blue is the deepest colour; unimpeded, the gaze plumbs infinity, the colour forever escaping it. blue is the most insubstantial of colours; it seldom occurs in the natural world except as a translucency, that is to say as an accumulation of emptiness, the void of the heavens, of the depths of the sea, of crystal or diamond. emptiness is austere, pure and frosty. blue is the coldest of colours snd, in its absolute quality, the purest, apart from the total void of matt white.
apply the colour blue to an object and it will reduce, cut open and destroy its shape. movement and sound, like shapes, disappear into blue, sink and vanish like a bird in the sky. insubstantial in itself, blue disembodies whatever becomes caught in it. it is the road to infinity on which the real is changed to the imaginary. to penetrate the blue is rather like alice passing to the other side of the looking-glass. light blue is the colour of meditation, and as it darkens naturally, it becomes the colour of dreams.
juxtaposed with red or yellow ochre, blue displays the sacred marriage of rivalry of heaven and earth. with nothing to break the flat monotony of the steppes of central asia, earth and sky have lain face to face since time began and their marriage has preluded the birth of every hero of the steppes. the legend is still current that genghis khan, who founded the great mongol dynasty, was born of the coupling of a blue wolf with a yellow doe. the blue wolf is none other than er töshtük, the hero of kirghizian courtly verse, clad in blue steel and bearing a blue shield and a blue lance. mongolo-turkic literature is full of blue lions and tigers and these are manifestations of the power of tangri, “father” of the altaic tribes who is throned above the mountains and the sky and who became allah when the turks were converted to islam.
in the war between earth and heaven, blue and white were allied against red and green as christian iconography corroborates, especially in depiction of st. george and the dragon. at byzantium the four factions which confronted each other at the chariot races in the hippodrome were the reds and greens on one side and the whites and blues on the other.
to the aztec mind, turquoise blue was the colour of the sun, which they named ‘prince of the turquoise’ (chalchihuitl). it was the sign of drought, famine an death, yet it was also a blue-green stone, which ornamented the skirts of the goddess of rebirth. when an aztec prince died, one of these stones replaced his heart before his body was cremated, just as in egypt, before mummification, the dead pharaoh’s heart was replaced by a scarab beetle carved from emerald. in some parts of poland the custom of painting the house of brides-to-be blue still survives.
blue is the colour of the yang, and the geomantic dragon, and hence is beneficent. huan (blue), the colour of the darkling distant sky, suggests the realm of the immortals, but also, if interpreted in accordance with the tao te ching, the non-manifested. the original pictogram would relate to the unreeling of the thread of a double cocoon, reminiscent of the symbolism of the spiral.
there is no specific word in celtic languages for blue (glas in breton, welsh and irish gaelic means blue or green or even grey, according to context), and when a distinction is essential, alternatives or synonyms are used.
fra the penguin dictionary of symbols, jean chevalier og alain gheerbrant 1994