There are 196 countries in the world today, and virtually none of them have purple on their national flag. Throughout history, purple was never used to represent a kingdom, civilization, or empire. So what's wrong with purple? It's such a popular color today. Why would no country use it in their flag?
現今世界上有 196 個國家，而幾乎沒有任何一個國家的國旗上有紫色。縱觀歷史，紫色從來沒有被用來代表一個王國、文明或是帝國。那到底紫色有什麼問題呢？它在今日是如此受歡迎的顏色。為什麼沒有國家要在它們的國旗上使用它呢？
The answer is really quite simple: Purple was just far too expensive. No countries have purple on their flag because up until the 1800s, purple was worth more than its weight in gold. The color purple has been associated with royalty, power, and wealth for centuries. In fact, Queen Elizabeth I forbade anyone except close members of the royal family to wear it.
Purple's elite status stems from the rarity and cost of the dye originally used to produce it. The dye, initially used to make purple, came from the Phoenician trading city of Tyre, which is now in modern day Lebanon. Fabric traders obtained the dye from a small sea snail that was only found in the Tyre region of the Mediterranean. A lot of work went into producing the dye as more than 10,000 snails were needed to create just one gram of Tyrian purple.
Since only wealthy rulers could afford to buy and wear the color, it became associated with the imperial classes of Rome, Egypt, and Persia. Purple also came to represent spirituality and holiness because the ancient emperors, kings, and queens that wore the color were often thought of as gods or descendants of the gods. Sometimes, however, the dye was too expensive even for royalty. Third century Roman emperor Aurelian famously wouldn't allow his wife to buy a shawl made from Tyrian purple silk because it literally cost three times its weight in gold. A single pound of dye cost three pounds of gold, which is the equivalent of 56,000 dollars today. So since the sheer price of purple was so astronomically high, no one, not even the richest nations, could afford to have purple on their flag.
因為只有富有的統治者才買得起且穿得起這種顏色，它便被與羅馬、埃及，以及波斯的帝國階級聯想在一起。紫色也被當做靈性以及神聖的象徵，因為穿戴這種顏色的古代帝王、國王以及皇后通常都被視為神，或是神的後代。然而有時候，這種染料連皇室的人都覺得太貴。三世紀的羅馬皇帝奧勒良廣為人知的軼事之一，就是他不准他太太買一條由泰爾紫絲綢製成的披巾，因為它真的要花上同重量黃金的三倍價格才買得到。一磅的染料要花上三磅重黃金的價錢，那在現在來說就等同於 56,000 美金。就因為紫色超級無敵高的天價，沒有人，就連最有錢的國家也一樣，能負擔得起將紫色用在它們的國旗上。
The hue became more accessible to lower classes about a century and a half ago. In 1856, 18-year-old English chemist William Henry Perkin accidentally created a synthetic purple compound while attempting to synthesize quinine, an anti-malaria drug. He noticed that the compound could be used to dye fabrics, so he patented the dye, manufactured it, and got filthy rich. Purple dye was then mass produced, so just about everybody could afford it. The elite stopped valuing purple and the status symbol faded away, but the country flags remained the same. Since 1900, a handful of new national flags have been designed, and a few of them have opted to use purple on their flag. So don't be making any bets just yet.
大約在一個半世紀以前，較低階層的人才比較能取得這個顏色。在 1856 年時，18 歲的英國化學家 William Henry Perkin 意外地創造出合成的紫色化合物，那時他其實是要試著合成奎寧，一種抗瘧疾藥物。他注意到這種化合物可以被用來染布，所以他就取得這染料的專利、大量製造它，然後變得超有錢。紫色染料接著被量產，幾乎所有人都負擔得起了。菁英們不再珍視紫色，而那地位象徵也隨之褪去，但是國旗仍然維持不變。從 1900 年起，陸續有一些新的國旗被設計出來，而它們當中有一些就選擇在它們的國旗上使用紫色。所以先別打任何賭吧。
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- 「實際上、事實上」- In Fact
In fact, Queen Elizabeth I forbade anyone except close members of the royal family to wear it.
- 「源自、由...造成」- Stem From
Purple's elite status stems from the rarity and cost of the dye originally used to produce it.
- 「來自於、產自」- Come From
The dye, initially used to make purple, came from the Phoenician trading city of Tyre, which is now in modern day Lebanon.
- 「花在...上、投入...」- Go Into
A lot of work went into producing the dye as more than 10,000 snails were needed to create just one gram of Tyrian purple.
- 「逐漸消失、變弱」- Fade Away
The elite stopped valuing purple and the status symbol faded away, but the country flags remained the same.