Tyrian purple is a deep dark purple based on the color of an ancient pigment made from murex sea snails. Production of the pigment began as early as 1200 BC and was labor intensive but produced a high quality color-fast dye with a deep color. The pigment was so expensive that it became a symbol of social status in ancient Rome. The color of the dye was compared to the color of clotted blood and it tended to become lighter with time. In practice, there were many variations of Tyrian purple color, particularly as a fabric color. By the fourth century AD, sumptuary laws in Rome prohibited anyone but the Emperor from wearing Tyrian purple. This gave the color all the more social status such that it continued to symbolize high status institutions and individuals throughout the middle ages and up to the present day. The following are common variants of Tyrian purple with a few related colors.
Imperial Purple #2
Royal Purple #2
NotesAccording to Roman myth, Tyrian pigment and the color purple in general were discovered by Hercules's dog when she bit into a snail on a beach in Tyre in present day Lebanon.