Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The Color That Keeps the Ghosts Away

I love knowing the crazy origins of everyday things. Take, for example, the blue shown above. You see this and similar "watery" hues throughout the Southern US. "Haint Blues," as they're called, are used to paint ceilings, shutters, and sometimes even entire buildings. They're lovely, of course, but they serve a surprising purpose.

Here's the story, via the wonderful blog Curious Expeditions . . .

Known as the Gullah or Geechee people, the original Haint Blue creators were descendants of African slaves who worked on rice plantations in South Carolina and Georgia. . . . They are well-known for preserving their African heritage more than any other African American community. They kept alive the traditions, stories, and beliefs of their ancestors, including a fear of haints.

Haints, or haunts, are spirits trapped between the world of the living and the world of the dead. These are not your quiet, floaty, sorrowful ghosts, they are the kind you don’t want to mess with, and the kind you certainly don’t want invading into your humble abode looking for revenge. Luckily, the Gullah people remembered an important footnote to the haint legend. These angry spirits have a kryptonite; they cannot cross water. The safest place would be in an underwater bubble, or perhaps to surround your house with a moat. But the Gullah people had a much more elegant solution. They would dig a pit in the ground, fill it with lime, milk, and whatever pigments they could find, stir it all together, and paint the mixture around every opening into their homes. The haints, confused by these watery pigments, are tricked into thinking they can’t enter.

Awesome! Read more here.


Anonymous True_Dragon_Master said...

Cool. I wonder what those spirits do to you if they get in?

6:39 PM  
Anonymous UU said...

I bet those spirits would be mad if they figured out theyed been tricked?

How did the slaves get their masters (gosh, I hate saying that) to paint those colors. I'm pretty sure the masters ( D: )didn't want advice from their slaves.

7:06 PM  
Anonymous TicTac said...

that is smart! would never think lime and stuff would turn blue and be thick enough to stay on doors and stuff without looking clear! :]

8:44 PM  
Blogger Book Girl said...

I should paint my room like that!

9:45 PM  
Blogger vendetta said...

the spirits sound mean, but thats a pretty color. it works 2 ways: tricks evil spirits and adds a nice touch of color.

11:57 PM  
Anonymous Peacey said...

UU: Maybe they just painted their own dwellings? Would serve their m****** (I don't like it either) right XD

8:30 AM  
Blogger brave chickens said...


But I'm wondering the same thing as UU...

8:38 AM  
Blogger Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City said...

UU: I believe this tradition would probably have caught on once the people were free. But you should read about the Gullah people.

Their history is fascinating.

8:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is my first comment ever! im excited =]

10:30 AM  
Blogger Reel Dancer said...

coolio! i like paint. weird a big group of people on horses just walked past my house...I'm kinda scared...

1:05 PM  
Anonymous EQ said...

I've noticed that a lot of traditions about tricking ghosts/spirits/genies/whatever from various cultures seem to assume that the whatevers are stupid. Maybe because dead people no longer keep their brains in their heads full-time?


6:03 PM  
Anonymous SAMEANONYMOUS said...

I think that someone just needed a exuse for having a dream of living in a underwater buble house. But that again who wouldn't want that? Also, love the colour!!!

9:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

when do you think you'll publish Kiki 3?

10:06 PM  
Blogger Kitty said...

*GASP* Great idea!! 8D

Reel Dancer: YOU CAN WUP THEIR BUTT WHEN THEY COME TO KIDNAP YOU!! XD Nah, they're probably just normal people [that happens around my place alot.. But then again, I live in a very rural place... Oo']

12:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi! Um, I just have to pass this exiting knowledge on, and although you probably already have known about it for ages, I can't risk that it falls into the depts of Forgotten Things. I know you are a New Yorker, and I suppose that I'm way behind since I just discovered this. But anyway.

Improv Everywhere. You MUST check it out on youtube. I'm serious, you HAVE to see it. I'm saying this since it is so amazing, and yet I've never seen it on your blog, so... yeah. I just think it all goes in the style of this blog (even though it's nothing unnatural about it, exempt it's awesomeness). Since there is a tiny chance that it has gone past your presence and been stored in your unconcious mind, I will mmake sure that it is noticed (mahaha). And sorry for writing all this in a comment, I didn't know where else to send it... When you're on youtube, I'm recommending you to look at "Look Up More", "Frozen Grand Central" and "Food Court Musical". It will make you happy.

8:15 AM  
Anonymous SAMEANONYMOUS said...

anonymous: yah, remided her 'bout a year ago of I.E. just reveiw older posts. but I agree, they've done alot since then, expecialy the caffee muisical or whatever it was called.

12:56 PM  
Anonymous ~chanel~ said...

When I was in South Carolina in June, I visited this plantation that was owned by some dude who signed the Declaration of Independence or whatever, and the main house's porch was painted haint blue. I don't think it really worked though because the tour guide said that the house is haunted anyway. The new owners that live there hear men with British accents talking in the halls and a lady lives in the attic. The two cats there just stare at the attic like they're looking at her. I followed their gaze and didn't see anyone though. :(

5:06 PM  
Anonymous nora said...

Awesome. I knew that painting my room blue was a good idea. :)

6:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sameanonymous: ok, then I can finally rest in peace :) thanks for supporting my thought!

6:51 AM  
Anonymous sad girl said...

hmmmmmmm my mom would freak if i painted my room that color. she believes in neutral colors. my dad on the other hand..... well, he's letting my brother paint his room a shimmery gold color that is TOO ugly for me. if you go to Lowes and look at the paint colors find a gold that is called "Gold Leaf".

4:41 PM  

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