The Color Orange — History, Meaning and Facts

Orange is a bold color that has been popular in society and art for centuries. As the balance between red and yellow, orange elicits strong, positive feelings of excitement while also signaling against danger. Read on for more information about the history and cultural meanings behind the color orange.

Facts About the Color Orange

Here are some facts about orange:

  • The artist Vincent Van Gogh used a lot of orange in his paintings, mixing yellow and red to create unique shades.
  • Orange is the color of safety equipment and prison jumpsuits because it’s highly visible.
  • The orange color in fruits and vegetables comes from carotene.
  • The shade of orange on the Golden Gate Bridge is “international orange,” which protects against rust from the ocean’s salt and moisture from the region’s fog.

A Look at the History of the Color Orange

The orange color was used in art in ancient cultures. Ancient Egyptians used the realgar mineral to create orange paint for their tombs, and orpiment was used in illuminated manuscripts during the Medieval period. The orpiment mineral was used to make orange pigment and was a popular trade item in Ancient Rome and a type of medicine in China.

The name “orange” was given to the color in the 16th century — it was called “saffron” or “yellow-red” previously. When Portuguese merchants brought orange trees to Europe from Asia in the late 15th and early 16th centuries, the citrus fruit’s name was adopted for the general color.

The Meaning of the Color Orange

Some cultures regard orange as a sacred color because it balances red’s power and yellow’s perfection. Monks and holy men in some Asian religions, like Buddhism, wear orange robes because that dye has been readily available historically. Buddhists also connect orange to the highest state of illumination. Orange is the color of transformation in Confucianism.

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Orange is also a symbol of royalty. The royal family in the Netherlands used to hold the principality of Orange as the House of Orange-Nassau, so orange is the country’s national color.

The Psychology of the Color Orange

Orange creates feelings of freshness, excitement and warmth. It’s connected to nature and changing seasons. Because orange has high energy and increases competitiveness, many sports teams choose orange for their branding. Orange also warns of danger and is used on safety equipment.

How Is Orange Dye Made?

Because orange is abundant in nature, there are many natural resources for orange dye:

  • Butternut seed husks
  • Carrots
  • Alder tree bark
  • Eucalyptus
  • Bloodroot
  • Paprika
  • Turmeric

Measuring the Color Orange

On the visible light spectrum, orange is between red and yellow with a dominant wavelength between 585 and 620 nanometers. A spectrophotometer can measure orange by separating light beams into their component wavelengths. It gathers numerical data about color spaces and creates a spectral reflectance graph for the color. The quality of the orange color indicates the quality of the product.

Contact HunterLab for More Information

Partner with HunterLab for your spectrophotometer solutions for your orange products. Contact our team online to learn more.