Learn about this history of the color purple!

The Allure of Purple: A Color of Royalty, Spirituality, and Prestige

Throughout history, the color purple has held a special place, entwined with imperial and spiritual significance. Its allure has captivated societies and cultures, leaving an indelible mark on art and manuscripts.

Imperial Elegance in Purple

In ancient Rome, the color purple was synonymous with royalty and power. Roman emperors were known to exclusively reserve this majestic hue for their own clothing, showcasing their elevated status and authority. This practice bestowed an air of elegance and distinction upon the imperial court.

Spiritual Symbolism of Purple

Beyond its imperial associations, purple has long been imbued with profound spiritual symbolism. In Christianity, the color is often linked to penance, humility, and sorrow for Jesus' suffering. Its presence during Lent serves as a reminder of the solemnity and introspection that accompany this sacred season.

A Manuscript of Radiant Splendor

In the annals of history, one particular manuscript stands as a testament to the allure of purple. The Codex Purpureus Petropolitanus, an exquisite Greek manuscript of the Gospels, is a marvel to behold. Written in gold and silver on parchment stained with the royal color, it dates back to the 6th century, representing an early and rare use of purple in writing.

Purple's Renaissance in the Middle Ages

Fragment from the Codex Purpureus Petropolitanus


Fragment from the Codex Purpureus Petropolitanus, Antioch, 2nd half of the 6th century: Cotton MS Titus C XV, f. 3r

The splendor of purple carried over to the Middle Ages, where scribes and artists drew inspiration from these ancient manuscripts. In prestigious books and religious texts, purple found its way into the design, enhancing their beauty and reinforcing their significance. As a color of distinction and reverence, it adorned the illuminated pages of the most cherished works.

Through the ages, purple's association with majesty and spirituality has endured, leaving an enduring legacy in the realms of art, religion, and culture. Its timeless allure continues to inspire, weaving a rich tapestry of meanings and emotions that transcend time.

At Modern Medieval Press, we celebrate the enchanting power of colors and symbols, allowing them to shape our artistic expression. Just as purple has left an indelible mark on history, our art seeks to evoke emotions, connect with the past, and forge an enduring connection with those who encounter it.

Embrace the allure of purple and immerse yourself in the captivating world of Modern Medieval Press. Let our art transport you through time, celebrating the richness of history and the wonder of human creativity.

Back to blog