The one thing that captivated me, out of all the research regarding the Silk Road, was Tyrian Purple, then, a symbol of power, authority and wealth. It was the first purple dye to not only produce such vivid range of pinks and violets but also said to be resistant to fade. It was harvested from Murex shellfishes, specifically the Murex trunculus, Purpura lapillus, Helix ianthina, and especially the Murex brandaris; each produces a different shade.
The dye so was highly sought after, Silk Road traders would take detours just to obtain it. One can imagine its value as its production required thousands of these little shells. It was said that “10,000 shellfish would produce 1 gram of dyestuff, and that would only dye the hem of a garment in a deep colour”. The heap of the discarded shells would also reach a height of 40 meters high.
Of all its uses, I chose to focus on its use on Byzantine Silk for its influence as the combination became the core of Byzantine silk monopoly. It originates from Phoenicia, current day Lebanon, so it is also geologically more relevant.
The research have given me vibes of the the sea, ocean and water; connotations of waves and ripples. With the thought of Byzantine Silk as my main subject, I have found that often circle motifs are painted onto the silk and would fit well with the rippling effects. The shapes of the shells are rather interesting too and might open opportunities to explore the terrain of the spiral surface. Things are not set in stone yet, but one thing for sure is that Purple will be an accent colour.
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