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Colours of mourning

Black or grey, are the colours we take for granted when it comes to mourning. In the Middle Ages, however, white was also a common colour for mourning clothes. And elsewhere in the world, next of kin remember their loved ones in white, yellow, red or sky blue. The history of mourning colours in a nutshell.

  • Anne de Bretagne kiest voor zwart als rouwkleur

    Not white but black

    When the mourning Queen Anne de Bretagne of France dressed in sombre black in 1498, she caused a stir. Queens in France traditionally mourned in ‘pure’ white. But the 22-year-old’s grief was so great that in her eyes only black was suitable as a colour of mourning. read more >>

  • Mourning etiquette according to Queen Victoria

    From the 16th century onwards, an increasingly elaborate mourning etiquette developed in Europe. Detailed rules for clothing, social contacts and behaviour in the period of mourning after a death emerged, a development that reached its peak in the middle of the 19th century. Especially the English Queen Victoria read more >>

  • Other colours of mourning

    In the Western world, black has been the colour of mourning since the nineteenth century, but in other parts of the world people sometimes think very differently. For example, in Japan, China and many countries in South-East Asia, white has traditionally been the appropriate colour for mourning. By wearing black, people in those countries are showing their  read more >>