13 September 2015

Colour me red

Where do colour names come from? Several colours were originally types of cloth - the colour that the cloth was habitually dyed came to be know by the name of the cloth itself.

Russet, in the 13th century, was a coarse homespun woolen cloth dyed with woad and madder; it was worn by Franciscan friars to show humility, but they usually prefered the better quality russet, made in Colchester.

In Persia, saqalat was a kind of rich cloth; by the 12th century the French word escarlate and by the 15th century the English word scarlet came by association to mean a bright, costly red dye

In medieval times, stammel was a coarse woolen cloth dyed bright red, used by some ascetics to make undergarments; later the red colour for such cloth, cheaper than scarlet, was known as stammel

1 comment:

Kathleen Loomis said...

interesting that two out of the three remain as common color words, while the third has disappeared. at least as far as I know -- but you have a paint chip with that as the color name??? is the word still used in England?

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