Chus Martinez On RedheadsPosted: December 16, 2012
Red is the colour of blood and strawberries. It is next to orange at the end of the visible spectrum of light, and is commonly associated with danger, sacrifice, passion, love, anger, socialism and communism, and in China and many other cultures, with happiness.
The word red comes from the Old English rēd. The word can be further traced to the Proto-Germanic rauthaz and the Proto-Indo European root reudh-. In Sanskrit, the word rudhira means red or blood. In the Akkadian language of Ancient Mesopotamia and in the modern Inuit language of Eskimos, the word for red is the same word as ‘like blood.’
The words for ‘coloured’ in Latin (coloratus) and Spanish (colorado) both also mean ‘red.’ In the Russian language, the word for red, Кра́сный (krasniy), comes from the same old Slavic root as the words for ‘beautiful’:- красивый (krasiviy) and ‘excellent’ – прекрасный (prekrasniy). Thus Red Square in Moscow, named long before the Russian Revolution, meant simply ‘Beautiful Square.’
Your eyes see red when you look at light with a wavelength between 630 and 700 nanometers. Light just past this range is called infrared, or below red, and cannot be seen by human eyes, although it can be sensed as heat.
Man and other primates can distinguish the full range of the colours of the spectrum, but many kinds of mammals, such as dogs and cattle, have dichromacy, which means they can see blues, yellows and greens, but cannot distinguish red or orange. Bulls, for instance, cannot see the red colour of the cape of a bullfighter, but they are agitated by its movement.
One theory for why primates developed sensitivity to red is that it allowed ripe fruit to be distinguished from unripe fruit and inedible vegetation. This may have driven further adaptations by species taking advantage of this new ability, such as the emergence of red faces.
Red light is used to help adapt night vision in low-light or night time, as the rod cells in the human eye are not sensitive to red. Red illumination was (and sometimes still is) used as a safelight while working in a darkroom as it does not expose most photographic paper and some films. Today modern darkrooms usually use an amber safelight.
On the colour wheel long used by painters, and in traditional colour theory, red is one of the three primary colours, along with blue and yellow. Painters could mix red and yellow to get orange, and red and blue to get violet.
In modern colour theory, also known as the RGB colour model, red, green and blue are additive primary colours. Red, green and blue light combined together makes white light, and these three colours, combined in different mixtures, can produce almost any colour. This is the principle used to make the colours on your computer screen and television.
Red is associated with dominance in a number of animal species. For example, in mandrills, red coloration of the face is greatest in alpha males, increasingly less prominent in lower ranking subordinates, and directly correlated with levels of testosterone. Red can also affect the perception of dominance by others, leading to significant differences in mortality, reproductive success and parental investment between individuals displaying red and those not.
In humans, wearing red has been linked with increased performance in competitions, including professional sport and multiplayer video games. Controlled tests have demonstrated that wearing red does not increase performance or levels of testosterone during exercise, so the effect is likely to be produced by perceived rather than actual performance. Judges of tae kwon do have been shown to favour competitors wearing red protective gear over blue, and, when asked, a significant majority of people say that red abstract shapes are more “dominant”, “aggressive”, and “likely to win a physical competition” than blue shapes. In contrast to its positive effect in physical competition and dominance behaviour, exposure to red decreases performance in cognitive tasks and elicits aversion in psychological tests where subjects are placed in an “achievement” context (e.g., taking an IQ test).
Surveys show that red is the colour most associated with courage. In western countries red is a symbol of martyrs and sacrifice, particularly because of its association with blood.
While red is the colour most associated with love, it also the colour most frequently associated with hatred, anger, aggression and war. People who are angry are said to “see red.” Red is the colour most commonly associated with passion and heat. In ancient times red was the colour of Mars, the god of War- the planet Mars was named for him because of its red colour.
Red is the traditional colour of warning and danger. In the Middle Ages, a red flag announced that the defenders of a town or castle would fight to defend it, and a red flag hoisted by a warship meant they would show no mercy to their enemy. In automobile races, the red flag is raised if there is danger to the drivers. In international football, a player who has made a serious violation of the rules is shown a red penalty card and ejected from the game.
Several studies have indicated that red carries the strongest reaction of all the colours, with the level of reaction decreasing gradually with the colours orange, yellow, and white, respectively. For this reason, red is generally used as the highest level of warning, such as threat level of terrorist attack in the United States.
Red is the international colour of stop signs and stop lights on highways and intersections. It was standardised as the international colour by the Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals of 1968. It was chosen partly because red is the brightest colour in daytime (next to orange), though it is less visible at twilight, when green is the most visible colour. Red also stands out more clearly against a cool natural backdrop of blue sky, green trees or gray buildings. But it was mostly chosen as the colour for stoplights and stop signs because of its universal association with danger and warning.
Red is the colour that most attracts attention. Surveys show it is the colour most frequently associated with visibility, proximity, and extroverts. It is also the colour most associated with dynamism and activity.
Red is used in modern fashion much as it was used in medieval painting; to attract the eyes of the viewer to the person who is supposed to be the centre of attention. People wearing red seem to be closer than those dressed in other colours, even if they are actually the same distance away.
Because red attracts attention, it is frequently used in advertising, though studies show that people are less likely to read something printed in red because they know it is advertising, and because it is more difficult visually to read than black and white text.
Red by a large margin is the colour most commonly associated with seduction, sexuality, eroticism and immorality, possibly because of its close connection with passion and with danger.
Red was long seen as having a dark side, particularly in Christian theology. It was associated with sexual passion, anger, sin, and the devil, In the Old Testament of the Bible, the Book of Isaiah said: “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow.” In the New Testament, in the Book of Revelations, the Antichrist appears as a red monster, ridden by a woman dressed in scarlet, known as the Whore of Babylon:
“So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: “And upon her forehead was a name written a mystery: Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and of all the abominations of the earth: And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.”
Satan is often depicted as coloured red and/or wearing a red costume in both iconography and popular culture. In 17th century New England, red was associated with adultery. In the 1850 novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, set in a Puritan New England community, a woman is punished for adultery with ostracism, her sin represented by a red letter ‘A’ sewn onto her clothes.
Red is still commonly associated with prostitution. Prostitutes in many cities were required to wear red to announce their profession, and houses of prostitution displayed a red light. Beginning in the early 20th century, houses of prostitution were allowed only in certain specified neighbourhoods, which became known as red-light districts. Large red-light districts are found today in Bangkok and Amsterdam.