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BHAYANAKA (FEAR)
SHAANTA (CALM)
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Showcase 31 Jan 2013

The Colours of Navarasa - Bhayanaka & Shaanta

In the last issue, our series on the Colours of Navarasa explored the two Rasas, Haasya (Joy) and Karuna (Compassion), unravelling their contrasting and complex nature through colour associations. The third article in this series will focus on the Rasas Bhayanaka (Fear) and Shaanta (Calm).

BHAYANAKA (FEAR)

Fear, a negative emotion, being cross-cultural and universal is an important area of study. It is a fundamental emotion that is felt from a very early age across different species. It is not complex as it is effortlessly understood and easily identifiable. The linkage between colour and the emotion of Fear are explored through two categories, archetypal—which are biological, innate, or generic associations, and experiential—which are learned, acquired, or personal associations. 

Archetypal Associations 

Blacks and greys are predominantly associated with Fear. This can be attributed to the physiological reaction of “colour draining from one’s face when scared,” thus the phrase “turning ashen.” Black is a direct reference  to darkness and a fear of the unknown. Strong, intense reds are also associated with Fear. Reds are attributed to the physiological  phenomena of blood pumping fast and  increased heart rates. It has been noticed  that a higher saturation of red results in a higher degree and intensity of emotion.

Experiential Associations 

The study of personal experiences of Fear in our research was extremely interesting. Many respondents picked up on the universality of this emotion and associated the colour white to it, referring to the whites of the eyes, where fear manifests and is most identifiable. As opposed to black, the colour white is also used to signify a fear of the unknown as seen from a spiritual perspective. There is a presence of inky blues in this category, which refers to a fear of dark nights and deep waters.

The emotion of Fear is not complex but is very intense. It evokes direct associations with concepts that people are scared of, for example, blood and darkness. The universality of this emotion and the subconscious associations of colours are very interesting.

BHAYANAKA (FEAR)
SHAANTA (CALM)

SHAANTA (CALM) 

Calm or tranquility has most often been associated with nature. Waking up to green fields, or drinking tea with a view of the mountains, or a simple zen garden is the epitome of serenity for many people.  Interestingly, associations with Calm are not as nature related as we would expect, although the colours might be. They are further explored through the two categories of archetypal and experiential associations.

Archetypal Associations 

Pastels are important to the emotion of Calm. Baby blues, pale pinks, and light purples  dominate this category. Blues are associated with healing, peace, sleep, childhood, and  nostalgia. Pinks have very powerful association with maternal figures and comfort. Purples are dichotomous colours with undertones of reds and blues, which are opposite colour families. Tints of purple represent the energy of red and a resurgence of vitality, while the calmness of blue is associated with peace and sleep. 

Experiential Associations 

The presence of darker purples and saturated browns refer to the calmness of being in solitude. Private awareness, desires, and dreams can be used to define calm experi- ences within experiential associations.  Many colours associated with Calm are described as pure or incorruptible colours

 

While there are no direct references to nature, the colours themselves are resonant of the environment. For most of us, Calm is quite close to comfort, and therefore links to maternal figures and feminineness emerge innately. Dreams, childhood, sleep, and water are identifiable triggers that evoke feelings of peace. The mental associations with these colours would be healing, peaceful, and comforting.


IMAGES

• Daniel R. Blume » flickr.com/photos/drb62/3104224796/

• Tanaka Juuyoh » flickr.com/photos/tanaka_ juuyoh/4680217868/

Dancer Images
• All images courtesy Bhavna Vijai, disciple of Anupama Jayasimha