- Purple, the color of the upper class, ruling people
- The political image and strategy from the color of purple
Purple, the color of the upper class, ruling people
At one time in Japan, the color purple was very rarely seen. During the Nara period, about 1400 years ago, only high-level officials and the Imperial family could wear purple clothes. The color of purple used to be very pricy because it needed to be extracted from “Shigusa” (purple gromwell plant), which is very difficult to grow. It also requires a lot of effort to dye using the color purple. This has been widely known by people since the year 604, when the twelve level cap and rank system was enacted in Japan. When Buddhism came to Japan, the monks who had a high-level of virtue were allowed to wear purple, while ordinary people were forbidden to wear purple clothes.
The political image and strategy from the color of purple
Coming into the Heian period (794-1185), the color of purple was associated with wisteria flowers. During the middle of the Heian period, the Fujiwara officials implemented a regency government. Following that, the thought of Fuji (wisteria flowers) was Fujiwara = purple = ruling class. Much like that, the thought of Tokugawa became Tokugawa = mallow(purple) = ruling class during the Edo period (1603-1868).
In Noh’s performances, purple and white are often used for the costumes of the emperor and Gods. Other characters absolutely do not wear any shade of purple in their costumes. Please check out these costumes when you visit a Noh theatre.