Color Chronicles: Deconstructing "Qing"

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Some colors exist in a different language, like in traditional Chinese history. Among the traditional colors of Chinese culture is qing (青), a color based on the Wu Xing or Theory of the Five Elements, a principle in traditional Chinese physics.

For the Western world, qing is a very foreign chromatic concept. It's nature's color—green or blue, greenish black, according to Yabla Dictionary.

Credits: suizidekid, mell0nc0llie & robertofiuza

Qing is a special color found in Chinese color history, it's a dualistic color that refers to the mix of green and blue, sometimes with tones of black in it. The World of Chinese defines the color qing in a very specific description:

“The character 青 (qīng) describes color: 青天 (qīngtiān) for the sky, 青山 (qīngshān) for the mountains, 青丝(qīngsī) for hair, 青眼 (qīngyǎn) for eyes… One color can be used to describe all of these different entities. What color is 青 anyway? When used with different nouns to form fixed words and phrases, qing could be green, blue, or close to black.”

The interesting aspect of this color is how there's no exact hue for it. Sure, in most cases it refers to green, as is with the Chinese language when they refer to grass, mountains, vegetables. It's the color of spring, surely, as the ancient dictionary The Shiming defines qing as 'birth'. The word 青春 (qīngchūn), literally translated to “green spring”, means youth.

Sometimes qing is blue, and it comes from the words of a Confucian philosopher named Xunzi, who says, “Qing comes from blue, yet excels blue”. The World of Chinese also writes, “Blue, in this context, refers to bluegrass, which was used to dye items the color of qing. The sentence “青出于蓝而胜于蓝” (qīng chū yú lán ér shèng yú lán) has become a fixed expression, used to describe how the student could excel the teacher.” Lastly, the color qing will not be qing without the presence of black tones in it.

Credits: txr53, alcastan, ashgowan & furn7973

Such a complex, yet wonderful color qing is! Perhaps the best way to see qing with your camera is to remember that qing is the color of nature, of earth and water since it's how the world came to be. Go for natural seascapes, skyscapes, landscapes, where nature screams loudest.

2018-05-18 #culture #qing #color-chronicles

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