“Coral has the beauty of the rose, the color of blood, the clarity of crystal, the heat of fire”
– Vittorio G. Rossi
Coral has been the subject of human research since ancient times, capable of exciting with its shapes and colors, it is a marine organism that belongs to the animal kingdom. The famous red color is given by single-celled algae called zooxanthellae that live in symbiosis with the coral colony and give rise to shades of red that have always enchanted cultures around the world. Coral and its color have settled into the traditions, art and history of peoples since ancient times, adorning the bodies and lives of people from different social classes
. Colors have always been part of our daily lives, but we rarely stop to reflect on the primary role they play in our life. In particular, we will consider the colors of coral, from red to pink to white. The color red, found mostly in Mediterranean corals, is one of the colors with the densest and oldest meaning, symbolizing love, passion, and strength. It is the color of seduction and represents life and blood. To the American Indians it meant joy and fertility while to the Egyptians it represented the reflection of life, earth, victory but also the wrath or fury of the gods. In marketing, this color is used for its ability to stand out to the eye and attract attention, which is why it is the second most used color.
Pink and white, colors which corals from the Pacific are tinged with, symbolize purity and innocence and evoke primal and unconditional love. These colors usually have a positive connotation; they are vitalizing colors and promote openness to others and forgiveness. After having briefly described the meanings of some of the colors of coral, now we turn to the benefits of coral and the emotions that it arouses in the human mind.
BENEFITS AND EMOTIONS RELATED TO CORAL
Several physical and mental benefits revolve around coral: it combats negativity, nervousness, fear, depression, and improves blood circulation and the strengthening of bone structure. Coral helps overcome conflicts between emotions and instincts and is a bringer of balance. It seems that women in ancient Rome wore coral earrings to attract love, and Egyptians used to scatter coral on the ground to protect their crops.
The apotropaic value of coral was popularized especially by the myth of Medusa: according to Ovid, red coral was born from the blood that gushed from the head of Medusa, who, beheaded by Perseus, touching the sea foam, had petrified some seaweed, which turned in red with the blood. This is how the Red Coral of the Mediterranean was born. Having been born from a gorgon even today Coral is also called “gorgonian”. Moreover, for those who believe in the evil eye, a coral jewel is the remedy to ward off evils of all kinds.
Not everyone knows that there is a special relationship between women and coral. Coral, throughout history, has been a protagonist of women’s emancipation. In the late 1700s the Bourbons enacted the Coral Code, which regulated coral fishing in the Torre del Greco area.
Many women were employed to work coral in factories and had the chance to redeem themselves from poverty and social marginalization. Coral, then, not only embellishes women’s (as well as men’s) bodies with vivid colors that exude charm, confidence, and sophistication. However, it has been a true protagonist of history, deftly juggling historical periods, myths, and cultures, and even today, together with its colors and the emotions it arouses at the sight, it is an evergreen destined to never be eradicated.