movement initially allied itself with the Bolsheviks.[57]

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