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Pink is a color that is a pale tint of red and is named after a flower of the same name. It was first used as a color name in the late 17th century. According to surveys in Europe and the United States, pink is the color most often associated with charm, politeness, sensitivity, tenderness, sweetness, childhood, femininity and romance. A combination of pink and white is associated with chastity and innocence, whereas a combination of pink and black links to eroticism and seduction.
Various shades of pink
The color pink takes its name from the flowers called pinks, members of the genus Dianthus.
In most European languages, pink is called rose or rosa, after the rose flower.
Cherry blossoms in Sendai, Miyagi, Japan. The Japanese language has different words for the pink of cherry blossoms (sakura-iro), and peach blossoms (momo-iro). Recently the word pinku has also become popular.
Pink is often associated with the exotic. Greater flamingoes in flight over Pocharam Lake in Andhra Pradesh, India.
Rhodochrosite is one of the many kinds of pink gemstones.
Pink is sometimes associated with extravagance and a wish to be noticed. A 1963 pink Cadillac.
Pink and white together symbolize youth, tenderness and innocence.
The color pink is named after the flowers, pinks, flowering plants in the genus Dianthus, and derives from the frilled edge of the flowers. The verb "to pink" dates from the 14th century and means "to decorate with a perforated or punched pattern" (possibly from German picken, "to peck").
Pink rarely appears in nature, which is why it was first used as a noun to refer to a color in the 17th century. The verb "pink" continues to be reflected today as the name of hand-held scissors that cut a zig-zagged line to prevent fraying that are referred to as pinking shears.
The color pink has been described in literature since ancient times. In the Odyssey, written in approximately 800 BCE, Homer wrote "Then, when the child of morning, rosy-fingered dawn appeared..." Roman poets also described the color. Roseus is the Latin word meaning "rosy" or "pink." Lucretius used the word to describe the dawn in his epic poem On the Nature of Things (De rerum natura).
Pink was not a common color in the fashion of the Middle Ages; nobles usually preferred brighter reds, such as crimson. However, it did appear in women's fashion, and in religious art. In the 13th and 14th century, in works by Cimabue and Duccio, the Christ child was sometimes portrayed dressed in pink, the color associated with the body of Christ.
In the high Renaissance painting the Madonna of the Pinks by Raphael, the Christ child is presenting a pink flower to the Virgin Mary. The pink was a symbol of marriage, showing a spiritual marriage between the mother and child.
During the Renaissance, pink was mainly used for the flesh color of faces and hands. The pigment commonly used for this was called light cinabrese; it was a mixture of the red earth pigment called sinopia, or Venetian red, and a white pigment called Bianco San Genovese, or lime white. In his famous 15th century manual on painting, Il Libro Dell'Arte, Cennino Cennini described it this way: "This pigment is made from the loveliest and lightest sinopia that is found and is mixed and mulled with St. John’s white, as it is called in Florence; and this white is made from thoroughly white and thoroughly purified lime. And when these two pigments have been thoroughly mulled together (that is, two parts cinabrese and the third white), make little loaves of them like half walnuts and leave them to dry. When you need some, take however much of it seems appropriate. And this pigment does you great credit if you use it for painting faces, hands and nudes on walls..."
The Greek poet Homer wrote of "the child of morning, rose-fingered dawn" in the Odyssey. Sunrise at Serifos, Greece.
In the early Renaissance, the infant Jesus was sometimes shown dressed in pink, the color associated with the body of Christ. This is The Virgin and Child Enthroned with Two Angels, by Cimabue. (1265–1280)
In the 1280s, Duccio also painted the Christ child dressed in pink
A knight in red receiving a helmet from a damsel in pink, from an English manuscript of The Romance of Alexander (1338-1344).
In the painting Madonna of the Pinks by Raphael, c. 1506-07, the Christ Child gives a pink flower to the Virgin Mary, symbolizing the union between the mother and child.
The zenith of the color pink was the 18th century, when pastel colors became very fashionable in all the courts of Europe. Pink was particularly championed by Madame de Pompadour (1721–1764), the mistress of King Louis XV of France, who wore combinations of pale blue and pink, and had a particular tint of pink made for her by the Sevres porcelain factory, created by adding nuances of blue, black and yellow.
While pink was quite evidently the color of seduction in the portraits made by George Romney of Emma, Lady Hamilton, the future mistress of Admiral Horatio Nelson, in the late 18th century, it had the completely opposite meaning in the portrait of Sarah Barrett Moulton painted by Thomas Lawrence in 1794. In this painting, it symbolized childhood, innocence and tenderness. Sarah Moulton was just eleven years old when the picture was painted, and died the following year.
Madame de Pompadour, the mistress of Louis XV of France, made pink and blue the leading fashion colors in the Court of Versailles. She had a special pink tint created for her by the Sevres porcelain factory. This portrait by Maurice Quentin de La Tour was painted between 1748 and 1755.
Pink had become a popular color throughout Europe by the late 18th century. It was associated with both romanticism and seduction. This fashion plate is from 1778–1787.
Emma, Lady Hamilton, later the mistress of Admiral Horatio Nelson, had herself painted by English painter George Romney posing as a Bacchante, dressed in pink. (1782–1784)
The portrait of Sarah Moulton, popularly known as "Pinkie", by Sir Thomas Lawrence (1794). Here pink represented youth, innocence and tenderness.
Paul-Henri Thiry, Baron d'Holbach by Louis Carmontelle. Pink was worn by both sexes.
In 19th century England, pink ribbons or decorations were often worn by young boys; boys were simply considered small men, and while men in England wore red uniforms, boys wore pink. In fact the clothing for children in the 19th century was almost always white, since, before the invention of chemical dyes, clothing of any color would quickly fade when washed in boiling water. Queen Victoria was painted in 1850 with her seventh child and third son, Prince Arthur, who wore white and pink. In late nineteenth-century France, Impressionist painters working in a pastel color palette sometimes depicted women wearing the color pink, such as Edgar Degas’ image of ballet dancers or Mary Cassatt’s images of women and children.
Queen Victoria in 1850 or 1851 with her third son and seventh child, Prince Arthur. In the 19th century, baby boys often wore white and pink. Pink was seen as a masculine color, while girls often wore white and blue.
Young boy in pink, American school of painting (about 1840). Both girls and boys wore pink in the 19th century.
Dancers in pink, between scenes. Edgar Degas
The Impressionist painter Claude Monet used pink, blue and green to capture the effects of light and shadows on a white dress in Springtime (1872).
Mary Cassatt, Girl in a Bonnet Tied with a Large Pink Bow, 1909. Oil on canvas (68 x 57.2 cm). Private Collection.
The US presidential inauguration of Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953 when Eisenhower's wife Mamie Eisenhower wore a pink dress as her inaugural gown is thought to have been a key turning point to the association of pink as a color associated with girls. Mamie's strong liking of pink led to the public association with pink being a color that "ladylike women wear." The 1957 American musical Funny Face also played a role in cementing the color's association with women.
In the 20th century, pinks became bolder, brighter, and more assertive, in part because of the invention of chemical dyes which did not fade. The pioneer in the creation of the new wave of pinks was the Italian designer Elsa Schiaparelli, (1890-1973) who was aligned with the artists of the surrealist movement, including Jean Cocteau. In 1931 she created a new variety of the color, called shocking pink, made by mixing magenta with a small amount of white. She launched a perfume called Shocking, sold in a bottle in the shape of a woman's torso, said to be modelled on that of Mae West. Her fashions, co-designed with artists such as Cocteau, featured the new pinks.
In Nazi Germany in the 1930s and 1940s, inmates of Nazi concentration camps who were accused of homosexuality were forced to wear a pink triangle. Because of this, the pink triangle has become a symbol of the modern gay rights movement.
The transition to pink as a sexually differentiating color for girls occurred gradually, through the selective process of the marketplace, in the 1930s and 40s. In the 1920s, some groups had been describing pink as a masculine color, an equivalent of the red that was considered to be for men, but lighter for boys. But stores nonetheless found that people were increasingly choosing to buy pink for girls, and blue for boys, until this became an accepted norm in the 1940s.
Mamie Eisenhower in her pink inaugural gown, painted in 1953 by Thomas Stevens
Shocking pink, a mix of magenta with a little white, was the signature color of Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli.
Jacqueline Kennedy, the wife of President John F. Kennedy, made pink a popular high-fashion color.
Pink combined with black or violet is associated with seduction. Marilyn Monroe in the trailer for the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953).
Pink lipstick is thought to attract attention and harmonize with flesh colors, clothes and fashion accessories.
Detail of "Pink," a poster created by Sheila de Bretteville in 1973. It was meant to explore the notions of gender as associated with the color pink, for an American Institute of Graphic Arts exhibition about color.
In optics, the word "pink" can refer to any of the pale shades of colors between bluish red to red in hue, of medium to high lightness, and of low to moderate saturation. Although pink is generally considered a tint of red, the colors of most tints of pink are slightly bluish, and lie between red and magenta. A few variations of pink, such as salmon color, lean toward orange.
As a ray of white sunlight travels through the atmosphere, some of the colors are scattered out of the beam by air molecules and airborne particles. This is called Rayleigh scattering. Colors with a shorter wavelength, such as blue and green, scatter more strongly, and are removed from the light that finally reaches the eye. At sunrise and sunset, when the path of the sunlight through the atmosphere to the eye is longest, the blue and green components are removed almost completely, leaving the longer wavelength orange, red and pink light. The remaining pinkish sunlight can also be scattered by cloud droplets and other relatively large particles, which give the sky above the horizon a pink or reddish glow.
Sunrise in southeast Alaska. Sunsets and sunrises are sometimes pink because of an optical effect called Rayleigh scattering.
Sunset in Santa Monica, California.
Pink topaz from Ouro Preto, Brazil.
Corundum, or pink sapphire, from the Dodoma Region of Tanzania
Calcite from Bou Azzer, Morocco
Barite-Rhodochrosite from the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in China.
Clinochlore from Erzerum Province, Turkey
Rough rose quartz
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in Utah. The colour is from Navajo Sandstone, reddish hematite mixed with white quartz grains
Angel's Landing in Zion National Park in Utah is made of pink sandstone.
A pink sand beach on Tikehau in French Polynesia
A Strigilla carnaria shell from Dominica, in the West Indies.
An Ocelated frogfish (Antennarius ocellatus), from East Timor. The frogfish is camouflaged to look like a rock covered with algae or seaweed; it lies motionless and waits for its prey to come to it.
The pink iguana of the Galapagos Islands was first identified in 1986 and first recognized as a distinct species in 2009.
The Pink Dolphin is a freshwater river dolphin which lives in the Orinoco, Amazon and Araguaia/Tocantins River systems of Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela. It is an endangered species and has a brain 40% larger than a human's.
The so-called "white elephant" is revered in several countries in Southeast Asia and is naturally pinkish gray. They are actually albino elephants.
The pig has been domesticated over ten thousand years and selectively bred to have a pink skin, without melanin, which farmers traditionally have preferred to a dark color.
Flamingoes in Laguna Colorada, Bolivia. The pink or reddish color of flamingos comes from carotenoid proteins in their diet of animal and plant plankton. An unhealthy or malnourished flamingo, or one kept in captivity and not fed sufficient carotene, is usually pale or white.
A Roseate spoonbill in Myakka River State Park in Florida. Its pink color, like that of the flamingo, comes from the carotenoid pigments in its diet.
The Lophochroa leadbeateri, commonly known as Major Mitchell's Cockatoo or the pink cockatoo, is a native of the arid interior regions of Australia.
Lake Hillier, Australia, the colour is caused by algae
Raw beef is red, because the muscles of vertebrate animals, such as cows and pigs, contain a protein called myoglobin, which binds oxygen and iron atoms. When beef is cooked, the myoglobin proteins undergo oxidation, and gradually turn from red to pink to brown; that is, from rare to medium to well-done. Pork contains less myoglobin than beef and therefore is less red; when heated, it changes from pinkish-red to less pink to tan or white.
Ham, though it contains myoglobins like beef, undergoes a different transformation. Traditional hams, such as prosciutto, are made by taking the hind leg or thigh of a pig, covering it with sea salt, which removes the moisture content, and then letting it dry or cure for as long as two years. The salt (sodium nitrate) permits the ham to retain its original pink color, even when dried out. Supermarket hams are made by a different and faster process; they are brined, or infused with a salt-water solution, containing sodium nitrite, which transfers nitric oxide, which bonds with the myoglobin to form the traditional pink cured ham color.
The shells and flesh of crustaceans such as crabs, lobsters and shrimp contain a pink carotenoid pigment called astaxanthin. Their shells, naturally blue-green, turn pink or red when cooked. The flesh of the salmon also contains astaxanthins, which makes it pink. Farm-bred salmon are sometimes fed these pigments to improve their pinkness, and it is sometimes also used to enhance the color of egg yolks.
Roast beef gets its distinctive pink color from myoglobin, which gradually turns from red to pink to brown (rare to medium to well-done) when heated.
Prosciutto hams also get their pink color from salt combined with the natural protein called myoglobin.
The shells and flesh of steamed shrimp contain a natural carotenoid pigment called astaxanthin, which turns pink when heated. The same process turns cooked lobster and crab from blue-green to red when they are boiled.
The meat of the salmon is also colored pink by the natural carotenoid pigment called astaxanthin.
Pink is one of the most common colors of flowers; it serves to attract the insects and birds necessary for pollination and perhaps also to deter predators. The color comes from natural pigments called anthocyanins, which also provide the pink in raspberries.
A pink rose in the rain.
A clematis Chantilly.
A pink hibiscus from Australia.
Pink tulips in the botanical gardens of Moscow State University.
A pink dahlia
A pink peony.
A flower of a magnolia tree
A pink rhododendron
Spiraea japonica flowers.
A Japanese cherry tree (Prunus serrulata) in bloom.
Pink hyacinth flowers
In the 17th century, the word pink or pinke was also used to describe a yellowish pigment, which was mixed with blue colors to yield greenish colors. Thomas Jenner's A Book of Drawing, Limning, Washing (1652) categorizes "Pink & blew bice" amongst the greens (p. 38), and specifies several admixtures of greenish colors made with pink—e.g. "Grasse-green is made of Pink and Bice, it is shadowed with Indigo and Pink … French-green of Pink and Indico [shadowed with] Indico" (pp. 38–40). In William Salmon's Polygraphice (1673), "Pink yellow" is mentioned amongst the chief yellow pigments (p. 96), and the reader is instructed to mix it with either Saffron or Ceruse for "sad" or "light" shades thereof, respectively.
According to public opinion surveys in Europe and the United States, pink is the color most associated with charm, politeness, sensitivity, tenderness, sweetness, softness, childhood, the feminine, and the romantic. Although it did not have any strong negative associations in these surveys, few respondents chose pink as their favorite color. Pink was the favorite color of only two-percent of respondents, compared with forty-five-percent who chose blue. Pink was the least-favorite color of seventeen percent of respondents; the only color more disliked was brown, with twenty percent. There was a notable difference between men and women; three percent of women chose pink as their favorite color, compared with less than one percent of men. Many of the men surveyed were unable to even identify pink correctly, confusing it with mauve. Pink was also more popular with older people than younger; twenty-five percent of women under twenty-five called pink their least favorite color, compared with only eight percent of women over fifty. Twenty-nine percent of men under the age of twenty-five said pink was their least favorite color, compared with eight percent of men over fifty.
In Japan, pink is the color most commonly associated with springtime due to the blooming cherry blossoms. This is different from surveys in the United States and Europe where green is the color most associated with springtime.
In many languages, the word for the color pink is based on the name of the rose flower; like rose in French; roze in Dutch; rosa in German, Latin, Portuguese, Catalan, Spanish, Italian, Swedish and Norwegian (Nynorsk and Bokmål); rozovyy/розовый in Russian; różowy in Polish; ורוד (varód) in Hebrew; গোলাপি (golapi) in Bangla; and गुलाबी (gulābee) in Hindi. In English "rose", too, often refers to both the flower and the color.
In Danish, Faroese and Finnish, the color pink is described as a lighter shade of red: lyserød in Danish, ljósareyður in Faroese and vaaleanpunainen in Finnish, all meaning "light red". Similarly, some Celtic languages use a term meaning "whitish red": gwynnrudh in Cornish, bándearg in Irish, bane-yiarg in Manx, bàn-dhearg in Scottish Gaelic (which also uses liath-dhearg "greyish/pale red" and pinc from English). In Icelandic, the color is called bleikur, originally meaning "pale".
In the Japanese language, the traditional word for pink, momo-iro (ももいろ), takes its name from the peach blossom. There is a separate word for the color of the cherry blossom: sakura-iro. In recent times a word based on the English version, pinku (ピンク), has begun to be used.
In Chinese, the color pink is named with a compound noun 粉紅色, meaning "powder red" where the powder refers to substances used for women's make-up.
The Thai word for the color, ชมพู (chom-puu), derives ultimately from Sanskrit जम्बू (jambū) "rose apple".
Early pink buildings were usually built of brick or sandstone, which takes its pale red color from hematite, or iron ore. In the 18th century - the golden age of pink and other pastel colors - pink mansions and churches were built all across Europe. More modern pink buildings usually use the color pink to appear exotic or to attract attention.
Casa Rosada, or the "Pink House", in Buenos Aires, built between 1713 and 1855 as a fort and then customs house, is the official residence and office of the President of Argentina.
A pink building in Vääksy, Asikkala, Finland.
The City Center in Kannur, India.
Ostankino Palace, outside of Moscow, is an 18th-century country house built by Pyotr Sheremetev, then the richest man in Russia.
Macau Government Headquarters (1849), an example of Portuguese colonial architecture and the Pombaline style in Macau.
The Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Honolulu, Hawaii, built in 1927, was the first hotel on Waikiki Beach. Its pink color was designed to match an exotic setting, and to contrast with the blue of the sea and green of the landscape.
The Georgia-Pacific Tower in Atlanta, Georgia (1981), a modernist pink skyscraper.
Canada Place Building, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (1988) a post-modernist style government office building.
"big Pink" The US Bancorp Tower in Portland, Oregon pink granite and windows(ground breaking 1981 dedicated 1983)
According to surveys in Europe and the United States, pink is the color most associated with sweet foods and beverages. Pink is also one of the few colors to be strongly associated with a particular aroma, that of roses. Many strawberry and raspberry-flavored foods are colored pink and light red as well, sometimes to distinguish them from cherry-flavored foods that are more commonly colored dark red (although raspberry-flavored foods, particularly in the United States, are often colored blue as well). The drink Tab was packaged in pink cans, presumably to subconsciously convey a sweet taste.
The pink color in most packaged and processed foods, ice creams, candies and pastries is made with artificial food coloring. The most common pink food coloring is erythrosine, also known as Red No. 3, an organoiodine compound, a derivative of fluorone, which is a cherry-pink synthetic. It is usually listed on package labels as E-127. Another common red or pink (particularly in the United States where erythrosine is less frequently used) is Allura Red AC (E-129), also known as Red No. 40. Some products use a natural red or pink food coloring, Cochineal, also called carmine, made with crushed insects of the family Dactylopius coccus.
Pink is the color most commonly associated with sweet tastes
A strawberry ice cream cone
A macaron with raspberries
Bunga kuda (also known as bunga pundak) is a traditional dessert in Malaysia, containing a coconut filling
Chi chi dango is a sweet dessert made of rice flour. It is of Japanese origin, and very popular in Hawaii
Traditional rosé wines get their color when temporarily fermented with dark purple grapeskins
Pink champagne takes its color either when temporarily fermented with the skins of dark purple grapes, or by adding a small amount of red wine
In Europe and the United States, pink is often associated with girls, while blue is associated with boys. These colors were first used as gender signifiers just prior to World War I (for either girls or boys), and pink was first established as a female gender signifier in the 1940s. In the 20th century, the practice in Europe varied from country to country, with some assigning colors based on the baby's complexion, and others assigning pink sometimes to boys and sometimes to girls.
Many have noted the contrary association of pink with boys in 20th-century America. An article in the trade publication Earnshaw's Infants' Department in June 1918 said:
The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.
One reason for the increased use of pink for girls and blue for boys was the invention of new chemical dyes, which meant that children's clothing could be mass-produced and washed in hot water without fading. Prior to this time, most small children of both sexes wore white, which could be frequently washed. Another factor was the popularity of blue and white sailor suits for young boys, a fashion that started in the late 19th century. Blue was also the usual color of school uniforms, for boys and girls. Blue was associated with seriousness and study, while pink was associated with childhood and softness.
By the 1950s, pink was strongly associated with femininity but to an extent that was "neither rigid nor universal" as it later became.
One study by two neuroscientists in Current Biology examined color preferences across cultures and found significant differences between male and female responses. Both groups favored blues over other hues, but women had more favorable responses to the reddish-purple range of the spectrum and men had more favorable responses to the greenish-yellow middle of the spectrum. Despite the fact that the study used adults, and both groups preferred blues, and responses to the color pink were never even tested, the popular press represented the research as an indication of an innate preference by girls for pink. The misreading has been often repeated in market research, reinforcing American culture's association of pink with girls on the basis of imagined innate characteristics.
As of 2008 various feminist groups and the Breast Cancer Awareness Month use the color pink to convey empowerment of women. Breast cancer charities around the world have used the color to symbolize support for people with breast cancer and promote awareness of the disease. A key tactic of these charities is encouraging women and men to wear pink to show their support for breast cancer awareness and research.
Pink has symbolized a "welcome embrace" in India and masculinity in Japan.
In the United States and Europe, baby girls are often dressed in pink and white.
Boy in a sailor suit (1883). The blue sailor suit helped make blue instead of pink the color for boys in the 20th century.
Indian actress Shriya Saran. In many cultures, pink is associated with femininity.
Women of the Herero people from Namibia. Pink stands out.
Three nuns in pink in Yangon, Burma.
Toys aimed at girls often display pink prominently on packaging and the toy themselves. This is a relatively recent trend, with toys from the 1920s to the 1960s not being gendered by color (though they were gendered by a focus on domesticity and nurturing). The current color-based gendering of toys can be traced back to the deregulation of children's television programs. This allowed toy companies to produce shows that were designed specifically to sell their products, and gender was an important differentiator of these shows and the toys they were advertising.
In its 1957 catalog, Lionel Trains offered for sale a pink model freight train for girls. The steam locomotive and coal car were pink and the freight cars of the freight train were various pastel colors. The caboose was baby blue. It was a marketing failure because any girl who might want a model train would want a realistically colored train, while boys in the 1950s did not want to be seen playing with a pink train. However, today it is a valuable collector's item.
As noted above, pink combined with black or violet is commonly associated with eroticism and seduction.
Pink is often used as a symbolic color by groups involved in issues important to women, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
The pink ribbon has been a symbol of breast cancer awareness since 1991.
The White House illuminated in pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The word pink is not used for any tincture (color) in heraldry, but there are two fairly uncommon tinctures which are both close to pink:
Pink is used for the newsprint paper of several important newspapers devoted to business and sports, and the color is also connected with the press aimed at the gay community.
Since 1893 the London Financial Times newspaper has used a distinctive salmon pink color for its newsprint, originally because pink dyed paper was less expensive than bleached white paper. Today the color is used to distinguish the newspaper from competitors on a press kiosk or news stand. In some countries, the salmon press identifies economic newspapers or economics sections in "white" newspapers. Some sports newspapers, such as La Gazzetta dello Sport in Italy, also use pink paper to stand out from other newspapers. It awards a pink jersey to the winner of Italy's most important bicycle race, the Giro d'Italia. (See #Sports).
Today’s color dictate wasn’t established until the 1940s, as a result of Americans’ preferences as interpreted by manufacturers and retailers. “It could have gone the other way”