Thursday, January 1, 2015
The Color That Keeps the Ghosts Away
I love knowing the crazy origins of everyday things. Take, for example, the blue shown above. You see this and similar "watery" hues throughout the Southern US. "Haint Blues," as they're called, are used to paint ceilings, shutters, and sometimes even entire buildings. They're lovely, of course, but they serve a surprising purpose.
Here's the story, via the wonderful blog Curious Expeditions . . .
Known as the Gullah or Geechee people, the original Haint Blue creators were descendants of African slaves who worked on rice plantations in South Carolina and Georgia. . . . They are well-known for preserving their African heritage more than any other African American community. They kept alive the traditions, stories, and beliefs of their ancestors, including a fear of haints.
Haints, or haunts, are spirits trapped between the world of the living and the world of the dead. These are not your quiet, floaty, sorrowful ghosts, they are the kind you don’t want to mess with, and the kind you certainly don’t want invading into your humble abode looking for revenge. Luckily, the Gullah people remembered an important footnote to the haint legend. These angry spirits have a kryptonite; they cannot cross water. The safest place would be in an underwater bubble, or perhaps to surround your house with a moat. But the Gullah people had a much more elegant solution. They would dig a pit in the ground, fill it with lime, milk, and whatever pigments they could find, stir it all together, and paint the mixture around every opening into their homes. The haints, confused by these watery pigments, are tricked into thinking they can’t enter.
Awesome! Read more here.