House Design Tells A Forgotten History Lesson

Haint blue victorian porch ceiling
via Flickr
Brooke Brown
February 4, 2020

Traveling through South Carolina and Georgia’s Lowcountry region, you might notice a pattern. Many homes proudly showcase porch ceilings, doors, and window treatments painted a specific color blue. 

The selection, many are surprised to learn, goes way deeper than a design preference.

The color symbolism honors many rich African spiritual traditions including honoring one Yoruba deity Iya Mapo

The Gullah Geechee people who call the Lowcountry home believed the color blue would protect their families against evil spirits (known as “haints”) conjuring up the illusion of (uncrossable) water. 

But that’s not all the appropriately named “haint blue” signifies.

In the 18th century, indigo plants produced coveted blue dye. Its production drove the economy of colonial-era South Carolina with a value that far exceeded cotton. 

Its rich tones serve as a reminder of the atrocities committed against enslaved laborers on indigo plantations.

In spite of the historic wrongs perpetrated against their ancestors behind this rare dye, a reclamation movement is rising.

By resurrecting the for-a-time-forgotten textile craftsmanship, as well as Yoruba and Hoodoo spiritual traditions, and maintaining enduring rituals (i.e. painting a porch ceiling blue), residents hope to pay homage to the past in the present.

We have a quick favor to ask:

PushBlack is a nonprofit dedicated to raising up Black voices. We are a small team but we have an outsized impact:

  • We reach tens of millions of people with our BLACK NEWS & HISTORY STORIES every year.
  • We fight for CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM to protect our community.
  • We run VOTING CAMPAIGNS that reach over 10 million African-Americans across the country.

And as a nonprofit, we rely on small donations from subscribers like you.

With as little as $5 a month, you can help PushBlack raise up Black voices. It only takes a minute, so will you please ?

Share This Article: