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Black is a color which results from the absence or complete
absorption Absorption may refer to: Chemistry and biology *Absorption (chemistry), diffusion of particles of gas or liquid into liquid or solid materials *Absorption (skin), a route by which substances enter the body through the skin *Absorption (pharmacolo ...
of
visible Visibility is in meteorology, a measure of the distance at which an object or light can be seen. Visibility may also refer to: * Visual perception ** Naked-eye visibility * A measure of turbidity in water quality control * Interferometric visibili ...
light Light or visible light is electromagnetic radiation within the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that is visual perception, perceived by the human eye. Visible light is usually defined as having wavelengths in the range of 400–700 nan ...

light
. It is an achromatic color, without
hue In color theory In the visual arts The visual arts are art forms such as painting Painting is the practice of applying paint Paint is any pigmented liquid, liquefiable, or solid mastic composition that, after applica ...

hue
, like
white White is the lightest color Color (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the Unite ...

white
and
gray Grey or gray (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Currently, American En ...

gray
. It is often used
symbol A symbol is a mark, sign, or word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), m ...

symbol
ically or figuratively to represent darkness. Black and white have often been used to describe opposites such as
good 125px, In many Western religions, angels are considered to be good beings and are contrasted with devils who are considered evil In most contexts, the concept of good denotes the conduct that should be preferred when posed with a choice betwee ...

good
and
evil Evil, in a general sense, is defined by what it is not—the opposite or absence of good 125px, In many Western religions, angels are considered to be good beings and are contrasted with devils who are considered evil In most contexts, t ...
, the
Dark Ages Dark Ages or Dark Age may refer to: History and sociology *Dark Ages (historiography), the use of the term ''Dark Ages'' by historians and lay people **Byzantine Dark Ages (7th–8th centuries), period of large-scale transformation but obscure du ...
versus
Age of Enlightenment The Age of Enlightenment (also known as the Age of Reason or simply the Enlightenment); ger, Aufklärung, "Enlightenment"; it, L'Illuminismo, "Enlightenment"; pl, Oświecenie , "Enlightenment"; pt, Iluminismo, "Enlightenment"; es, link= ...
, and
night Night (also described as night time, night-time, or nighttime, unconventionally spelled as ''nite'') is the period of :wikt:ambient, ambient darkness from sunset to sunrise during each 24-hour day, when the Sun is below the horizon. The exact ...

night
versus
day The word day has a number of meanings, depending on the context it is used such as of astronomy, physics, and various calendar systems. As a term in physics and astronomy it is approximately the period during which the Earth completes one ro ...

day
. Since the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
, 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 The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is t ...
cave paintings. It was used in ancient Egypt and Greece as the color of the
underworld upThe legs of the god seven_realms_of_the_Hindus.html" "title="Patala#Hinduism.html" "title="Cosmic_Man.html" ;"title="Vishnu as the Cosmic Man">Vishnu as the Cosmic Man depict earth and the Patala#Hinduism">seven realms of the Hindus">Hind ...
. In the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
, it became the color of mourning, and over the centuries it was frequently associated with
death Death is the permanent, irreversible cessation of all biological functions that sustain a living Living or The Living may refer to: Common meanings *Life, a condition that distinguishes organisms from inorganic objects and dead organi ...

death
, evil,
witches In many cultures, witchcraft traditionally means the use of magic Magic or Magick may refer to: * Ceremonial magic, encompasses a wide variety of rituals of magic * Chaos magic#REDIRECT Chaos magic {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from m ...

witches
and
magic Magic or Magick may refer to: * Ceremonial magic, encompasses a wide variety of rituals of magic * Chaos magic#REDIRECT Chaos magic {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from miscapitalization {{R unprintworthy ..., a contemporary magical practic ...
. In the 14th century, it was worn by royalty, 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. 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. Black
ink Ink is a gel, Sol (colloid), sol, or Solution (chemistry), solution that contains at least one colourant, such as a dye or pigment, and is used to color a surface to produce an image, writing, text, or design. Ink is used for drawing or writing ...

ink
is the most common color used for printing books, newspapers and documents, as it provides the highest contrast with white paper and thus the easiest color to read. Similarly, black text on a white screen is the most common format used on computer screens.Heller, Eva, ''Psychologie de la couleur – effets et symboliques'' (2009), p. 126 As of September 2019, the darkest material is made by
MIT Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private land-grant research university A research university is a university A university ( la, universitas, 'a whole') is an educational institution, institution of higher education, hi ...

MIT
engineers from vertically aligned
carbon nanotubes image of a single-walled carbon nanotube. Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are tubes made of carbon with diameters typically measured in nanometers. Carbon nanotubes often refer to single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) with diameters in the range of ...

carbon nanotubes
.


Etymology

The word ''black'' comes from
Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language ...
''blæc'' ("black, dark", ''also'', "ink"), from
Proto-Germanic Proto-Germanic (abbreviated PGmc; also called Common Germanic) is the reconstructed Reconstruction may refer to: Politics, history, and sociology *Reconstruction (law), the transfer of a company's (or several companies') business to a new ...
*''blakkaz'' ("burned"), from
Proto-Indo-European Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the theorized common ancestor of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( ...
*''bhleg-'' ("to burn, gleam, shine, flash"), from base *''bhel-'' ("to shine"), related to
Old Saxon Old Saxon, also known as Old Low German, was a Germanic language The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of ...
''blak'' ("ink"),
Old High German Old High German (OHG, german: Althochdeutsch, German abbr. ) is the earliest stage of the German language German ( Standard High German: , ) is a West Germanic language mainly spoken in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Euro ...
''blach'' ("black"),
Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germanic dialects before their final divergence into separate Nordic languages. Old Norse was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia Scandinavia; : ''Skades ...
''blakkr'' ("dark"),
Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * Dutch Castle Places * ...
''blaken'' ("to burn"), and
Swedish Swedish or ' may refer to: * Anything from or related to Sweden, a country in Northern Europe * Swedish language, a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Sweden and Finland * Swedish alphabet, the official alphabet used by the Swedish langua ...
''bläck'' ("ink"). More distant cognates include
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
''flagrare'' ("to blaze, glow, burn"), and
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the diale ...
''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.Michel Pastoureau, ''Noir – Histoire d'une couleur'', p. 34. 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,'' the English word ''Negro'', and the word for "black" in most modern
Romance languages The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin Vulgar Latin, also known as Popular or Colloquial Latin, is non-literary Literature broadly is any collection of w ...

Romance languages
(
French
French
: ''noir'';
Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambiguation), the name of several ...

Spanish
and
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portuguese language, a Romance language *** Portuguese dialects, variants of the Portuguese language ** Portug ...

Portuguese
: ''negro'';
Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic ** Italian language, a Romance language *** Regional Italian, regional variants of the ...

Italian
: ''nero'';
Romanian Romanian may refer to: *anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Romania Romania ( ; ro, România ) is a country at the crossroads of Central Europe, Central, Eastern Europe, Eastern and Southeast Europe, Southeastern Euro ...
: ''negru'').
Old High German Old High German (OHG, german: Althochdeutsch, German abbr. ) is the earliest stage of the German language German ( Standard High German: , ) is a West Germanic language mainly spoken in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Euro ...
also had two words for black: ''swartz'' for dull black and ''blach'' for a luminous black. These are parallelled in
Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) was a form of the English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured sys ...
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''. The former is
cognate In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Itali ...
with the words used for black in most modern
Germanic languages The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the languages of Europe together with those of the northern Indian su ...

Germanic languages
aside from English (
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
: ''schwarz'',
Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * Dutch Castle Places * ...
: ''zwart'',
Swedish Swedish or ' may refer to: * Anything from or related to Sweden, a country in Northern Europe * Swedish language, a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Sweden and Finland * Swedish alphabet, the official alphabet used by the Swedish langua ...
: ''svart'',
Danish Danish may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to the country of Denmark * A national or citizen of Denmark, also called a "Dane", see Demographics of Denmark * Danish people or Danes, people with a Danish ancestral or ethnic identity * Danis ...
: ''sort'',
Icelandic Icelandic refers to anything of, from, or related to Iceland and may refer to: *Icelandic people *Icelandic language *Icelandic alphabet *Icelandic cuisine See also

* Icelander (disambiguation) * Icelandic Airlines, a predecessor of Icelandai ...
: ''svartr''). In heraldry, the word used for the black color is
sable The sable (''Martes zibellina'') is a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the la ...
, named for the black fur of the
sable The sable (''Martes zibellina'') is a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the la ...

sable
, an animal.


Art


Prehistoric

Black was one of the first colors used in art. The
Lascaux Cave Lascaux ( , ; french: Grotte de Lascaux , "Lascaux Cave") is a network of caves near the village of Montignac, in the department Department may refer to: * Departmentalization, division of a larger organization into parts with specific respon ...
in France contains drawings of bulls and other animals drawn by
paleolithic The Paleolithic or Palaeolithic or Palæolithic (), also called the Old Stone Age (from Greek palaios - old, lithos - stone), is a period in prehistory Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history ...
artists between 18,000 and 17,000 years ago. They began by using charcoal, and later achieved darker pigments by burning bones or grinding a powder of
manganese oxide Manganese oxide is any of a variety of manganese oxides and hydroxides.Wells A.F. (1984) ''Structural inorganic chemistry'' 5th edition Oxford Science Publications, . These include * Manganese(II) oxide Manganese(II) oxide is an inorganic compoun ...
.


Ancient

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 Anubis or Inpu, Anpu in Ancient Egyptian (; grc, Ἄνουβις, Egyptian language, Egyptian: ''inpw'', Coptic language, Coptic: ''Anoup'') is the Ancient Greek language, Greek name of the god of death, mummification, embalming, the afterli ...

Anubis
, the god of the underworld, who took the form of a black
jackal Jackals are medium-sized omnivorous mammals of the subtribe Canina, which also includes wolves and the domestic dog The dog or domestic dog (''Canis familiaris'' or ''Canis lupus familiaris'') is a Domestication, domesticated descenda ...

jackal
, and offered protection against evil to the dead. To ancient Greeks, black represented the underworld, separated from the living by the river
Acheron The Acheron (; grc, Ἀχέρων ''Acheron'' or Ἀχερούσιος ''Acherousios''; ell, Αχέροντας ''Acherontas'') is a river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lak ...

Acheron
, whose water ran black. Those who had committed the worst sins were sent to
Tartarus In Greek mythology Greek mythology is the body of myth Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A b ...

Tartarus
, the deepest and darkest level. In the center was the palace of
Hades Hades (; grc-gre, ᾍδης, Háidēs; ), in the ancient Greek religion Ancient Greek religion encompasses the collection of beliefs, rituals, and mythology Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture share ...

Hades
, the king of the underworld, where he was seated upon a black
ebony Ebony is a dense black/brown hardwood is a popular hardwood Hardwood is wood Wood is a porous and fibrous structural tissue found in the Plant stem, stems and roots of trees and other woody plants. It is an organic materiala natura ...
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 Black-figure pottery painting, also known as the black-figure style or black-figure ceramic (Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Re ...
and later red figure pottery, using a highly original technique. In black-figure pottery, the artist would paint figures with a glossy clay
slip Slip or SLIP may refer to: Science and technology Biology * Slip (fish) Sole is a fish belonging to several families. Generally speaking, they are members of the family Soleidae, but, outside Europe, the name ''sole'' is also applied to vario ...
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. In the social hierarchy of
ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survives. A historian is a person who stud ...
, 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. In
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

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". 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. The German and Scandinavian peoples worshipped their own goddess of the night,
Nótt In Norse mythology Norse or Scandinavian mythology is the body of myths Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions common to that culture, ...
, 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 A raven is any of several larger-bodied bird Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrates constituting the class Class or The Class may refer to: Common uses not otherwise categorized * Class (biology), a taxonomic rank * Class ...

raven
. They believed that
Odin Odin (; from non, Óðinn, ) is a widely revered god in Germanic mythology Germanic mythology consists of the body of myth Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundat ...

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. File:Lascaux painting.jpg,
Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is t ...
paintings of bulls in the
Lascaux Cave Lascaux ( , ; french: Grotte de Lascaux , "Lascaux Cave") is a network of caves near the village of Montignac, in the department Department may refer to: * Departmentalization, division of a larger organization into parts with specific respon ...
, more than 17,000 years old File:Tutanhkamun jackal.jpg, Statue of Anubis, guardian of the
underworld upThe legs of the god seven_realms_of_the_Hindus.html" "title="Patala#Hinduism.html" "title="Cosmic_Man.html" ;"title="Vishnu as the Cosmic Man">Vishnu as the Cosmic Man depict earth and the Patala#Hinduism">seven realms of the Hindus">Hind ...
, from the tomb of
Tutankhamun Tutankhamun (, egy, wikt:twt-ꜥnḫ-jmn, twt-ꜥnḫ-jmn ''Təwātə-ʿānəḫ-amānə'', ; Egyptological pronunciation ''Tūt-anḫ-āmen'', ;  1341 1323 BC), commonly referred to as King Tut, was an ancient Egyptian phara ...

Tutankhamun
. File:Akhilleus Aias MGEt 16757.jpg, Greek
black-figure pottery Black-figure pottery painting, also known as the black-figure style or black-figure ceramic (Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Re ...
.
Ajax Ajax (also AJAX ; short for "Asynchronous JavaScript JavaScript (), often abbreviated JS, is a programming language A programming language is a formal language comprising a Instruction set architecture, set of instructions that produ ...
and
Achilles In Greek mythology Greek mythology is the body of myth Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A be ...

Achilles
playing a game, about 540–530 BC. (Vatican Museums). File:Pyxis Peleus Thetis Louvre L55 by Wedding Painter.jpg,
Red-figure pottery Red-figure vase painting is one of the most important styles of figural Greek vase painting Ancient Greek pottery, due to its relative durability, comprises a large part of the archaeological record of ancient Greece, and since there is so much ...
with black background. Portrait of
Thetis Thetis (; grc-gre, Θέτις ), is a figure from Greek mythology Greek mythology is the body of myth Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses ...

Thetis
, about 470–480 BC. (The Louvre)


Postclassical

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.


12th and 13th centuries

In fashion, black did not have the prestige of red, the color of the nobility. It was worn by
Benedictine The Benedictines, officially the Order of Saint Benedict ( la, Ordo Sancti Benedicti, abbreviated as OSB), are a Christian monasticism, monastic Religious order (Catholic), religious order of the Catholic Church following the Rule of Saint Be ...
monks as a sign of humility and penitence. In the 12th century a famous theological dispute broke out between the
Cistercian The Cistercians, () officially the Order of Cistercians ( la, (Sacer) Ordo Cisterciensis, abbreviated as OCist or SOCist), are a Catholic religious order of monks and nuns that branched off from the Benedictines and follow the Rule of Saint Be ...
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 Bernard of Clairvaux ( la, Bernardus Claraevallensis; 109020 August 1153), venerated as Saint Bernard, was a Burgundian abbot Abbot (from Aramaic Aramaic (: ''Arāmāyā''; : ; : ; ) is a language that originated among the in the ...

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". 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 The black knight is a literary stock character Stock (also capital stock) is all of the shares into which ownership of a corporation is divided.Longman Business English Dictionary In American English, the shares are collectively known as "s ...

black knight
in the poetry of the Middle Ages was an enigmatic figure, hiding his identity, usually wrapped in secrecy. Black
ink Ink is a gel, Sol (colloid), sol, or Solution (chemistry), solution that contains at least one colourant, such as a dye or pigment, and is used to color a surface to produce an image, writing, text, or design. Ink is used for drawing or writing ...

ink
, invented in China, 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 Printing is a process for mass reproducing text and images An Synthetic aperture radar, SAR radar imaging, radar image acquired by the SIR-C/X-SAR radar on board the Space Shuttle Endeavour shows the Teide volcano. The city of Santa Cru ...

printing
. A new kind of ink, printer's ink, was created out of
soot Soot ( ) is a mass of impure Carbonaceous, carbon particles resulting from the incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons. It is more properly restricted to the product of the gas-phase combustion process but is commonly extended to include the resi ...
,
turpentine Turpentine (which is also called gum turpentine, spirit of turpentine, oil of turpentine, wood turpentine, terebenthene, terebinthine and (colloquially) turps) is a fluid obtained by the distillation Distillation, or classical distillation, ...
and
walnut oil Walnut oil is oil An oil is any nonpolar In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science that covers the Chemical element, elements that make up matter to ...
. 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. File:Duccio - The Temptation on the Mount.jpg, The Italian painter
Duccio di Buoninsegna Duccio di Buoninsegna ( , ; – ) was an Italian painter active in Siena Siena ( , ; in English sometimes spelled Sienna; lat, Sena Iulia) is a city in Tuscany, Italy. It is the capital of the province of Siena. The historic centre of Si ...
showed
Christ Jesus, likely from he, יֵשׁוּעַ, translit=Yēšūaʿ, label=Hebrew/Aramaic ( AD 30 / 33), also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus Christ, is the central figure of Christianity, the Major religious groups, world's largest ...

Christ
expelling the
Devil A devil is the personification Personification occurs when a thing or abstraction is represented as a person, in literature or art, as an anthropomorphic Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') ...

Devil
, shown covered with bristly black hair (1308–11). File:Fra Angelico 010.jpg, The 15th-century painting of the ''Last Judgement'' by
Fra Angelico Fra Angelico (born Guido di Pietro; February 18, 1455) was an Italians, Italian List of Italian painters, painter of the Early Italian Renaissance, Renaissance, described by Giorgio Vasari, Vasari in his ''Lives of the Artists'' as having "a ra ...
(1395–1455) depicted hell with a vivid black devil devouring sinners. File:Portretbenedykty324skiegomnich.jpg, Portrait of a monk of the
Benedictine Order The Benedictines, officially the Order of Saint Benedict ( la, Ordo Sancti Benedicti, abbreviated as OSB), are a Christian monasticism, monastic Religious order (Catholic), religious order of the Catholic Church following the Rule of Saint Ben ...
(1484) File:Le Livre du cœur d'amour épris1.jpg, The black knight in a miniature painting of a medieval romance,''Le Livre du cœur d'amour épris'' (about 1460) File:Gutenberg bible Old Testament Epistle of St Jerome.jpg,
Gutenberg Bible The Gutenberg Bible (also known as the 42-line Bible, the Mazarin Bible or the B42) was the earliest major book printed using mass-produced movable metal type in Europe. It marked the start of the " Gutenberg Revolution" and the age of printed ...

Gutenberg Bible
(1451–1452). 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.


14th and 15th centuries

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 The sable (''Martes zibellina'') is a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the la ...

sable
. This glossy black fur, from an animal of the
marten The martens constitute the genus Genus (plural genera) is a taxonomic rank Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification. The term may also ...

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 Sumptuary laws (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of t ...
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 Venice ( ; it, Venezia ; vec, Venesia or ) is a city in northeastern Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of delimited by the and surrounding ...

Venice
and the peacock blue fabrics from
Florence Florence ( ; it, Firenze ) is a city in Central-Northern Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of Italian Peninsula, a peninsula delimited by the Al ...

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. 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 OrleansLouis may refer to: * Louis (given name) Louis is the French language, French form of the Old Frankish language, Old Frankish given name Clovis (given name), Chlodowig and one of two English language, English forms, the other being Lewis (given nam ...
, younger brother of King
Charles VI of France Charles VI (3 December 136821 October 1422), called the Beloved (french: le Bien-Aimé) and later the Mad (french: le Fol or ''le Fou''), was King of France from 1380 until his death in 1422. He is known for his mental illness and psychotic epis ...

Charles VI of France
. It moved to England at the end of the reign of King
Richard II Richard II (6 January 1367 – c. 14 February 1400), also known as Richard of Bordeaux, was King of England from 1377 until he was List of deposed politicians, deposed in 1399. Richard's father, Edward the Black Prince, Edward, Prince of ...

Richard II
(1377–1399), where all the court began to wear black. In 1419–20, black became the color of the powerful Duke of Burgundy,
Philip the Good Philip III (french: Philippe le Bon; nl, Filips de Goede; 31 July 1396 – 15 June 1467) was Duke of Burgundy Duke of Burgundy (french: duc de Bourgogne) was a title used by the rulers of the Duchy of Burgundy The Duchy of Burgundy (; la, ...

Philip the Good
. It moved to Spain, where it became the color of the Spanish Habsburgs, of
Charles VCharles V may refer to: * Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, german: Karl V, it, Carlo V, nl, Karel V, la, Carolus V (24 February 1500 – 21 September 1558) was Holy Roman Emperor The Holy Roman Emperor, originally and offici ...

Charles V
and of his son,
Philip II of Spain Philip II) in Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_anthem = , image_map = , map_caption ...

Philip II of Spain
(1527–1598). 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. File:Philip the good.jpg,
Philip the Good Philip III (french: Philippe le Bon; nl, Filips de Goede; 31 July 1396 – 15 June 1467) was Duke of Burgundy Duke of Burgundy (french: duc de Bourgogne) was a title used by the rulers of the Duchy of Burgundy The Duchy of Burgundy (; la, ...

Philip the Good
in about 1450, by Rogier van der Weyden File:Petrus Christus - Portrait of a Young Woman - Google Art Project.jpg, ''Portrait of a Young Woman'' by
Petrus Christus Petrus Christus (; 1410/1420 – 1475/1476) was an Early Netherlandish painter Early may refer to: History * The beginning or oldest part of a defined historical periodHuman history is commonly divided into three main Era, eras — Ancient his ...
(about 1470) File:Titian - Portrait of Charles V Seated - WGA22964.jpg,
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, french: Charles Quint, it, Carlo V, nl, Karel V, ca, Carles V, la, Carolus V (24 February 1500 – 21 September 1558) was Holy Roman Emperor The Holy Roman Emperor, originally and officially the Emperor of the Romans ( ...

Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
(1500–1558), by
Titian Tiziano Vecelli or Vecellio (; 27 August 1576), known in English as Titian ( ), was an Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Ita ...
File:Portrait of Philip II of Spain by Sofonisba Anguissola - 002b.jpg, Portrait of
Philip II of Spain Philip II) in Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_anthem = , image_map = , map_caption ...

Philip II of Spain
(1527–1598)


Modern


16th and 17th centuries

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.
John Calvin John Calvin (; Middle French Middle French (french: moyen français) is a historical division of the French language French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family The Indo-European languages are a language fami ...

John Calvin
,
Philip Melanchthon Philip Melanchthon. (born Philipp Schwartzerdt; 16 February 1497 – 19 April 1560) was a German Lutheran Protestant Reformers, reformer, collaborator with Martin Luther, the first systematic theologian of the Protestant Reformation, intellectu ...
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. 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. In the Protestant Netherlands,
Rembrandt Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (, ; 15 July 1606 – 4 October 1669), usually simply known as Rembrandt, was a Dutch Golden Age painter, printmaker and Drawing, draughtsman. An innovative and prolific Old Masters, master in three art medi ...

Rembrandt
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 Sir Peter Paul Rubens (; ; 28 June 1577 – 30 May 1640) was a Flemish Flemish (''Vlaams'') is a Low Franconian Low Franconian, Low Frankish, NetherlandicSarah Grey Thomason, Terrence Kaufman: ''Language Contact, Creolization, and Geneti ...

Rubens
, went in the opposite direction; they filled their paintings with bright and rich colors. The new
Baroque The Baroque (, ; ) is a style Style is a manner of doing or presenting things and may refer to: * Architectural style, the features that make a building or structure historically identifiable * Design, the process of creating something * Fashi ...

Baroque
churches of the
Counter-Reformation The Counter-Reformation (), also called the Catholic Reformation () or the Catholic Revival, was the period of Catholic Church, Catholic resurgence that was initiated in response to the Protestant Reformation, also known as the Protestant Revo ...
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. File:John Calvin 11.jpg, Swiss theologian
John Calvin John Calvin (; Middle French Middle French (french: moyen français) is a historical division of the French language French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family The Indo-European languages are a language fami ...

John Calvin
denounced the bright colors worn by Roman Catholic priests, and colorful decoration of churches. File:Increase Mather.jpg,
Increase Mather Increase Mather (June 21, 1639 Old Style Old Style (O.S.) and New Style (N.S.) indicate a dating system from before and after a calendar change, respectively. Usually this is the change from the Julian calendar The Julian calendar, prop ...

Increase Mather
, an American Puritan clergyman (1688). File:George-Henry-Boughton-Pilgrims-Going-To-Church.jpg, American Pilgrims in New England going to church (painting by George Henry Boughton, 1867) File:Rembrandt van Rijn - Self-Portrait - Google Art Project.jpg,
Rembrandt Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (, ; 15 July 1606 – 4 October 1669), usually simply known as Rembrandt, was a Dutch Golden Age painter, printmaker and Drawing, draughtsman. An innovative and prolific Old Masters, master in three art medi ...

Rembrandt
, ''Self-portrait'' (1659) File:Infantry Armor MET DP277181.jpg, Black painted suit of German armor crafted circa 1600. As with many outfits, black in the piece is used to contrast against lighter colors.
In the second part of the 17th century, Europe and America experienced an epidemic of fear of
witchcraft In many cultures, witchcraft traditionally means the use of magic Magic or Magick may refer to: * Ceremonial magic, encompasses a wide variety of rituals of magic * Chaos magic#REDIRECT Chaos magic {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from m ...

witchcraft
. People widely believed that the devil appeared at midnight in a ceremony called a
Black Mass A Black Mass is a ceremony typically celebrated by various satanic groups. It has existed for centuries in different forms and is directly based on a Catholic Mass. However, a Black Mass takes the Catholic Mass and inverts it, intentionally mock ...
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 spirit In European folklore Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, ...
s, 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 Flanders (, ; Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * ...

Flanders
, in a ceremony called ''Kattenstoet,'' black cats were thrown from the belfry of the Cloth Hall of
Ypres Ypres ( , ; nl, Ieper ; vls, Yper; german: Ypern ) is a Belgian Belgian may refer to: * Something of, or related to, Belgium Belgium, ; french: Belgique ; german: Belgien officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Euro ...

Ypres
to ward off witchcraft. Witch trials were common in both Europe and America during this period. During the notorious
Salem witch trials The Salem witch trials were a series of hearings and prosecutions of people accused of witchcraft in Province of Massachusetts Bay, colonial Massachusetts between February 1692 and May 1693. More than two hundred people were accused. Thirty ...
in New England in 1692–93, 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. Nineteen women and men were hanged as witches. File:Matthewhopkins.png, An English manual on witch-hunting (1647), showing a witch with her
familiar spirit In European folklore Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, ...
s File:Black cat eyes.jpg,
Black cat A black cat is a Cat, domestic cat with black fur that may be a mixed or specific Purebred, breed, or a common domestic cat of no particular breed. The Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) recognizes 22 cat breeds that can come with solid black coats ...

Black cat
s have been accused for centuries of being the
familiar spirit In European folklore Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, ...
s of witches or of bringing bad luck.


18th and 19th centuries

In the 18th century, during the European
Age of Enlightenment The Age of Enlightenment (also known as the Age of Reason or simply the Enlightenment); ger, Aufklärung, "Enlightenment"; it, L'Illuminismo, "Enlightenment"; pl, Oświecenie , "Enlightenment"; pt, Iluminismo, "Enlightenment"; es, link= ...
, 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 The French Revolution ( ) was a period of radical political and societal change in France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a spanning and in the and the , and s. Its ...

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 Smoke is a collection of airborne and es emitted when a material undergoes or , together with the quantity of air that is or otherwise mixed into the mass. It is commonly an unwanted of fires (including s, s, s, s, and s), but may als ...

smoke
, the buildings of the large cities of Europe and America gradually turned
black Black is a color which results from the absence or complete absorption Absorption may refer to: Chemistry and biology *Absorption (chemistry), diffusion of particles of gas or liquid into liquid or solid materials *Absorption (skin), a rout ...
. By 1846 the industrial area of the West Midlands of England was "commonly called 'the
Black Country The Black Country is an area of the English West Midlands (county), West Midlands, covering most of the Metropolitan Boroughs of Metropolitan Borough of Dudley, Dudley, Sandwell, and only some minor parts of Metropolitan Borough of Walsall, Wa ...
'”.
Charles Dickens Charles John Huffam Dickens (; 7 February 1812 – 9 June 1870) was an English writer and social critic. He created some of the world's best-known fictional characters and is regarded by many as the greatest novelist of the Victorian e ...

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 Doré Paul Gustave Louis Christophe Doré ( , , ; 6 January 1832 – 23 January 1883) was a French artist, as a printmaker 300px, Rembrandt, ''Self-portrait'', etching">Self-portrait.html" ;"title="Rembrandt, ''Self-portrait">Rembrandt, ''Self ...

Gustave Doré
. A different kind of black was an important part of the
romantic movement Romanticism (also known as the Romantic era) was an artistic, literary, musical, and intellectual movement that originated in Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mas ...
in literature. Black was the color of , 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 Percy Bysshe Shelley ( ; 4 August 17928 July 1822) was one of the major English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England ...
and Lord Byron helped create the enduring stereotype of the romantic poet. The invention of inexpensive synthetic black dyes and the industrialization of the textile industry meant that high-quality black clothes were available for the first time to the general population. In the 19th century black gradually 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 James Abbott McNeill Whistler (; July 11, 1834July 17, 1903) was an American artist active during the American Gilded Age In United States history, the Gilded Age was an era that occurred during the late 19th century, from the 1870s to abo ...
made the color the subject of is most famous painting, ''Arrangement in grey and black number one'' (1871), better known as ''
Whistler's Mother ''Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1'', best known under its colloquial name ''Whistler's Mother'', is a painting in oils on canvas created by the American-born painter James McNeill Whistler James Abbott McNeill Whistler (; July 11, 1834July ...
''. Some 19th-century French painters had a low opinion of black: "Reject black,"
Paul Gauguin Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin (, ; ; 7 June 1848 – 8 May 1903) was a French Post-Impressionist artist. Unappreciated until after his death, Gauguin is now recognized for his experimental use of color and Synthetism, Synthetist style that were di ...
said, "and that mix of black and white they call gray. Nothing is black, nothing is gray." But
Édouard Manet Édouard Manet (, , ; 23 January 1832 – 30 April 1883) was a French modernist painter. He was one of the first 19th-century artists to paint modern life, and a pivotal figure in the transition from realism (arts), Realism to Impressionis ...

Édouard Manet
used blacks for their strength and dramatic effect. Manet's portrait of painter
Berthe Morisot Berthe Marie Pauline Morisot (; January 14, 1841 – March 2, 1895) was a French painter and a member of the circle of painters in Paris who became known as the Impressionists. In 1864, Morisot exhibited for the first time in the highly est ...

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.
Henri Matisse Henri Émile Benoît Matisse (; 31 December 1869 – 3 November 1954) was a French artist, known for both his use of colour and his fluid and original draughtsmanship. He was a drawing, draughtsman, printmaking, printmaker, and sculpture, scul ...

Henri Matisse
quoted the French impressionist
Pissarro Camille Pissarro ( , ; 10 July 1830 – 13 November 1903) was a Danish-French Impressionist and Neo-Impressionist painter born on the island of St Thomas (now in the US Virgin Islands, but then in the Danish West Indies). His importance ...

Pissarro
telling him, "Manet is stronger than us all – he made light with black."
Pierre-Auguste Renoir Pierre-Auguste Renoir (; 25 February 1841 – 3 December 1919) was a French artist who was a leading painter in the development of the Impressionist Impressionism is a 19th-century art movement characterized by relatively small, thin, yet v ...
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."
Vincent van Gogh Vincent Willem van Gogh (; 30 March 185329 July 1890) was a Dutch Post-Impressionist painter who posthumously became one of the most famous and influential figures in Western art ''; by Johannes Vermeer Johannes Vermeer ( , , #Pronun ...
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 Anarchism is a political philosophy Political philosophy or political theory is the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, existence, knowledge ...

anarchism
. (See the section
political movements A political movement is a collective attempt by a group of people to change government policy or social values. Political movements are usually in opposition to an element of the status quo  and are often associated with a certain ideology. So ...
.) File:Whistlers Mother high res.jpg, ''Arrangement in Grey and Black Number 1'' (1871) by
James McNeil Whistler James Abbott McNeill Whistler (; July 11, 1834July 17, 1903) was an American artist active during the American Gilded Age In United States history, the Gilded Age was an era that occurred during the late 19th century, from the 1870s to abo ...
better known as ''
Whistler's Mother ''Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1'', best known under its colloquial name ''Whistler's Mother'', is a painting in oils on canvas created by the American-born painter James McNeill Whistler James Abbott McNeill Whistler (; July 11, 1834July ...
''. File:Edouard Manet - Berthe Morisot With a Bouquet of Violets - Google Art Project.jpg, '' Berthe Morisot with a Bouquet of Violets'', by
Édouard Manet Édouard Manet (, , ; 23 January 1832 – 30 April 1883) was a French modernist painter. He was one of the first 19th-century artists to paint modern life, and a pivotal figure in the transition from realism (arts), Realism to Impressionis ...

Édouard Manet
(1872). File:Edouard Manet 093.jpg, ''Le Bal de l'Opera'' (1873) by
Édouard Manet Édouard Manet (, , ; 23 January 1832 – 30 April 1883) was a French modernist painter. He was one of the first 19th-century artists to paint modern life, and a pivotal figure in the transition from realism (arts), Realism to Impressionis ...

Édouard Manet
, shows the dominance of black in Parisian evening dress. File:Pierre-Auguste Renoir 023.jpg, '' The Theater Box'' (1874) by
Pierre-Auguste Renoir Pierre-Auguste Renoir (; 25 February 1841 – 3 December 1919) was a French artist who was a leading painter in the development of the Impressionist Impressionism is a 19th-century art movement characterized by relatively small, thin, yet v ...
, captured the luminosity of black fabric in the light. File:Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) - Wheat Field with Crows (1890).jpg, ''Wheat Field with Crows'' (1890), one of the last paintings of
Vincent van Gogh Vincent Willem van Gogh (; 30 March 185329 July 1890) was a Dutch Post-Impressionist painter who posthumously became one of the most famous and influential figures in Western art ''; by Johannes Vermeer Johannes Vermeer ( , , #Pronun ...
, captures his agitated state of mind.


20th and 21st centuries

In the 20th century, black was the color of Italian and German
fascism Fascism () is a form of far-right, authoritarian ultranationalism characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, and strong regimentation of society and the economy that rose to prominence in early 20th-century Europ ...

fascism
. (See the section
political movements A political movement is a collective attempt by a group of people to change government policy or social values. Political movements are usually in opposition to an element of the status quo  and are often associated with a certain ideology. So ...
.) In art, black regained some of the territory that it had lost during the 19th century. The Russian painter
Kasimir Malevich , birth_date = , birth_place = Kiev Governorate of Russian Empire , death_date = , death_place = Leningrad, Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union , nationality = Russian Empire ...
, a member of the
Suprematist Suprematism (russian: Супремати́зм) is an art movement focused on basic geometric forms, such as circles, squares, lines, and rectangles, painted in a limited range of colors. It was founded by Kazimir Malevich in Russia, and announced ...
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." Black was also appreciated by
Henri Matisse Henri Émile Benoît Matisse (; 31 December 1869 – 3 November 1954) was a French artist, known for both his use of colour and his fluid and original draughtsmanship. He was a drawing, draughtsman, printmaking, printmaker, and sculpture, scul ...

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." 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 , and by some members of the
Beat Movement The Beat Generation was a literary movement started by a group of authors whose work explored and influenced American culture The culture of the United States of America is primarily of Western culture, Western origin, but its influences i ...
in New York and San Francisco.Eva Heller, ''Psychologie de la Couleur – effets et symboliques'', p. 120. Black leather jackets were worn by motorcycle gangs such as the
Hells Angels The Hells Angels Motorcycle Club (HAMC) is a worldwide one-percenter motorcycle club whose members typically ride Harley-Davidson Harley-Davidson, Inc., H-D, or Harley, is an American motorcycle manufacturer founded in 1903 in Milwaukee, W ...
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 ''The Wild One'' is a 1953 American film noir crime film Crime films, in the broadest sense, is a film genre inspired by and analogous to the crime fiction literary genre. Films of this genre generally involve various aspects of crime and ...
'', with
Marlon Brando Marlon Brando Jr. (April 3, 1924 – July 1, 2004) was an American actor with a career spanning 60 years, during which he won List of awards and nominations received by Marlon Brando, many accolades, including two Academy Award for Best Actor, A ...
. By the end of the 20th century, black was the emblematic color of the
punk subculture The punk subculture includes a diverse and widely known array of ideologies An ideology () is a set of belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Ps ...
punk fashion Punk fashion is the clothing File:KangaSiyu1.jpg, A kanga (African garment), kanga, worn throughout the African Great Lakes region Clothing (also known as clothes, apparel and attire) are items worn on the body. Clothing is typically made of ...
, and the
goth subculture Goth is a subculture A subculture is a group of people within a culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms found in human Society, societies, as well as the knowledge, belief ...
. Goth fashion, which emerged in England in the 1980s, was inspired by
Victorian era In the history of the United Kingdom The history of the United Kingdom began in the early eighteenth century with the Treaty of Union A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international l ...
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 John Fitzgerald Kennedy (May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963), often referred to by his initials JFK, was an American politician who served as the 35th president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the ...

John F. Kennedy
was the last American President to be inaugurated wearing formal dress; President
Lyndon Johnson Lyndon Baines Johnson (; August 27, 1908January 22, 1973), often referred to by his initials LBJ, was an American educator and politician who served as the 36th president of the United States from 1963 to 1969. He had previously served as the ...

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 Gabrielle Bonheur "Coco" Chanel ( ; 19 August 1883 – 10 January 1971) was a French fashion designer and businesswoman. The founder and namesake of the Chanel Chanel (, ) is a French language, French luxury fashion house that was founded ...
, 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." French designer
Jean Patou Jean Patou (; 27 September 1887 – 8 March 1936) was a French fashion designer, and founder of the . Early life Patou was born in Paris, France in 1887. Patou's family's business was tanning and furs. Patou worked with his uncle in , then m ...

Jean Patou
also followed suit by creating a black collection in 1929. Other designers contributed to the trend of the
little black dress The little black dress (LBD) is a black evening Evening is the period of a day A day is approximately the period during which the Earth completes one rotation around its axis, which takes around 24 hours. A solar day is the length of time ...

little black dress
. The Italian designer
Gianni Versace Giovanni Maria "Gianni" Versace (; 2 December 1946 – 15 July 1997) was an Italian fashion designer, socialite and businessman. He was the founder of Versace Gianni Versace S.r.l. (), usually referred to simply as Versace, is an Italian l ...
said, "Black is the quintessence of simplicity and elegance," and French designer
Yves Saint LaurentYves Saint Laurent may refer to: * Yves Saint Laurent (designer) (1936–2008), French fashion designer * Yves Saint Laurent (brand), a luxury fashion house founded in 1961 by Yves Saint Laurent and his partner, Pierre Bergé * Yves Saint Laurent (fi ...
said, "black is the liaison which connects art and fashion. One of the most famous black dresses of the century was designed by
Hubert de Givenchy Count Hubert James Marcel Taffin de Givenchy (pronounced ; 20 February 1927 – 10 March 2018) was a French aristocrat and fashion designer who founded the house of Givenchy in 1952. He is famous for having designed much of the personal and prof ...
and was worn by
Audrey Hepburn Audrey Hepburn (born Audrey Kathleen Ruston; 4 May 1929 – 20 January 1993) was a British actress and humanitarian. Recognised as both a film and fashion icon, she was ranked by the American Film Institute The American Film Institute (AFI) ...

Audrey Hepburn
in the 1961 film '' Breakfast at Tiffany's''. The American
civil rights movement The 1954–1968 civil rights movement in the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North ...
in the 1950s was a struggle for the political equality of
African Americans African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans or Afro-Americans) are an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being t ...
. It developed into the
Black Power Black Power is a political slogan The following is a list of notable 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st-century political slogan A slogan is a memorable motto or phrase used in a clan, political slogan, political, Advertising slogan, commercial, re ...

Black Power
movement in the late 1960s and 1970s, and popularized the slogan "". In the 1990s, the
Black Standard The Black Banner or Black Standard ( ar, الراية السوداء ''ar-rāyat as-sawdāʾ'', also known as ''rāyat al-ʻuqāb'' "wikt:راية#Arabic, banner of the wikt:عقاب#Arabic, eagle" or simply as ' "the banner") is one of the ...
became the banner of several
Islamic extremist Islamic extremism, Islamist extremism or radical Islam is extremism associated with the religion of Islam Islam (;There are ten pronunciations of ''Islam'' in English, differing in whether the first or second syllable has the stress, wheth ...
,
jihadist Jihadism is a neologism A neologism (; from Greek νέο- ''néo-'', "new" and λόγος ''lógos'', "speech, utterance") is a relatively recent or isolated term, word, or phrase that may be in the process of entering common use, but that ...
groups. (See the section
political movements A political movement is a collective attempt by a group of people to change government policy or social values. Political movements are usually in opposition to an element of the status quo  and are often associated with a certain ideology. So ...
.) File:Malevich.black-square.jpg, The '' Black Square'' (1915) by
Kazimir Malevich , birth_date = , birth_place = Kiev Governorate of Russian Empire , death_date = , death_place = Leningrad, Russian SFSR The Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (Russian SFSR or RSFSR; rus, links=no, ...
is considered the first purely abstract painting (Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow). File:Lady Amaranth.jpg, The
goth fashion Gothic fashion is a clothing style marked by dark, mysterious, antiquated and homogeneous features. It is worn by members of the Goth subculture Goth is a subculture A subculture is a group of people within a culture Culture () is an u ...
model Lady Amaranth. Goth fashion was inspired by British Victorian mourning costumes. File:Flag of Jihad.svg, Variants of the
Black Standard The Black Banner or Black Standard ( ar, الراية السوداء ''ar-rāyat as-sawdāʾ'', also known as ''rāyat al-ʻuqāb'' "wikt:راية#Arabic, banner of the wikt:عقاب#Arabic, eagle" or simply as ' "the banner") is one of the ...
flag are used by many
militant Islamist Islamism is a concept whose meaning has been debated in both public and academic contexts. The term can refer to diverse forms of social and political activism advocating that public and political life should be guided by Islamic principles or m ...
groups that have adopted militant interpretations of
jihad Jihad (; ar, جهاد, jihād ) is an Arabic word which literally means "striving" or "struggling", especially with a praiseworthy aim. In an Islamic context, it can refer to almost any effort to make personal and social life conform with Go ...
. it is said to be the banner carried by
Muhammad Muhammad ibn AbdullahHe is referred to by many appellations, including Messenger of Allah, The Prophet Muhammad, Allah's Apostle, Last Prophet of Islam, and others; there are also many variant spellings of Muhammad, such as Mohamet, Mohammed, ...

Muhammad
and his soldiers.


Science


Physics

In the
visible spectrum The visible spectrum is the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum The electromagnetic spectrum is the range of frequency, frequencies (the spectrum) of electromagnetic radiation and their respective wavelengths and photon energy, photon en ...
, black is the absorption of all colors. Black can be defined as the visual impression experienced when no
visible light Light or visible light is electromagnetic radiation within the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that is visual perception, perceived by the human eye. Visible light is usually defined as having wavelengths in the range of 400–700 nano ...
reaches the eye.
Pigment A pigment is a colored material that is completely or nearly insoluble in water. In contrast, dyes are typically soluble, at least at some stage in their use. Generally dyes are often organic compound , CH4; is among the simplest organic compou ...
s or
dye A dye is a color Color (American English) or colour (Commonwealth English) is the visual perception, visual perceptual Physical property, property corresponding in humans to the categories called ''blue'', ''green'', ''red'', etc. Colo ...
s 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. In physics, a
black body A black body or blackbody is an idealized physical object, physical body that absorption (electromagnetic radiation), absorbs all incident electromagnetic radiation, regardless of frequency or angle of incidence (optics), angle of incidence. The ...

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 Infrared (IR), sometimes called infrared light, is electromagnetic radiation In physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior ...

infrared
as well. In elementary science, far
ultraviolet Ultraviolet (UV) is a form of electromagnetic radiation In physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, ...

ultraviolet
light is called "
black light A blacklight (or often black light), also referred to as a UV-A light, Wood's lamp, or ultraviolet light, is a lamp (fixture), lamp that emits long-wave (UV-A) ultraviolet light and very little visible light. One type of lamp has a violet li ...

black light
" because, while itself unseen, it causes many minerals and other substances to
fluoresce light. Fluorescence is the emission of light Light or visible light is electromagnetic radiation within the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that can be visual perception, perceived by the human eye. Visible light is usually defi ...

fluoresce
. Absorption of light is contrasted by
transmission Transmission may refer to: Science and technology * Power transmissionPower transmission is the movement of energy from its place of generation to a location where it is applied to perform useful Mechanical work, work. Power (physics), Power is d ...

transmission
,
reflectionReflection or reflexion may refer to: Philosophy * Self-reflection Science * Reflection (physics), a common wave phenomenon ** Specular reflection, reflection from a smooth surface *** Mirror image, a reflection in a mirror or in water ** Signal r ...
and
diffusion Diffusion is the net movement of anything (for example, atoms, ions, molecules, energy) generally from a region of higher concentration In chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers ...

diffusion
, where the light is only redirected, causing objects to appear transparent, reflective or white respectively. A material is said to be black if most incoming light is absorbed equally in the material. Light (
electromagnetic radiation In physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. ...

electromagnetic radiation
in the
visible spectrum The visible spectrum is the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum The electromagnetic spectrum is the range of frequency, frequencies (the spectrum) of electromagnetic radiation and their respective wavelengths and photon energy, photon en ...
) with the
atom An atom is the smallest unit of ordinary matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can be touched are ultimately composed of ato ...

atom
s and
molecule A molecule is an electrically Electricity is the set of physical phenomena associated with the presence and motion Image:Leaving Yongsan Station.jpg, 300px, Motion involves a change in position In physics, motion is the phenomenon ...

molecule
s, 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 A solar thermal collector collects heat In thermodynamics, heat is energy in transfer to or from a thermodynamic system, by mechanisms other than Work (thermodynamics), thermodynamic work or Mass transfer, transfer of matter. The various ...
). As of September 2019, the darkest material is made from vertically aligned carbon nanotubes. The material was grown by MIT engineers and was reported to have a 99.995% absorption rate of any incoming light. This surpasses any former darkest materials including
Vantablack Vantablack is a material developed by Surrey NanoSystems in the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use ...
, which has an peak absorption rate of 99.965% in the visible spectrum.


Chemistry


Pigments

The earliest pigments used by Neolithic man were
charcoal Charcoal is a lightweight black carbon Carbon (from la, carbo "coal") is a with the C and 6. It is lic and —making four s available to form s. It belongs to group 14 of the periodic table. Carbon makes up only about 0.025 perc ...

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 In polymer chemistry Polymer chemistry is a sub-discipline of chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and s: their composition, stru ...

resin
.Anne Varichon, ''Couleurs – pigments et teintures dans les mains des peuples'', p. 256. 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. * ''Vine black'' was produced in Roman times by burning the cut branches of grapevines. It could also be produced by burning the remains of the crushed grapes, which were collected and dried in an oven. According to the historian
Vitruvius Vitruvius (; c. 80–70 BC – after c. 15 BC) was a Roman architect and engineer during the 1st century BC, known for his multi-volume work entitled ''De architectura (''On architecture'', published as ''Ten Books on Architecture'') i ...

Vitruvius
, the deepness and richness of the black produced corresponded to the quality of the wine. The finest wines produced a black with a bluish tinge the color of
indigo InterGlobe Aviation Ltd d/b/a IndiGo is an Indian low-cost airline headquartered in Gurgaon, Haryana, India. It is the largest List of airlines of India, airline in India by passengers carried and fleet size, with a 57% domestic market shar ...

indigo
. 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."Lara Broecke, ''Cennino Cennini's ''Il Libro dell'Arte'': a New English Translation and Commentary with Italian Transcription'', Archetype 2015, p. 60. Cennini also noted that "There is another black which is made from burnt almond shells or peaches and this is a perfect, fine black." Similar fine blacks were made by burning the pits of the peach, cherry or apricot. The powdered charcoal was then mixed with
gum arabic '', pictured in a medicinal handbook: Franz Eugen Köhler, ''Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen'' (1887) Gum arabic, also known as ''gum sudani'', acacia gum, Arabic gum, gum acacia, acacia, Senegal gum, ''Indian gum'', and by other names, is a natur ...
or the yellow of an egg to make a paint. Different civilizations burned different plants to produce their charcoal pigments. The
Inuit Inuit (; iu, ᐃᓄᐃᑦ 'the people', singular: Inuk, , dual: Inuuk, ) are a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples Indigenous peoples, also referred to as First people, Aboriginal people, Native people, or autochthonous people, ...
of Alaska used wood charcoal mixed with the blood of
seals Seals may refer to: * Pinniped Pinnipeds (pronounced ), commonly known as seals, are a widely and diverse of , -footed, , mostly s. They comprise the (whose only living member is the ), (the eared seals: s and s), and (the earless sea ...
to paint masks and wooden objects. The Polynesians burned coconuts to produce their pigment. * ''
Lamp black Carbon black (subtypes are acetylene black, channel black, furnace black, lamp black and thermal black) is a material produced by the incomplete combustion of heavy petroleum Petroleum (), also known as crude oil and oil, is a #Latent heat o ...
'' was used as a pigment for painting and frescoes. as a dye for fabrics, and in some societies for making tattoos. The 15th century Florentine painter Cennino Cennini described how it was made during the Renaissance: "... take a lamp full of linseed oil and fill the lamp with the oil and light the lamp. Then place it, lit, under a thoroughly clean pan and make sure that the flame from the lamp is two or three fingers from the bottom of the pan. The smoke that comes off the flame will hit the bottom of the pan and gather, becoming thick. Wait a bit. take the pan and brush this pigment (that is, this smoke) onto paper or into a pot with something. And it is not necessary to mull or grind it because it is a very fine pigment. Re-fill the lamp with the oil and put it under the pan like this several times and, in this way, make as much of it as is necessary." This same pigment was used by Indian artists to paint the
Ajanta Caves The Ajanta Caves are approximately 30 rock-cut Buddhist Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a - of designated and practices, , s, s, , , , , or , that relates humanity to , , and elements; howeve ...

Ajanta Caves
, and as dye in ancient Japan. * ''
Ivory black Bone char ( lat, carbo animalis) is a porous, black, granular material produced by charring animal bones. Its composition varies depending on how it is made; however, it consists mainly of tricalcium phosphate (or hydroxyapatite Hydroxyapa ...
'', also known as
bone char Bone char ( lat, carbo animalis) is a porous, black, granular material produced by charringCharring is a chemical process of incomplete combustion of certain solids when subjected to high heat. Heat distillation removes water vapour and volatile ...
, was originally produced by burning ivory and mixing the resulting charcoal powder with oil. The color is still made today, but ordinary animal bones are substituted for ivory. * '' Mars black'' is a black pigment made of synthetic
iron oxides Iron oxides are chemical compound A chemical compound is a chemical substance composed of many identical molecules (or molecular entity, molecular entities) composed of atoms from more than one chemical element, element held together by chemi ...

iron oxides
. It is commonly used in water-colors and oil painting. It takes its name from
Mars Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second-smallest planet in the Solar System, being larger than only Mercury (planet), Mercury. In English, Mars carries the name of the Mars (mythology), Roman god of war and is often referred to ...

Mars
, the god of war and patron of iron.


Dyes

Good-quality black
dyes A dye is a color Color (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Curr ...
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 walnuts, chestnuts, 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 An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus ''Quercus'' (; Latin "oak tree") of the beech family, Fagaceae. There are approximately list of Quercus species, 500 extant species of oaks. The common name "oak" also appears in the names of species in rel ...

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 2–5 cm, and are caused by chemicals injected by the larva of certain kinds of
gall wasp Gall wasps, also incorrectly called gallflies, are hymenopterans of the family Cynipidae in the wasp superfamily Cynipoidea. Their common name comes from the galls they induce on plants for larval development. About 1,300 species of this generall ...
in the family Cynipidae. 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. Another important source of natural black dyes from the 17th century onwards was the
logwood tree ''Haematoxylum campechianum'' (blackwood, bloodwood tree, bluewood, campeachy tree, campeachy wood, campeche logwood, campeche wood, Jamaica wood, logwood or logwood tree) is a species of flowering A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or ...
, or
Haematoxylum campechianum ''Haematoxylum campechianum'' (blackwood, bloodwood tree, bluewood, campeachy tree, campeachy wood, campeche logwood, campeche wood, Jamaica wood, logwood or logwood tree) is a species of flowering tree in the legume A legume () is a plant ...
, which also produced reddish and bluish dyes. It is a species of
flowering A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom, is the reproductive Reproduction (or procreation or breeding) is the biological process by which new individual organisms – "offspring" – are produced from their "parent" or parents ...

flowering
tree in the
legume A legume () is a plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to Energy transformation, convert light energy into chemical energy that, through cellular respiration, can ...

legume
family,
Fabaceae The Fabaceae or Leguminosae,International Code of Nomenc ...

Fabaceae
, that is native to southern Mexico and northern Central America. 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 In staining dyes, nigrosin (CI 50415, Solvent black 5) is a mixture of black synthetic dyes made by heating a mixture of nitrobenzene, aniline, and hydrochloric acid Hydrochloric acid, also known as muriatic acid, is an aqueous solution of ...
, a mixture of synthetic black dyes (CI 50415, Solvent black 5) made by heating a mixture of
nitrobenzene Nitrobenzene is an organic compound In chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and s: their composition, structure, properties, behavior ...

nitrobenzene
,
aniline Aniline is an organic compound In chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and s: their composition, structure, properties, behavior an ...

aniline
and aniline hydrochloride in the presence of a copper or iron
catalyst Catalysis () is the process of increasing the rate of a chemical reaction A chemical reaction is a process that leads to the chemical transformation of one set of chemical substance A chemical substance is a form of matter In cla ...

catalyst
. Its main industrial uses are as a colorant for lacquers and varnishes and in marker-pen inks.


Inks

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 Graphite (), archaically referred to as plumbago, is a Crystallinity, crystalline form of the element carbon with its atoms arranged in a Hexagonal crystal system, hexagonal structure. It occurs naturally in this form and is the most stable for ...

graphite
ground with water and applied with an
ink brush Ink brushes () are paintbrushes used in Chinese calligraphy Chinese calligraphy is the writing of Chinese characters as an art form, combining purely visual art and interpretation of the literary meaning. This type of expression has been w ...
. Early Chinese inks similar to the modern
inkstick Inksticks ( ') or ink cakes are a type of solid Chinese ink used traditionally in several Chinese and East Asian East Asia is the eastern region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth descripti ...

inkstick
have been found dating to about 256 BC at the end of the
Warring States period The Warring States period () was an era in ancient Chinese history characterized by warfare, as well as bureaucratic and military reforms and consolidation. It followed the Spring and Autumn period#REDIRECT Spring and Autumn period The Spri ...
. They were produced from
soot Soot ( ) is a mass of impure Carbonaceous, carbon particles resulting from the incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons. It is more properly restricted to the product of the gas-phase combustion process but is commonly extended to include the resi ...
, usually produced by burning pine wood, mixed with
animal glue Animal glue is an organic colloid of protein derivation used as an adhesive Adhesive, also known as glue, cement, mucilage, or paste, is any non-metallic substance applied to one or both surfaces of two separate items that them together and ...
. To make ink from an inkstick, the stick is continuously ground against an with a small quantity of water to produce a dark liquid which is then applied with an
ink brush Ink brushes () are paintbrushes used in Chinese calligraphy Chinese calligraphy is the writing of Chinese characters as an art form, combining purely visual art and interpretation of the literary meaning. This type of expression has been w ...
. 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.
India ink India ink (British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, w ...
(or "Indian ink" in
British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) is a language variety that has undergone substantial codification of grammar and usage and is employed by a populatio ...
) 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 Bone char ( lat, carbo animalis) is a porous, black, granular material produced by charringCharring is a chemical process of incomplete combustion of certain solids when subjected to high heat. Heat distillation removes water vapour and volatile ...
, tar,
pitch Pitch may refer to: Acoustic frequency * Pitch (music), the perceived frequency of sound including "definite pitch" and "indefinite pitch" ** Absolute pitch or "perfect pitch" ** Pitch class, a set of all pitches that are a whole number of octaves ...
and other substances. The ancient Romans had a black writing ink they called ''
atramentum Atramentum or atrament, generally means a very black, usually liquid, substance. For example, an octopus may emit a puff of atrament (see cephalopod ink). In ancient Rome, the term ''atramentum'' signified any black colouring substance used for any ...
librarium''. 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. Gall-nuts were also used for making fine black writing ink.
Iron gall ink and iron(II) sulfate, ingredients of iron gall ink Iron gall ink (also known as common ink, standard ink, oak gall ink or iron gall nut ink) is a purple-black or brown-black ink made from iron Iron () is a chemical element with Symbol (chemi ...
(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 acid Tannic acid is a specific form of tannin Tannins (or tannoids) are a class of , ic s that bind to and s and various other organic compounds including s and s. The term ''tannin'' (from ''tanner'', from ''tannāre'', from ''tannum'' ...

tannic acid
s 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. File:Charcoal sticks 051907.jpg, Sticks of vine charcoal and compressed charcoal. Charcoal, along with red and yellow ochre, was one of the first pigments used by Paleolithic man. File:Inkstick.jpg, A Chinese
inkstick Inksticks ( ') or ink cakes are a type of solid Chinese ink used traditionally in several Chinese and East Asian East Asia is the eastern region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth descripti ...

inkstick
, in the form of lotus flowers and blossoms. Inksticks are used in Chinese calligraphy and brush painting. File:Živočišné uhlí (Carbocit).jpg, Ivory black or
bone char Bone char ( lat, carbo animalis) is a porous, black, granular material produced by charringCharring is a chemical process of incomplete combustion of certain solids when subjected to high heat. Heat distillation removes water vapour and volatile ...
, a natural black pigment made by burning animal bones. File:Oak apple.jpg, The
oak apple An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus ''Quercus'' (; Latin "oak tree") of the beech family, Fagaceae. There are approximately list of Quercus species, 500 extant species of oaks. The common name "oak" also appears in the names of species in rel ...

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. File:Noir de fumee.jpg, The industrial production of
lamp black Carbon black (subtypes are acetylene black, channel black, furnace black, lamp black and thermal black) is a material produced by the incomplete combustion of heavy petroleum Petroleum (), also known as crude oil and oil, is a #Latent heat o ...
, made by producing, collecting and refining soot, in 1906.


Astronomy

* A is a region of
spacetime In physics, spacetime is any mathematical model which fuses the three-dimensional space, three dimensions of space and the one dimension of time into a single four-dimensional manifold. Minkowski diagram, Spacetime diagrams can be used to visuali ...
where gravity prevents anything, including
light Light or visible light is electromagnetic radiation within the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that is visual perception, perceived by the human eye. Visible light is usually defined as having wavelengths in the range of 400–700 nan ...

light
, from escaping. The theory of
general relativity General relativity, also known as the general theory of relativity, is the geometric Geometry (from the grc, γεωμετρία; '' geo-'' "earth", '' -metron'' "measurement") is, with arithmetic, one of the oldest branches of mathema ...
predicts that a sufficiently compact
mass Mass is the quantity Quantity is a property that can exist as a multitude or magnitude, which illustrate discontinuity and continuity. Quantities can be compared in terms of "more", "less", or "equal", or by assigning a numerical value ...
will deform spacetime to form a black hole. Around a black hole there is a mathematically defined surface called an
event horizon In astrophysics, an event horizon is a boundary beyond which events cannot affect an observer. The term was coined by Wolfgang Rindler Wolfgang Rindler (18 May 1924 – 8 February 2019) was a physicist working in the field of general relativity ...
that marks the point of no return. It is called "black" because it absorbs all the light that hits the horizon, reflecting nothing, just like a perfect
black body A black body or blackbody is an idealized physical object, physical body that absorption (electromagnetic radiation), absorbs all incident electromagnetic radiation, regardless of frequency or angle of incidence (optics), angle of incidence. The ...

black body
in
thermodynamics Thermodynamics is a branch of physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge which relates to the order of nature, or, in ot ...

thermodynamics
. Black holes of stellar mass are expected to form when very massive stars collapse at the end of their life cycle. After a black hole has formed it can continue to grow by absorbing mass from its surroundings. By absorbing other stars and merging with other black holes,
supermassive black hole A supermassive black hole (SMBH or sometimes SBH) is the largest type of black hole, with mass Mass is the quantity Quantity is a property that can exist as a multitude or magnitude, which illustrate discontinuity and continuity. ...

supermassive black hole
s of millions of solar masses may form. There is general consensus that supermassive black holes exist in the centers of most
galaxies A galaxy is a gravitationally bound system of star A star is an astronomical object consisting of a luminous spheroid of plasma (physics), plasma held together by its own gravity. The List of nearest stars and brown dwarfs, nearest star to ...

galaxies
. Although a black hole itself is black, infalling material forms an
accretion disk An accretion disk is a structure (often a ) formed by diffuse material in al motion around a massive . The central body is typically a . causes orbiting material in the disk to spiral inward towards the central body. Gravitational and frictional ...

accretion disk
, which is one of brightest types of object in the universe. *
Black-body radiation Black-body radiation is the within or surrounding a body in with its environment, emitted by a (an idealized opaque, non-reflective body). It has a specific spectrum of wavelengths, inversely related to intensity that depend only on the bod ...
refers to the radiation coming from a body at a given temperature where all incoming energy (light) is converted to heat. * Black sky refers to the appearance of space as one emerges from Earth's atmosphere. File:NGC 406 Hubble WikiSky.jpg, Image of the NGC 406 galaxy from the Hubble Space Telescope File:Spirit Rover-Mars Night Sky.jpg, The night sky seen from Mars, with the two moons of Mars visible, taken by the NASA Spirit Rover. File:Top of Atmosphere.jpg, Outside Earth's atmosphere, the sky is black day and night. File:Olber's Paradox - All Points.gif, An illustration of
Olbers' paradox In astrophysics Astrophysics is a science that employs the methods and principles of physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is the natu ...

Olbers' paradox
(see below) File:BH LMC.png, Simulated view of a black hole in front of the Large Magellanic Cloud.


Why the night sky and space are black – Olbers' paradox

The fact that
outer space Outer space, commonly shortened to space, is the expanse that exists beyond Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting ...
is black is sometimes called
Olbers' paradox In astrophysics Astrophysics is a science that employs the methods and principles of physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is the natu ...

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 Heinrich Wilhelm Matthias Olbers (; ; 11 October 1758 – 2 March 1840) was a German physician A physician (American English), medical practitioner (English in the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth English), medical doctor, or simply d ...

Heinrich Wilhelm Matthias Olbers
, who posed the question of why the night sky was black. The current accepted answer is that, although the universe may be 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 The Doppler effect or Doppler shift (or simply Doppler, when in context) is the change in frequency Frequency is the number of occurrences of a repeating event per unit of time A unit of time is any particular time Time is 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. 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 Rayleigh scattering ( ), named after the nineteenth-century British physicist Lord Rayleigh (John William Strutt), is the predominantly elastic scattering of light or other electromagnetic radiation by particles much smaller than the wavelength o ...

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 virtually 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, such as
Mercury Mercury usually refers to: * Mercury (planet) Mercury is the smallest planet in the Solar System and the closest to the Sun. Its orbit around the Sun takes 87.97 Earth days, the shortest of all the Sun's planets. It is named after the Roman g ...

Mercury
.


Biology

File:Corvus brachyrhynchos 30196.JPG, The American
crow A crow is a bird of the genus ''Corvus ''Corvus'' is a widely distributed genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of extant taxon, living and fossil organisms ...

crow
is one of the most intelligent of all animals. File:01 Schwarzbär.jpg, American black bear (Ursus americanus) near Riding Mountain Park, Manitoba, Canada File:Dendroaspis polylepis by Bill Love.jpg, The
black mamba The black mamba (''Dendroaspis polylepis'') is a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often def ...

black mamba
of Africa is one of the most venomous snakes, as well as the fastest-moving snake in the world. File:Black Widow 11-06.jpg , The black widow spider, or
latrodectus ''Latrodectus'' is a broadly distributed genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of naming, defining (Circumscrip ...

latrodectus
, 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. File:Blackleopard.JPG, A
black panther A black panther is the melanistic colour variant of the leopard The leopard (''Panthera pardus'') is one of the five extant species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic ...

black panther
is actually a
melanistic The term melanism refers to black pigment and is derived from the gr, μελανός. Melanism is the increased development of the dark-colored pigment A pigment is a colored material that is completely or nearly insoluble in water. In contr ...
leopard The leopard (''Panthera pardus'') is one of the five extant species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is ...

leopard
or
jaguar The jaguar (''Panthera onca'') is a large felidae, cat species and the only extant taxon, living member of the genus ''Panthera'' native to the Americas. With a body length of up to and a weight of up to , it is the largest cat species in t ...

jaguar
, the result of an excess of
melanin Melanin (; from el, μέλας ''melas'', "black, dark") is a broad term for a group of natural pigments found in most organisms. Melanin is produced through a multistage chemical process known as melanogenesis, where the oxidation of the ami ...

melanin
in their skin caused by a
recessive In genetics Genetics is a branch of biology concerned with the study of genes, genetic variation, and heredity in organisms.Hartl D, Jones E (2005) Though heredity had been observed for millennia, Gregor Mendel, Moravia, Moravian scientist ...
gene.


Culture

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 Qin Shi Huang (, ; 259–210 BCE), or Shihuangdi, was the founder of the Qin dynasty, and first Emperor of China, emperor of a unified China. Rather than maintain the title of "Chinese king, king" ( ''wáng'') borne by the previous Shang dyna ...
seized power from the
Zhou Dynasty The Zhou dynasty ( ; Old Chinese Old Chinese, also called Archaic Chinese in older works, is the oldest attested stage of Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China ...
, he changed the Imperial color from red to black, saying that black extinguished red. Only when the
Han Dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...

Han Dynasty
appeared in 206 BC was red restored as the imperial color. In Japan, black is associated with mystery, the night, the unknown, the supernatural, the invisible and death. Combined with white, it can symbolize intuition. In 10th and 11th century Japan, 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. In Japan black can also symbolize experience, as opposed to white, which symbolizes naiveté. The black belt in martial arts symbolizes experience, while a white belt is worn by novices. 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.


Political movements

Anarchism Anarchism is a political philosophy Political philosophy or political theory is the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, existence, knowledge ...

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 The International Workingmen's Association (IWA), often called the First International (1864–1876), was an international organisation ''International Organization'' is a quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal that covers the entire field ...
. 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.Michael Schmidt and
Lucien van der Walt Lucien van der Walt (born 8 September 1972) is a South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. With over Demographics of South Africa, 59 million people, it is the wor ...
, '' Black Flame: The Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism''. (Oakland and Edinburgh:
AK Press AK Press is a workers' self-management, worker-managed, independent publisher and book distributor that specialises in Far-left politics, radical left and anarchist literature. Operated out of Chico, California, the company is co-op, collective ...

AK Press
, 2009), pp. 33–54.
The Black Army was a collection of anarchist military units which fought in the
Russian Civil War , date = October Revolution, 7 November 1917 – Yakut revolt, 16 June 1923{{Efn, The main phase ended on 25 October 1922. Revolt against the Bolsheviks continued Basmachi movement, in Central Asia and Tungus Republic, the Far East th ...
, sometimes on the side of the Bolshevik
Red Army The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army,) frequently shortened to Red Army, was the army and air force of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic The Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (Russian SFSR or RSFSR; rus, links= ...
, and sometimes for the opposing
White Army The White Army or White Armies, also known as the White Guard (Бѣлая Гвардія/Белая Гвардия, ''Belaya Gvardiya''), Whites, or White Guardsmen (Бѣлогвардейцы/Белогвардейцы, ''Belogvardeytsi''), wa ...
. It was officially known as the
Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine The Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine ( uk, Революційна Повстанська Армія України), also known as the Black Army, or as Makhnovtsi ( uk, Махновці), after their leader Nestor Makhno Nestor I ...
, and it was under the command of the famous anarchist
Nestor Makhno Nestor Ivanovych Makhno ( uk, Не́стор Івáнович Махно́, ; – July 25, 1934), commonly known as Bat'ko Makhno ( uk, батько Махно; , "Father Makhno"), was a Ukrainian anarchist Anarchism is a political phil ...

Nestor Makhno
. Fascism. The
Blackshirts The Voluntary Militia for National Security ( it, Milizia Volontaria per la Sicurezza Nazionale, MVSN), commonly called the Blackshirts ( it, Camicie Nere, CCNN, singular: ''Camicia Nera'') or squadristi (singular: squadrista), was originally ...
( it, camicie nere, 'CCNN) were
Fascist Fascism () is a form of far-right Far-right politics, also referred to as the extreme right or right-wing extremism, are politics further on the right of the left–right political spectrum than the standard political right, particular ...
paramilitary A paramilitary organization is a semi-militarized force whose organizational structure, tactics, training, subculture, and (often) function are similar to those of a professional military A military, also known collectively as armed f ...
groups in
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps The Alps ; german: Alpen ; it, Alpi ; rm, Alps; sl, Alpe ) are the highest ...
during the period immediately following
World War I World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war engaged in by all or most of the principal nations of the world". The term is usually reserved for ...

World War I
and until the end of
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
. The Blackshirts were officially known as the Voluntary Militia for National Security (''Milizia Volontaria per la Sicurezza Nazionale'', or MVSN). Inspired by the black uniforms of the
Arditi Arditi (from the Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic ** Italian language, a Romance language *** Regional Itali ...
, Italy's elite storm troops of World War I, the Fascist Blackshirts were organized by as the military tool of his political movement.Bosworth, R. J. B, ''Mussolini's Italy: Life Under the Fascist Dictatorship, 1915–1945'', Penguin Books, 2005, p. 117. They used violence and intimidation against Mussolini's opponents. The emblem of the Italian fascists was a black flag with
fasces Fasces ( ; ; a ''plurale tantum A ''plurale tantum'' (Latin for "plural only"; ) is a noun that appears only in the plural The plural (sometimes abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a ...

fasces
, an axe in a bundle of sticks, an ancient Roman symbol of authority. Mussolini came to power in 1922 through his
March on Rome The March on Rome ( it, Marcia su Roma) was an organized mass demonstration in October 1922 which resulted in Benito Mussolini's National Fascist Party (PNF) ascending to power in the Kingdom of Italy The Kingdom of Italy ( it, Regno d'Itali ...

March on Rome
with the blackshirts. Black was also adopted by
Adolf Hitler Adolf Hitler (; 20 April 188930 April 1945) was an Austrian-born German politician who was the dictator of Nazi Germany, Germany from 1933 to 1945. Adolf Hitler's rise to power, He rose to power as the leader of the Nazi Party, becoming Cha ...

Adolf Hitler
and the
Nazis Nazism (), officially National Socialism (german: Nationalsozialismus; ), is the ideology and practices associated with Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party (german: link=no, Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, NSDAP, or National Socia ...

Nazis
in Germany. Red, white and black were the colors of the flag of the German Empire from 1870 to 1918. In ''
Mein Kampf (; ''My Struggle'') is a 1925 autobiographical manifesto by Nazi Party The Nazi Party, officially the National Socialist German Workers' Party (german: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or NSDAP), was a political pa ...
'', Hitler explained that they were "revered colors expressive of our homage to the glorious past." Hitler also wrote that "the new flag ... should prove effective as a large poster" because "in hundreds of thousands of cases a really striking emblem may be the first cause of awakening interest in a movement." The black
swastika The swastika symbol, 卐 (''right-facing'' or ''clockwise'') or 卍 (''left-facing'', ''counterclockwise'', or sauwastika), is an ancient religious icon An icon (from the Greek language, Greek 'image, resemblance') is a religious work ...

swastika
was meant to symbolize the
Aryan Aryan or Arya (, Indo-Iranian *''arya'') is a term originally used as an ethnocultural An ethnoreligious group (or ethno-religious group) is an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identify with each othe ...

Aryan
race, which, according to the Nazis, "was always anti-Semitic and will always be anti-Semitic." Several designs by a number of different authors were considered, but the one adopted in the end was Hitler's personal design. Black became the color of the uniform of the , the ''Schutzstaffel'' or "defense corps", the paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party, and was worn by SS officers from 1932 until the end of World War II. The Nazis used a black triangle to symbolize anti-social elements. The symbol originates from
Nazi concentration camp From 1933 to 1945, Nazi Germany operated more than a thousand concentration camps, (officially) or (more commonly). The Nazi concentration camps are distinguished from other types of Nazi camps such as forced-labor camps, as well as concent ...
s, where every prisoner had to wear one of the
Nazi concentration camp badges Nazi concentration camp badges, primarily triangles, were part of the system of identification in German camps. They were used in the concentration camps Internment is the imprisonment of people, commonly in large groups, without charges or ...
on their jacket, the color of which categorized them according to "their kind." Many Black Triangle prisoners were either mentally disabled or mentally ill. The homeless were also included, as were alcoholics, the
Romani people The Romani (also spelled Romany , ), colloquially known as Roma, are an Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan refers to: * Indo-Aryan languages ** Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni or Mitanni-Aryan * Indo-Aryan peoples, the various peoples speaking these ...

Romani people
, the habitually "work-shy," prostitutes, draft dodgers and pacifists. More recently the black triangle has been adopted as a symbol in
lesbian culture A lesbian is a Homosexuality, homosexual woman.Zimmerman, p. 453. The word ''lesbian'' is also used for women in relation to their sexual identity or sexual behavior, regardless of sexual orientation, or as an adjective to characterize or a ...
and by disabled activists. Black shirts were also worn by the
British Union of Fascists The British Union of Fascists (BUF) was a British fascist political party A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is common for the members of a party to hold s ...
before World War II, and members of fascist movements in the Netherlands. Patriotic resistance. The
Lützow Free Corps Lützow Free Corps ( ) was a volunteer force of the Prussian army during the Napoleonic Wars. It was named after its commander, Ludwig Adolf Wilhelm von Lützow. The Corpsmen were also widely known as the “''Lützower Jäger (military), Jäger'' ...
, composed of volunteer German students and academics fighting against
Napoleon Napoléon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a French military and political leader. He rose to prominence during the French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) refers to the period that began with the Estates General o ...

Napoleon
in 1813, could not afford to make special uniforms and therefore adopted black, as the only color that could be used to dye their civilian clothing without the original color showing. In 1815 the students began to carry a red, black and gold flag, which they believed (incorrectly) had been the colors of the Holy Roman Empire (the imperial flag had actually been gold and black). In 1848, this banner became the flag of the
German confederation The German Confederation (german: Deutscher Bund) was an association of 39 predominantly German-speaking sovereign states in Central Europe, created by the Congress of Vienna in 1815 as a replacement of the former Holy Roman Empire, which had ...

German confederation
. In 1866,
Prussia Prussia, , Old Prussian Distribution of the Baltic tribes, circa 1200 CE (boundaries are approximate). Old Prussian was a Western Baltic language belonging to the Balto-Slavic branch of the Indo-European languages The Indo-Europ ...

Prussia
unified Germany under its rule, and imposed the red, white and black of its own flag, which remained the colors of the German flag until the end of the Second World War. In 1949 the Federal Republic of Germany returned to the original flag and colors of the students and professors of 1815, which is the flag of Germany today. Islamism. The
Black Standard The Black Banner or Black Standard ( ar, الراية السوداء ''ar-rāyat as-sawdāʾ'', also known as ''rāyat al-ʻuqāb'' "wikt:راية#Arabic, banner of the wikt:عقاب#Arabic, eagle" or simply as ' "the banner") is one of the ...
( , also known as "
banner A banner can be a flag A flag is a piece of fabric A textile is a flexible material made by creating an interlocking network of yarn Yarn is a long continuous length of interlocked fibres, suitable for use in the production of ...
of the :wikt:عقاب#Arabic, eagle" or simply as "the banner") is the historical flag flown by
Muhammad Muhammad ibn AbdullahHe is referred to by many appellations, including Messenger of Allah, The Prophet Muhammad, Allah's Apostle, Last Prophet of Islam, and others; there are also many variant spellings of Muhammad, such as Mohamet, Mohammed, ...

Muhammad
in hadith, Islamic tradition, an eschatology, eschatological symbol in Shi'a Islam (heralding the advent of the Mahdi), from Majlisi. and a symbol used in Islamism and Jihadism. File:Махновское_знамя.svg, A flag used by the anarchist Black Army during the
Russian Civil War , date = October Revolution, 7 November 1917 – Yakut revolt, 16 June 1923{{Efn, The main phase ended on 25 October 1922. Revolt against the Bolsheviks continued Basmachi movement, in Central Asia and Tungus Republic, the Far East th ...
. It says, "Power begets parasites. Long live Anarchy!" File:March on Rome.jpg, and his blackshirt followers during his
March on Rome The March on Rome ( it, Marcia su Roma) was an organized mass demonstration in October 1922 which resulted in Benito Mussolini's National Fascist Party (PNF) ascending to power in the Kingdom of Italy The Kingdom of Italy ( it, Regno d'Itali ...

March on Rome
in 1922. File:Bundesarchiv Bild 183-R99621, Heinrich Himmler.jpg, Black uniform of Heinrich Himmler, head of the , the military wing of the Nazi Party (1938). File:AQMI_Flag_asymmetric.svg, The flag used by Islamic_State_of_Iraq_and_the_Levant, ISIL (also called ISIS), Boko Haram, and other groups. Similar Black Standard, Black Standards are used by Islamists and Jihadists across the Muslim world.


Military

Black has been a traditional color of cavalry and armoured or mechanized troops. German armoured troops (Panzerwaffe) traditionally wore black uniforms, and even in others, a black beret is common. In Finland, black is the symbolic color for both armoured troops and combat engineers, and military units of these specialities have black flags and unit insignia. The black beret and the color black is also a symbol of special forces in many countries. Soviet and Russian OMON special police and Naval Infantry (Russia), Russian naval infantry wear a black beret. A black beret is also worn by military police in the Canadian, Czech, Croatian, Portuguese, Spanish and Serbian armies. The silver-on-black skull and crossbones symbol or Totenkopf and a black uniform were used by Hussars and Black Brunswickers, the German Panzerwaffe and the Nazi Schutzstaffel, and U.S. 400th Missile Squadron (crossed missiles), and continues in use with the Estonian Kuperjanov Battalion.


Religion

In Christianity, Christian theology, black was the color of the universe before God created light. In many religious cultures, from Mesoamerica to Oceania to India and Japan, the world was created out of a primordial darkness. In the Bible the light of faith and Christianity is often contrasted with the darkness of ignorance and paganism. In Christianity, the Devil in Christianity, devil is often called the "prince of darkness." The term was used in John Milton's poem ''Paradise Lost'', published in 1667, referring to Satan, who is viewed as the embodiment of evil. It is an English translation of the Latin phrase ''princeps tenebrarum'', which occurs in the ''Acts of Pilate'', written in the fourth century, in the 11th-century hymn ''Rhythmus de die mortis'' by Pietro Damiani, and in a sermon by
Bernard of Clairvaux Bernard of Clairvaux ( la, Bernardus Claraevallensis; 109020 August 1153), venerated as Saint Bernard, was a Burgundian abbot Abbot (from Aramaic Aramaic (: ''Arāmāyā''; : ; : ; ) is a language that originated among the in the ...

Bernard of Clairvaux
from the 12th century. The phrase also occurs in ''King Lear'' by William Shakespeare (c. 1606), Act III, Scene IV, l. 14: 'The prince of darkness is a gentleman." Priests and pastors of the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Protestant churches commonly wear black, as do monks of the
Benedictine Order The Benedictines, officially the Order of Saint Benedict ( la, Ordo Sancti Benedicti, abbreviated as OSB), are a Christian monasticism, monastic Religious order (Catholic), religious order of the Catholic Church following the Rule of Saint Ben ...
, who consider it the color of humility and penitence. * In Islam, black, along with green, plays an important symbolic role. It is the color of the
Black Standard The Black Banner or Black Standard ( ar, الراية السوداء ''ar-rāyat as-sawdāʾ'', also known as ''rāyat al-ʻuqāb'' "wikt:راية#Arabic, banner of the wikt:عقاب#Arabic, eagle" or simply as ' "the banner") is one of the ...
, the banner that is said to have been carried by the soldiers of
Muhammad Muhammad ibn AbdullahHe is referred to by many appellations, including Messenger of Allah, The Prophet Muhammad, Allah's Apostle, Last Prophet of Islam, and others; there are also many variant spellings of Muhammad, such as Mohamet, Mohammed, ...

Muhammad
. It is also used as a symbol in Shi'a Islam (heralding the advent of the Mahdi), and the flag of followers of Islamism and Jihadism. * In Hinduism, the goddess Kali, goddess of time and change, is portrayed with black or dark blue skin. wearing a necklace adorned with severed heads and hands. Her name means "The black one". She destroys anger and passion according to Hindu mythology and her devotees are supposed to abstain from meat or intoxication. Kali does not eat meat, but it is the śāstra's injunction that those who are unable to give up meat-eating, they may sacrifice one goat, not cow, one small animal before the goddess Kali, on amāvāsya (new moon) day, night, not day, and they can eat it. *In Paganism, black represents dignity, force, stability, and protection. The color is often used to banish and release negative energies, or binding.


Sports

* The national rugby union team of New Zealand is called the ''New Zealand national rugby union team, All Blacks'', in reference to their black outfits, and the color is also shared by other New Zealand national teams such as the Black Caps (cricket) and the Kiwis (rugby league), Kiwis (rugby league). * Referee (association football), Association football (soccer) referees traditionally wear all-black uniforms, however nowadays other uniform colors may also be worn. * In auto racing, a Racing flags, black flag signals a driver to go into the pits. * In baseball, "the black" refers to the batter's eye, a blacked out area around the center-field bleachers, painted black to give hitters a decent background for pitched balls. * A large number of teams have uniforms designed with black colors—many feeling the color sometimes imparts a psychological advantage in its wearers. Black is used by numerous professional and college athletics, collegiate sports teams


Idioms and expressions

* In the United States, "Black Friday (shopping), Black Friday" (the day after Thanksgiving Day, the fourth Thursday in November) is traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year. Many Americans are on holiday because of Thanksgiving, and many retailers open earlier and close later than normal, and offer special prices. The day's name originated in Philadelphia sometime before 1961, and originally was used to describe the heavy and disruptive downtown pedestrian and vehicle traffic which would occur on that day.Ben Zimmer
The Origins of "Black Friday,"
''Word Routes'' (November 25, 2011).
Martin L. Apfelbaum, Philadelphia's "Black Friday,"
''American Philatelist'', vol. 69, no. 4, p. 239 (January 1966).
Later an alternative explanation began to be offered: that "Black Friday" indicates the point in the year that retailers begin to turn a profit, or are "in the black", because of the large volume of sales on that day. * "In the black" means profitable. Accountants originally used black ink in ledgers to indicate profit, and red ink to indicate a loss. * List of Black Fridays, Black Friday also refers to any particularly disastrous day on financial markets. The first Black Friday (1869), September 24, 1869, was caused by the efforts of two speculators, Jay Gould and James Fisk (financier), James Fisk, to corner the gold market on the New York Gold Exchange. * A blacklist is a list of undesirable persons or entities (to be placed on the list is to be "blacklisted"). * Black comedy is a form of comedy dealing with morbid and serious topics. The expression is similar to black humor or black humour. * A black mark against a person relates to something bad they have done. * A black mood is a bad one (cf Winston Churchill's clinical depression, which he called "my black dog"). * Black market is used to denote the trade of illegal goods, or alternatively the illegal trade of otherwise legal items at considerably higher prices, e.g. to evade rationing. * Black propaganda is the use of known falsehoods, partial truths, or masquerades in propaganda to confuse an opponent. * Blackmail is the act of threatening someone to do something that would hurt them in some way, such as by revealing sensitive information about them, in order to force the threatened party to fulfill certain demands. Ordinarily, such a threat is illegal. * If the black eight-ball, in billiards, is sunk before all others are out of play, the player loses. * The black sheep of the family is the ne'er-do-well. * To Blackball (blacklist), blackball someone is to block their entry into a club or some such institution. In the traditional English gentlemen's club, members vote on the admission of a candidate by secretly placing a white or black ball in a hat. If upon the completion of voting, there was even one black ball amongst the white, the candidate would be denied membership, and he would never know who had "blackballed" him. * Black tea in the Western culture is known as "crimson tea" in Chinese and Chinese culture, culturally influenced languages (:zh:紅, 紅 :zh:茶, 茶, Standard Chinese, Mandarin Chinese ''hóngchá''; Japanese ''kōcha''; Korean ''hongcha''). * "The black" is a wildfire suppression term referring to a burned area on a wildfire capable of acting as a safety zone. * Black coffee refers to coffee without sugar or cream.


Associations and symbolism


Mourning

In Europe and America, black is commonly associated with mourning and bereavement, and usually worn at funerals and memorial services. In some traditional societies, for example in Greece and Italy, some widows wear black for the rest of their lives. In contrast, across much of Africa and parts of Asia like Vietnam, white is a color of mourning. In Victorian England, the colors and fabrics of mourning were specified in an unofficial mourning dress, dress code: "non-reflective black paramatta and crape for the first year of deepest mourning, followed by nine months of dullish black silk, heavily trimmed with crape, and then three months when crape was discarded. Paramatta was a fabric of combined silk and wool or cotton; crape was a harsh black silk fabric with a crimped appearance produced by heat. Widows were allowed to change into the colors of half-mourning, such as gray and lavender, black and white, for the final six months." A "black day" (or week or month) usually refers to tragic date. The Ancient Rome, Romans marked ''fasti'' days with white stones and ''nefasti'' days with black. The term is often used to remember massacres. Black months include the Black September in Jordan, when large numbers of Palestinians were killed, and Black July in Sri Lanka, the killing of members of the Tamil people, Tamil population by the Sinhalese people, Sinhalese government. In the financial world, the term often refers to a dramatic drop in the stock market. For example, the Wall Street Crash of 1929, the stock market crash on October 29, 1929, which marked the start of the Great Depression, is nicknamed Black Tuesday, and was preceded by Black Thursday, a downturn on October 24 the previous week. File:The Dowager Electress Palatine in mourning.jpg, Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici, The dowager Electress of Palatine in mourning (1717) File:Pedro II of Brazil and his sisters.jpg, Emperor Pedro II of Brazil and his sisters wearing mourning clothes due to their Pedro I of Brazil, father's death (1834) File:Queen Victoria by Heinrich von Angeli.jpg, Queen Victoria wore black in mourning for her husband Prince Albert (1899)


Darkness and evil

In western popular culture, black has long been associated with
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and darkness. It is the traditional color of
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witchcraft
and black magic. In the Book of Revelation, the last book in the New Testament of the Bible, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are supposed to announce the Apocalypse before the Last Judgment. The horseman representing famine rides a black horse. The vampire of literature and films, such as Count Dracula of the Bram Stoker novel, dressed in black, and could only move at night. The Wicked Witch of the West in the 1939 film ''The Wizard of Oz (1939 film), The Wizard of Oz'' became the archetype of witches for generations of children. Whereas witches and sorcerers inspired real fear in the 17th century, in the 21st century children and adults dressed as witches for Halloween parties and parades. File:Apocalypse vasnetsov.jpg, The biblical Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, including famine riding a black horse (painting by Viktor Vasnetsov, 1887) File:The Goblins' Christmas, 28.JPG, Drawing of a witch from the illustrated book ''The Goblins' Christmas'' by Elizabeth Anderson (1908) File:Bela lugosi dracula.jpg, Count Dracula as portrayed by Bela Lugosi in the 1931 film version File:NOLAHalloween2007CtinaWitchClarinet.jpg, Clarinet-playing witch in a New Orleans Halloween parade


Power, authority and solemnity

Black is frequently used as a color of power, law and authority. In many countries judges and magistrates wear black robes. That custom began in Europe in the 13th and 14th centuries. Jurists, magistrates and certain other court officials in France began to wear long black robes during the reign of Philip IV of France (1285–1314), and in England from the time of Edward I (1271–1307). The custom spread to the cities of Italy at about the same time, between 1300 and 1320. The robes of judges resembled those worn by the clergy, and represented the law and authority of the King, while those of the clergy represented the law of God and authority of the church. Until the 20th century most police uniforms were black, until they were largely replaced by a less menacing blue in France, the U.S. and other countries. In the United States, police cars are frequently black and white (police vehicle), Black and white. The riot control units of the Basque Autonomous Police in Spain are known as ''beltzak'' ("blacks") after their uniform. Black today is the most common color for limousines and the official cars of government officials. Black formal attire is still worn at many solemn occasions or ceremonies, from graduations to formal balls. Graduation gowns are copied from the gowns worn by university professors in the Middle Ages, which in turn were copied from the robes worn by judges and priests, who often taught at the early universities. The mortarboard hat worn by graduates is adapted from a square cap called a biretta worn by Medieval professors and clerics. File:Supreme Court US 2009.jpg, The United States Supreme Court (2009) File:ICJ-CJI hearing 1.jpg, Judges at the International Court of Justice in the Hague File:LAPD Police Car.jpg, A police car of the Los Angeles Police Department File:Jacob1207b.JPG, American academic dress for a bachelor's degree


Functionality

In the 19th and 20th centuries, many machines and devices, large and small, were painted black, to stress their functionality. These included telephones, sewing machines, steamships, railroad locomotives, and automobiles. The Ford Model T, the first mass-produced car, was available only in black from 1914 to 1926. Of means of transportation, only airplanes were rarely ever painted black. File:Alt Telefon.jpg, Olivetti telephone from the 1940s File:1920 Ford Model T Centerdoor Sedan 2.jpg, A 1920 Ford Model T File:Collection of old phones and PDA-BlackBerry.jpg, The first model BlackBerry (2000) Black house paint is becoming more popular with Sherwin-Williams reporting that the color, Tricorn Black, was the 6th most popular exterior house paint color in Canada and the 12th most popular paint in the United States in 2018.


Ethnography

* The term "black" is often used in the West to describe people whose skin is darker. In the United States, it is particularly used to describe
African Americans African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans or Afro-Americans) are an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being t ...
. The terms for African Americans have changed over the years, as shown by the categories in the United States Census, taken every ten years. * In the first U.S. Census, taken in 1790, just four categories were used: Free White males, Free White females, other free persons, and slaves. * In the 1820 census the new category "colored" was added. * In the 1850 census, slaves were listed by owner, and a B indicated black, while an M indicated "mulatto." * In the 1890 census, the categories for race were white, black, mulatto, quadroon (a person one-quarter black); octoroon (a person one-eighth black), Chinese, Japanese, or American Indian. * In the 1930 census, anyone with any black blood was supposed to be listed as "Negro." * In the 1970 census, the category "Negro or black" was used for the first time. * In the 2000 and 2012 census, the category "Black or African-American" was used, defined as "a person having their origin in any of the racial groups in Africa." In the 2012 Census 12.1 percent of Americans identified themselves as Black or African-American. Black is also commonly used as a racial description in the United Kingdom, since ethnicity was first measured in the 2001 census. The 2011 British census asked residents to describe themselves, and categories offered included Black, African, Caribbean, or Black British. Other possible categories were African British, African Scottish, Caribbean British and Caribbean Scottish. Of the total UK population in 2001, 1.0 percent identified themselves as Black Caribbean, 0.8 percent as Black African, and 0.2 percent as Black (others). In Canada, census respondents can identify themselves as Black. In the 2006 census, 2.5 percent of the population identified themselves as black. In Australia, the term black is not used in the census. In the 2006 census, 2.3 percent of Australians identified themselves as Aboriginal Australians, Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders. In Brazil, the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) asks people to identify themselves as ''branco'' (white), ''pardo'' (brown), ''preto'' (black), or ''amarelo'' (yellow). In 2008 6.8 percent of the population identified themselves as "preto".


Opposite of white

* Black and white have often been used to describe opposites; particularly light and darkness and good and evil. In Medieval literature, the knight (stock character), white knight usually represented virtue, the
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black knight
something mysterious and sinister. In American westerns, the hero often wore a white hat, the villain a black hat. * In the original game of chess invented in Persia or India, the colors of the two sides were varied; a 12th-century Iranian chess set in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, has red and green pieces. But when the game was imported into Europe, the colors, corresponding to European culture, usually became black and white. * Studies have shown that something printed in black letters on white has more authority with readers than any other color of printing. * In philosophy and arguments, the issue is often described as black-and-white, meaning that the issue at hand is dichotomy, dichotomized (having two clear, opposing sides with no middle ground). File:Lone ranger silver 1965.JPG, Heroes in American westerns, like the Lone Ranger, traditionally wore a white hat, while the villains wore black hats.


Conspiracy

Black is commonly associated with secrecy. * The Black Chamber was a term given to an office which secretly opened and read diplomatic mail and broke codes. Queen Elizabeth I had such an office, headed by her Secretary, Sir Francis Walsingham, which successfully broke the Spanish codes and broke up several plots against the Queen. In France a ''cabinet noir'' was established inside the French post office by Louis XIII to open diplomatic mail. It was closed during the
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French Revolution
but re-opened under Napoleon I. The Habsburg Monarchy, Habsburg Empire and Dutch Republic had similar black chambers. * The United States created a secret peacetime Black Chamber, called the Cipher Bureau, in 1919. It was funded by the State Department and Army and disguised as a commercial company in New York. It successfully broke a number of diplomatic codes, including the code of the Japanese government. It was closed down in 1929 after the State Department withdrew funding, when the new Secretary of State, Henry Stimson, stated that "Gentlemen do not read each other's mail." The Cipher Bureau was the ancestor of the U.S. National Security Agency. * A ''black project'' is a secret military project, such as Enigma machine, Enigma Decryption during World War II, or a secret counter-narcotics or police sting operation. * Black ops are covert operations carried out by a government, government agency or military. * A black budget is a government budget that is allocated for classified or other secret operations of a nation. The black budget is an account expenses and spending related to military research and covert operations. The black budget is mostly classified due to security reasons.


Elegant fashion

Black is the color most commonly associated with elegance in Europe and the United States, followed by silver, gold, and white.Eva Heller, ''Psychologie de la couleur, effets et symboliques'', p. 119. Black first became a fashionable color for men in Europe in the 17th century, in the courts of Italy and Spain. (See history above.) In the 19th century, it was the fashion for men both in business and for evening wear, in the form of a black coat whose tails came down the knees. In the evening it was the custom of the men to leave the women after dinner to go to a special smoking room to enjoy cigars or cigarettes. This meant that their tailcoats eventually smelled of tobacco. According to the legend, in 1865 Edward VII, then the Prince of Wales, had his tailor make a special short smoking jacket. The smoking jacket then evolved into the dinner jacket. Again according to legend, the first Americans to wear the jacket were members of the Tuxedo Club in New York State. Thereafter the jacket became known as a tuxedo in the U.S. The term "smoking" is still used today in Russia and other countries. Stefano Zuffi, ''Color in Art'', p. 308. The tuxedo was always black until the 1930s, when the Duke of Windsor began to wear a tuxedo that was a very dark midnight blue. He did so because a black tuxedo looked greenish in artificial light, while a dark blue tuxedo looked blacker than black itself. For women's fashion, the defining moment was the invention of the little black dress, simple black dress by
Coco Chanel Gabrielle Bonheur "Coco" Chanel ( ; 19 August 1883 – 10 January 1971) was a French fashion designer and businesswoman. The founder and namesake of the Chanel Chanel (, ) is a French language, French luxury fashion house that was founded ...
in 1926. (See history.) Thereafter, a long black gown was used for formal occasions, while the simple black dress could be used for everything else. The designer Karl Lagerfeld, explaining why black was so popular, said: "Black is the color that goes with everything. If you're wearing black, you're on sure ground." Skirts have gone up and down and fashions have changed, but the black dress has not lost its position as the essential element of a woman's wardrobe. The fashion designer Christian Dior said, "elegance is a combination of distinction, naturalness, care and simplicity," and black exemplified elegance. The expression "X is the new black" is a reference to the latest trend or fad that is considered a wardrobe basic for the duration of the trend, on the basis that black is always fashionable. The phrase has taken on a life of its own and has become a cliché. Many performers of both popular and European classical music, including French singers Edith Piaf and , and violinist Joshua Bell have traditionally worn black on stage during performances. A black costume was usually chosen as part of their image or stage persona, or because it did not distract from the music, or sometimes for a political reason. Country-western singer Johnny Cash always wore black on stage. In 1971, Cash wrote the song "Man in Black (song), Man in Black" to explain why he dressed in that color: "We're doing mighty fine I do suppose / In our streak of lightning cars and fancy clothes / But just so we're reminded of the ones who are held back / Up front there ought to be a man in black." File:Anneke Grönloh 1964 Eurovision dress.jpg, A
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little black dress
from 1964 File:The Duke of Windsor (1970).jpg, The Duke of Windsor was the first to wear midnight blue rather than black evening dress, which looked blacker than black in artificial light. File:Edith Piaf zingt in ons land, Bestanddeelnr 914-6438.jpg, French singer Edith Piaf always wore black on stage. File:Johnny-Cash 1972.jpg, Country-western singer Johnny Cash called himself "the man in black." Image of his performance in Bremen, Northern Germany, in September 1972. File:Joshua Bell Indiana University cropped.jpg, American violinist Joshua Bell wears black on stage. File:Fabiana Semprebom1.jpg, Model Fabiana Semprebom at New York Fashion Week, 2006


See also

* Black Rose (disambiguation) * List of colors * Melanophobia * Rich black, which is different from using black ink alone, in printing. * Shades of black


References


Notes and citations


Bibliography

* * * * * * * * * * {{Authority control Shades of black, Shades of gray Color Spoken articles Darkness Web colors Cultural aspects of death