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  • There are 196 countries in the world today and virtually none of them have purple on their national flag.

  • Throughout history, purple was never used to represent a kingdom, civilization, or Empire.

  • So what's wrong with purple?

  • It's such a popular color today.

  • Why would no country use it in their flag?

  • The answer is really quite simple.

  • Purple was just far too expensive.

  • No countries have purple on their flag because up until the 1800s, purple was worth more than its weight in gold.

  • The color purple has been associated with royalty power and wealth for centuries.

  • In fact, Queen Elizabeth I forbade anyone except close members of the royal family to wear it.

  • Purple's elite status stems from the rarity and cost of the dye originally used to produce it.

  • The dye initially used to make purple came from the Phoenician trading city of Tyre, which is now in modern-day Lebanon.

  • Fabric traders obtained the dye from a small sea snail that was only found in the Tyre region of the Mediterranean.

  • A lot of work went into producing the dye as more than 10,000 snails were needed to create just one gram of tyrian purple.

  • Since only wealthy rulers could afford to buy and wear the color, it became associated with the Imperial classes of Rome, Egypt, and Persia.

  • Purple also came to represent spirituality and holiness because the ancient Emperor's kings and queens that wore the color were often thought of as gods or descendants of the gods.

  • Sometimes, however, the dye was too expensive even for royalty.

  • Third century Roman Emperor Aurelio famously wouldn't allow his wife to buy a shawl made from tyrian purple silk because it literally cost three times its weight in gold.

  • A single pound of dye cost three pounds of gold, which is the equivalent of fifty six thousand dollars today.

  • So since the sheer price of purple was so astronomically high, no one not even the richest nations could afford to have purple on their flag.

  • The hue became more accessible to lower-class is about a century and a half ago.

  • In 1856, 18-year old English chemist William Henry Perkin accidentally created a synthetic purple compound while attempting to synthesize quinine an anti-malaria drug.

  • He noticed that the compound could be used to dye fabrics, so he patented the dye, manufactured it and got filthy rich.

  • Purple dye was then mass-produced so just about everybody could afford it.

  • The elite stopped valuing purple and the status symbol faded away but the country flags remain the same.

  • Since 1900, a handful of new national flags have been designed and a few of them have opted to use purple in their flag.

  • So don't be making any bets just yet.

  • Hopefully you found this interesting.

  • Sometimes the simplest questions have the most fascinating answers.

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There are 196 countries in the world today and virtually none of them have purple on their national flag.

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B1 US purple dye flag tyre afford royalty

Why Don't Country Flags Use The Color Purple?

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    Rong Chiang posted on 2019/03/29
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