The first recorded use of saffron as a color name in English was in 1200. It is considered as one of the important colour in Hinduism along with others such as red, blue and white, in which it is known as Bhagwa. The color has some significance in Buddhism; it is worn by the monks of the Theravada tradition. It is also an important symbolic color in India, where it was chosen in 1947 as one of the three colors of the Indian flag after the nation gained its independence.
In nature and culture
- Stigmas, or threads from flowers are plucked, piled, and dried.
- Saffron threads from Iran
- Theravada monk in Thailand
- The Flag of India since 1947 is saffron, white and green
Saffron in nature
- The saffron finch (Sicalis flaveola) is a tanager from South America and is common in both open and semi-open areas in lowlands outside the Amazon basin.
History and politics
The National Flag of India is officially described in the Flag Code of India as follows: "The color of the top panel shall be India saffron (Kesari) and that of the bottom panel shall be India green. The middle panel shall be white, bearing at its centre the design of Ashoka Chakra in navy blue color with 24 equally spaced spokes." Deep saffron approximates the color of India saffron. India saffron, white and what is now called India green were chosen for the three bands, representing courage and sacrifice, peace and truth, and faith and chivalry respectively.
- In Sanatan Dharma (Hinduism), the deep saffron color is associated with sacrifice, religious abstinence, quest for light and salvation. Saffron or bhagwa is the most sacred color for the Hindus and is often worn by sanyasis who have left their home in search of the ultimate truth.
- Buddhist monks in the Theravada tradition typically wear saffron robes (although occasionally maroon—the color normally worn by Vajrayana Buddhist monks—is worn). (The tone of saffron typically worn by Theravada Buddhist monks is the lighter tone of saffron shown above.)
- The Maratha Confederacy used "Jari Patka" as their flag. It is a saffron swallow tail flag, with sometimes added red/golden frilled border.
- Sikhs use saffron as the background color of the Nishan Sahib, the flag of the Sikh religion, upon which is displayed the khanda in blue.
- The Gates is a site-specific art installation by Christo and Jeanne-Claude. The artists installed 7,503 metal "gates" along 23 miles (37 km) of pathways in Central Park in New York City. From each gate hung a flag-shaped piece of deep saffron-colored nylon fabric. The exhibit ran from February 12, 2005 through February 27, 2005.
- Saffron-colored cloth had a history of use among the Gaelic-Irish. A saffron kilt is worn by the pipers of certain Irish regiments in the British Army, and the saffron léine in the defence forces of the Republic of Ireland. The latter garment is also worn by some Irish and Irish-American men as an item of national costume (though most wear kilts, believing them to be Irish). Its color varies from a true saffron orange to a range of dull mustard and yellowish-brown hues. The Antrim GAA teams are nicknamed "The Saffrons" because of the saffron-colored kit which they play in. The Old Irish word for saffron, cróc,   derives directly from the Latin Crocus sativus. In Ireland between the 14th and 17th centuries, men wore léine  , a saffron-colored loose shirt that reached down to mid-thigh or the knee   . (see Irish clothing).
- The color saffron is associated with the goddess of dawn (Eos in Greek mythology and Aurora in Roman mythology) in classical literature:
Homer's Iliad : Now when Dawn in robe of saffron was hastening from the streams of Okeanos, to bring light to mortals and immortals, Thetis reached the ships with the armor that the god had given her. (19.1)
- Because Therevada Buddhist monks were at the forefront of the 2007 Burmese anti-government protests, the uprising has been referred to as the Saffron Revolution by some in the international media.
- In India, the terms Saffronisation and Saffron Brigade are used to refer to the Hindu nationalists.
- The Saffron Swastika is a 2001 book by Koenraad Elst that argues against the idea that the Hindu nationalists are fascists in the Western sense of the word.
- The color at the top of the Indian National Flag is a color officially called India saffron that is an orangish shade of saffron. On the Indian National Flag the color saffron is supposed to represent sacrifice and renunciation of materialism.
- In Rajasthani this color is called kay-ser-ia. The word derives its name from kesar, a spice crop from Kashmir.
- In the Pokémon games, there is a city named Saffron City.
Variations of saffron
Displayed at right is the color rajah.
Rajah is a bright deep tone of saffron.