Liberal Arts Blog — The Power of Green: St. Patrick’s Day, the Saudi flag, the US $
Liberal Arts Blog — Friday is the Joy of Art, Architecture, Film, Design, and All Things Visual Day
Today’s Topic: The Power of Green (cont): St. Patrick’s Day, the Saudi flag, the US $
Green has so many meanings. The color of envy, greed, and hope. The color of environmentalists. Of Islam. Of Ireland and the US$. The color of Robin Hood and Sherwood forest. The color of casino tables and billiards. The color of Green Cards. Of Christmas trees and traffic lights. After two posts on the color green in painting (from Van Eyck and Da Vinci to Monet and Yiadom-Bouakye), I now take the exploration of green to the world beyond painting — from Ireland and the US to Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, and Nigeria and the back of the US dollar bill (with due homage to William Lloyd Garrison and Isaiah the prophet). Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
DID YOU KNOW THAT THE CHICAGO RIVER IS DYED GREEN ON ST. PATRICK’S DAY?
1. Just learned this momentous factoid and thought I’d share it.
2. Do you wear green on St. Patrick’s Day?
3. The only other days with colors that I can think of off the top of my head are St. Valentine’s (red), the Fourth of July (red, white, and blue), and Christmas (red and green). What am I missing? Which tradition do you observe?
NB: Ireland is the “Emerald” isle. And the shamrock is of course green.
THE SAUDI, PAKISTANI, NIGERIAN, BRAZILIAN FLAGS
1. For 34 years (1977–2011), the flag of Libya was the world’s only monochromatic flag. It was green. The color of Islam. Other Islamic countries with green as the predominant color are Pakistan and Saudi Arabia (above).
2. Non-Islamic countries with green as a prominent color are Nigeria (two green vertical stripes with a white one in between) and Brazil (green background, yellow rhombus containing a blue disc with a starry sky and a band across the disc with the country’s motto — “order and progress.”
3. In the Nigerian flag, the green symbolizes the national forests and natural wealth, the white stands for peace.
NB: The green in the Brazilian flag is the color of the House of Barganza, the family of Brazil’s Emperor Pedro I (1798–1834), also known as the “liberator” and the “soldier king.” The motto on the band surrounding the blue disc is from the positivist French philosopher Auguste Comte: “L’amour pour principe, l’ordre pour base, progres le but..” (Love the principle, order the foundation, progress the goal.)
THE COLOR OF MONEY AND THE CRYPTIC MESSAGE
1. Did you ever look really closely at the one-dollar bill?
2. Did you ever notice the words above the pyramid with the eye?
3. The words are “Annuit Coeptis.” Do you know what they mean?
NB: Embarrassing confession. Even with a PhD in American civilization (1982), I had not noticed these words until about age 50 (2003). And although I had taken 5 years of Latin, I could not translate the two words without heading to the encyclopedia. What I found out: the eye is the eye of Providence and “annuit coeptis” means he has “given the nod” to our “undertakings.” Loosely: “God is on our side.” Abolitionist William Garrison had a counterpoint, calling the Constitution an “a covenant with death and an agreement with hell” — a biblical reference to Isaiah 28:15. In his speech of 1854 he called for a dissolution of the Union as it was founded on this abomination.
So what’s your favorite green painting? Your favorite color in painting? Favorite three examples of such? Please share the coolest thing you learned recently or ever related to art, sculpture, design, architecture, film, or anything visual.
This is your chance to make someone else’s day. And to cement in your own memory something cool or important you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than you otherwise would about something that is close to your heart.