A visual exploration of the evolution of primary colour terms in language through the imagery of alchemy and the alchemical processes of nigredo, albedo and rubedo - in Greek melanosis (blackening), leukosis (whitening) and iosis (reddening).
From the primary colour triad a fourth emerges known as citrinitas - in Greek xanthosis (yellowing).
The vertical division of white-red-black becomes a horizontal division of the mandala and medicine wheel with the colours oriented to the Four Directions.
The multicolored iridescence of the cauda pavonis (“peacock’s tail”) arises from the rubedo (“reddening”) as grue - green/blue - emerges as mineral pigments from the red metal copper.
The additive colour triad of red-green-blue (RGB) now enables the full spectrum of hues on our digital displays.
The Arabic word which became the basis for the English words alchemy and chemistry was originally a reference to the Black Land, Kem, which is now called Egypt.
Egypt itself is from the Greek version of the name of the major city of Hw.t-Ka-Ptah ("The House of the Ka of Ptah".)
Here is how it was written in the ancient Egyptian hieratic script and in linear-cursive script :
Alchemy al-khīmiyā 錬金術 अल्केमी 炼金术 (from the Arabic الكيمياء al-khīmiyā' )
white : silver
yellow : gold
red : copper
blue : tin
black : lead