In response to last week’s post, Why red?, my close friend and anthropologist to the stars (marketing stars, that is) , Tom Maschio wrote a comment that was so interesting I had to post it.
Please read below.
In Polynesia and Melanesia red is a sign of Mana – effectiveness, force, power.  Where I worked in Papua New Guinea, initiates who were undergoing a ritual augmenting of the self (during initiation rituals – acquiring knowledge, being sung growth promoting magical songs, etc) had their bodies streaked with red dye from various plants and seeds.  They were developing, acquiring power and this was signaled and represented by the color red.

Appears to be 2 aspects or dimensions to any symbol, as you suggest. First, an abstract ideological dimension or pole, with the symbol –in this case the color symbol red- standing for certain abstract values. Then there is the sensory pole of the symbol. This references or evokes immediate feelings and associations, vivid physiological sensations. Red seems to map back to a host of sensory experiences: seeing a ripe red fruit like an apple or strawberry, signaling  development, completeness ripeness the apogee of development.  Also, to the experience of heat – red hot fire has the power to destroy or transform, slightly dangerous. Blood, life energy contained in our blood – an archetypal idea, common to many cultures.

Still – unsure about arguing for a universal meaning for the color red.


He’s brilliant, no?!

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