Red: the symbol in history


  • Anna Luana Tallarita Utad/Iade/Grupo De Geociancias



Red, Power, Life, Symbol, Sign, Death


This article presents historical information and curiosities on the red. As a symbol, color present in human nature and its representation. Color is an integral part of the perception of space and objects in which the person relies. From the etymological point of view, the word red comes from rubeum corradical rubeum. In Latin it is indicated by the terms rutilus and ruber which conceptually represent the meaning of: blood and life. Red is the symbol of body and matter. Red is also the color of fire, heat, energy. Fire is the basis of light that is dimensioned in that part of the day when human action takes place and for this reason represents action in general. Red and shell were the first symbols used by the individual as personification of blood and water, representing how the symbol precedes the sign. Red ocher has a primary importance in burial rites. Red is linked to the inoculation of the dead and to rites of rebirth.

Author Biography

Anna Luana Tallarita, Utad/Iade/Grupo De Geociancias

Anna Luana Tallarita Jazz singer, composer, anthropologist and creative artist working in different forms to express a colored complex intercultural reality. Published writing, disks, videos, plasticworks, and worked throughout Europe and South America and lives between Lisbon and Milan. In 1999-2017 (2015 PhD) she studied at the Italy France e Portugal. Member: UTAD-IADE-GEOSCIENCE GROUP.


400,000 years ago began the history of color, at a time that the first cultural use of color was made for the decoration of the body.

The use of ocher used as dye in wall paintings, movable works, body decorations in the Paleolithic in Europe, during the middle, gets remarkably intensified in the Musterian burial rituals. During the Upper Paleolithic its use is linked to the color Red, blood, life, death.

Human beings that lived in the Middle Stone Age have employed ritual pigments at least 400,000 years ago: this is the result of the excavations of Prof. L. Barham of the University of Liverpool, who during the course of campaigns carried out at the end of the 90s by the Twin Rivers caves in Zambia (Central Africa), has found fragments.

Daughter of Nut and Geb, Sister of Nephite, Seth and Osiris, who she was also married with and father of her son Horus. According to The myth, told in the texts of the Pyramids and Plutarch, tells that Isis and Osiris with the help of his sister Nefti, assembled Osiris’s body parts, bringing him back to life. For this reason it was considered a divinity associated with Magic and extinction.

His name means Asset, throne in his hieroglyphic, associated with royalty, heavenly goddess of motherhood and Fertility in Egyptian mythology.

The Sign of the Gabrielli Editori 2004 S. P in Cariano VR

Mircea E. (1984), Images and Symbols Jaca Book Milano Pg 124-126




How to Cite

Tallarita, A. L. (2017) “Red: the symbol in history”, Cultura e Scienza del Colore - Color Culture and Science, 7, pp. 07–11. doi: 10.23738/ccsj.i72017.01.