The Egyptians chose extreme redness. For the peoples of the north, whiteness; for Orientals, yellowness or goodness and Negroes, extreme blackness. The Egyptians used henna to stain their bodies red. Red was exaggerated when they portrayed themselves. The Egyptians understood colour and used purple as the colour of the earth. Egyptians used blue on the ceilings of their temples with drawings of the constellations. Their floors were often green or blue, relating to the meadows of the Nile.  


The American Indian is popularly known today as a true Red Man. Red became the most significant of colours. In the cultures that rose along the Nile in northern Africa and along the Tigress and Euphrates in Asia Minor, red was dominant. Many tribes of Indians in America, including Apache and Cherokee, identify colour with the four quarters of the earth. The American Indian’s higher world may be made up of many colours. The colours of the masks, the tattooing of his face and the effigies they make are full of significance. He also applies colour to his songs, ceremonies, games and prayers to invoke many different things – rain, harvest, peace and victory, fertility. The American Indian symbolises red for day and black for night. Red, yellow and black is masculine, while white, blue and green are feminine colours. The American Indian relates colour to the elements of fire, wind, water and earth. Evil was thought to be repelled through certain rituals, charms, colours and chants. The Egyptians wore the crucifix to defy the Red Satan.


The Hopi, who are involved in painting, will place yellow colour, which represents the north, first, then place the green or blue of the west, the red of the South and the white of the east. To the Cherokee, red is for his success and triumph, while blue denotes defeat or turbulence. White is for happiness and peace, and black is for death. Their prayer sticks are bright green to call the rain and red in a time of war. 


Jewellery had its origin in mysticism. Although rings, necklaces and bracelets enhanced appearance, they were used in general to protect the wearer from disease and the “evil eye” and also to bring favour from the gods. Amethyst became the talisman of the warrior and gave him courage and calm to go forward and be victorious. 


The colour blue is associated with the Virgin Mary and relates to an ancient attitude..

 Marduke carried a red stone shaped like an eye between his teeth to overcome all evil influences.. 


Persian interior decorations were designed to be seen in the shade and included rose, flame red, white and gold on a lustrous blue ground. The Persians occupied a colourful region at high altitude, where the air was clear, and they took full advantage of the situation. Interests in the physical nature of colour developed in Ancient Greece alongside the concept of the elements – air, fire, water and earth. These fundamental constituents of the universe were associated with the qualities of coldness, heat, wetness and dryness and also with four senses of humor’s or bodily fluids – choler or yellow bile, blood (red), phlegm (white) and melancholy or black bile. These were thought to arise in four organs – the spleen, heart, liver and brain – and to determine emotional and physical disposition. Health involved the proper balance of these humor’s and disease would result if their mixture was in an unbalanced proportion. 

Colour was intrinsic to healing, which involved restoring the balance. Coloured garments, oils, plasters, ointments and salves were used to treat disease. 


By the end of the Classical period in Greece, these principles were included in the scientific framework that was to remain largely unchanged in the West until the Middle Ages. In the first century AD, Aurelius Cornelius followed the doctrines established by Pythagoras and Hippocrates and included the use of coloured ointments, plasters and flowers in several treatises on medicine.