Mystified by the symbolism that each Viking hue holds? We know that Vikings (Norsemen residing in regions now known as Scandinavia), the daring seafarers of the late eighth to early 11th century, left an ineffaceable mark with their epic voyages and their rich cultural symbolism, particularly in the meanings assigned to colors. Let’s understand the symbolism held by each viking color and its impact on the society that continues to captivate modern imagination.
The Viking Colors
Colors in each Norse necklace bore unique meanings and represented emotions, social standing, and the essence of their beliefs.
Red, a prominent color in Viking culture, held a significance extending beyond religious associations. It symbolized power, strength, and vitality. Warriors might have worn red during battles to convey a sense of fierceness and to intimidate enemies. Red dyes were obtained from natural sources such as madder roots, and the vibrant color would have been a practical as well as a symbolic choice for garments.
Blue, like red, was a commonly used color in Viking textiles. Abundant in the natural world, blue signified loyalty, wisdom, truth, and steadfastness. Since the Viking society highly valued these traits, they used this color in their clothing abundantly. It can also be associated with the vastness of the sea and the open sky, thus reflecting the seafaring nature of the Vikings.
Inhabiting coastal areas, the Vikings linked green to fertility, nature and environment. They used it to represent the lush landscapes of their environments. It symbolized the cycles of life, growth, and luck which were super important various aspects of their lives. This color might have been used in ceremonies related to agriculture and prosperity.
Yellow and gold were colors associated with wealth and prosperity. The Vikings, being skilled traders and seafarers, highly valued precious metals. Gold, in particular, was a symbol of social status and affluence, which could have been used in both personal adornments and as embellishments on clothing and Viking necklaces.
White held dual meanings for the Vikings. On one hand, it symbolized purity and innocence, often worn during religious ceremonies and rituals, while on the other hand, it could represent death and the afterlife, particularly in connection with burial practices. White clothing or items were sometimes included in burials to signify the transition to the afterlife. The simplicity of white conveyed a sense of solemnity and reverence.
The enigmatic black, though not commonly used, held a special place in Viking symbolism, representing the mysterious depths of the seas they navigated and the inherent strength required for their audacious explorations. It also might have been used to symbolize mourning and the somber aspects of life, being worn during funerals or periods of grief. Black may have also been chosen for practical reasons, as it conceals dirt and wear, particularly in the harsh conditions of the Viking Age.
Unlike modern age where colors are merely chosen for aesthetic reasons, Vikings used colors to convey specific messages about identity, status, and cultural values in addition to aesthetics and decor. The symbolic use of colors went beyond religious associations, and was profoundly present in beads and pendants of the Viking necklaces, thus offering a captivating glimpse into the cultural depth of this ancient society. From the vast seas they traversed to the art they curated, these colors were interwoven into the fabric of Viking life, leaving an enduring legacy.