Informal letter Q . Write a letter to your friend who is an art student discussing about the origin of colour. By Mulaika Iman


38 Creek Apartments,

 Collin Street,


Dear Sofia,

How are you? How is the little kitten you got to keep you company ? I hope that you are not missing me too much because if you are … well there is nothing that I can do. So I head u have settled in Paris and will star art school by next week. I am so excited for you. You always wanted to go to the best art school in Paris and now you are. It is like a dream come true!

Since you live alone now and probably miss the company of someone let me tell u about what I came cross. It was very interesting for me and I do think that your silly self  had never thought of it.

Thought about what? How colour was discovered or made?

So I was reading a fashion magazine that is released every month. This is my favourite magazine. It is so informative and entertaining. So they recently dedicated a section of the magazine to history. History of fashion and its evolution.

The article I read said that colours were not there from the beginning of the time. The only ones who possessed colour were the animals and nature.

Did u know the first colour other than black that would completely stay on fabric was no other than your favourite colour; purple!

It was discovered by a scientist who was trying to find a cure for malaria with coal tar and other scientific substances (that we will not be able to understand). So it was found by accident which was not so accident, I guess. I know it is slightly confusing.

So when he found that is was a very different coloured substance he had a sample dyed out of his curiosity and got it tested by a  group of dry cleaners who told him that the substance that he had created was one of a kind as it stayed on the fabric and stained perfectly every time unlike the other dull dyes of the time that faded quickly.

This was a turning point in history as the revolution of fashion had started from dark and dull and non-consistent colours to a beautiful shade of purple.

The scientist later gave up the study of science to have this introduced into the market and start a business. This was so successful and the people loved it so much that they developed measles for it.

The dyes first name was Tyrian purple and later changed to mauve.

Believe it or not, but the people were crazy for this. The Parisian designers started to use this in their haute couture.

Inspired by the impressive success, French and German artists and chemists and generally scientists started to work on making their own dyes.

Despite the evolution of the dye into Europe the dye it’s self-kept getting better. How?

First, it would only be subsistent on fabric like silk soon with a play with modrants, the colour was able to retain on cotton textiles too.

After this everyone wanted to get their hands on the coloured dresses.

Oh and did you know that purple symbolises royalty and nobility?  Maybe because it was invented in the royal times and was a luxurious.

However, is it not wonderful to see how the invention of just one colour in 1856 changed the world and modifies it into this bright and colourful universe from the universe if ‘purple birds of paradise’.

Remember the time we put paint on our hands and rubbed it on the freshly painted white wall in the backyard in both of our houses and then the wall was never repainted.  I miss our when we were together.

So later came a time when paintings and art were very famous and the artists required the best colours.  In the Middle Ages my favourite colour a brilliant shade of blue: ultramarine was the most desirable and precious colour.

It was made from a beautiful stone lapis lazuli. It was a very long process to make this colour as the stone would have to be mined from the mines of Afghanistan. It had to be delicately mixed and crushed as there was also a danger that the stone which was pricier than gold would loose its pigment.

To ensure the safety of the pigment its powder had to be mixed with wax and washed several times for its purity.

In some cultures the shades of blue were associated to spiritual healing, freedom and even royalty or holy.

So this shade was mostly used in painting the robes of the holy figures in churches.

The famous artist of the starry night painting, Vincent Van Gogh was also a fan of this shade. No wonder this shade of paint was highly valued.

Speaking of this colour reminds me of the time that we went to the berry farms on the country side and ate so many blue berries.

Yesterday, when I was talking to my aunt who recently went on a trip to India told me that widows in India do not wear colours after their husband’s death till their own death.

She also met a widow who wore a colour other than white after sixty years. Sixty years! That’s a very long time. And she wore the colours because her granddaughter who was not familiar with the Indian culture got her a pair of new trainers from Sydney.

It is getting late my silly best friend but I wish I could always talk to you and as that is not possible so I have no other way rather than to wait for your reply. Please do not forget to feed the kitten; it cannot even say anything to you.

Lots of love,


About froebelianwriters

I am an English Language teacher teaching O'Levels Edexcel and CIE A Levels at Froebel's International School, Islamabad. I am also working as a Subject Specialist Literacy consultant for the same school. Writing and reading has always been a passion and I try my utmost to instill these habits and hobbies in my students as well. I can be reached/contacted at or 03365287335 Happy reading!

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