Saturday, October 17, 2020

Sadd Colors

The orangey-brown you see on the leaves now is a puritan color.  We call it russet. It was then called "Philly Mort," a corruption of the French feuille morte.* They preferred the restrained, subdued hues called sadd colors, which those who have read Albion's Seed may remember. Puritan hats were black. Black was otherwise considered a bit pretentious, or at least over-formal.  Clerics adopted it as time went on, reflecting their increased self-regard. But for everyday, the colors which occurred in nature were considered acceptable, though even a few of those were suspect.

Consider, for example, the dull magenta which Harvard calls "crimson," and the dull blue and gray of Yale, or the dark Dartmouth green.  And of course Brown has the color...brown. The colleges and universities in other parts of the country have more exciting colors. Here, it is rust, puce, tawny, forest green, and other somber shades.

Those are the old New England colors you could still find until after WWII.  Immediately afterwards, all those gaudy golf/Bar Harbor/LL Bean colors suddenly became the mark of the moneyed, salt-water elite. I don't know why, but I suspect that the universality of the dull colors even among the poor here created a counter-reaction of adoption of shades that had heretofore been favored by the gaudy urban and ethnic poor.  Just a guess on my part.  But you will remember the preppy look of the 70s and 80s which tended toward pink and bright green. Or lemony yellows, Nantucket Red, and all the rest. 

*There is a minority opinion that philly mort was an even duller, gray-brown color, but I am following the decisions of Plimoth Plantation on this.


Boxty said...

Any idea what ginger lyne or purple colors looked like that were mentioned in the Wikipedia article?

I see a lot of the greens mentioned in the article on the beach cottages in Del Mar.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I don't know. I would conclude that as ginger root was known and is a light brown, that ginger lyne might be similar. There are plenty of dull purples, if you get them dark enough.

RichardJohnson said...

The popular stereotype of the Puritans/Pilgrims is that they wore black all the time. On the contrary, they rarely wore black. This is not the only popularly held -but incorrect- stereotype of the Puritans/Pilgrims. Consider sex.

A recent article in Quillette has an example of this stereotype.Sex and the American Presidency.
America was founded by an austere religious sect for whom sex was anathema. America invokes God on both its coinage and paper money. In 1630, John Winthrop declared America to be “a city upon a hill,” gilded words that borrowed from the Sermon on the Mount and were famously echoed centuries later by Ronald Reagan. >

The article was originally published in France, which rather confirms my opinion of France, based on the French I have known in Latin America and the US.

It is not difficult to find refutation of the narrative that "sex was anathema" for the Puritans/Pilgrims.Love and Marriage Among the Puritans
Contrary to the popular stereotype, the Puritans weren’t prudish, and there’s plenty of evidence that, once married, they thoroughly enjoyed sex and romance. The works of Anne Bradstreet are widely noted as good examples, as is Thomas Hooker’s description of a devoted husband:
“The man whose heart is endeared to the woman he loves, he dreams of her in the night, hath her in his eye and apprehension when he awakes, museth on her as he sits at table, walks with her when he travels and parlies with her in each place where he comes . . .”

Another refutation of the sex-fearing Puritans/Pilgrims stereotype is their fertility rate. IIRC, their fertility rate was high even for that time- 7 to 9 children.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

We think the medievals liked more somber colors because the colors have acquired grime, as in the Sistine Chapel, which turned out to be a gaudy riot of color, or because the dyes have faded or the paint worn off.

We think of ourselves as the lively and bright people while those who have gone before were dark and rather ghostly even in their own day.

As to sex, yes, they were very much in favor of it, just strict about the rules. If they were over-the-top crazy about something, it was death.