Why did ancient warriors paint themselves blue?

Posted by admin on February 9th, 2012 and filed under Ancient Painting | 10 Comments »

Why did merlin paint himself blue, why did braveheart to?

There are many tactics used in battle. The most effective (according to Napoleon) is the psychological aspect of it.

An example being with the longbow and the gunpowder age. The longbow was much more effective at killing, it could be used from a long distance, it was more accurate, and in general, it was a lot better (in terms of killing) than the rifles around at the time. However, when soldiers were up against it, an arrow that went *doink doink doink* wasn’t very intimidating when put up against a *BANG BANG BANG* coming from rifles. When you add the psychological factor, the muskets were much more effective. Napoleon knew this, and exploited it.

To a lesser extent, that is why many armies had bagpipes playing while marching, and especially the drums. Any loud noise would begin to demoralize the enemy. Hence the drums and war cries. We’ve all got the fight or flight instinct, and all of the loud noise only serves to make us choose the ‘flight’ instinct.

This is also why (back to the original point) that people painted themselves. It served to demoralize the enemy (they were fighting with something that didn’t look human), and it served to confuse them. Many cultures had war paint, however in the case of Braveheart (William Wallace’s campaign in Scotland/England), it was for demoralizing.

10 Responses

  1. Barack Obama Says:

    because they finished watching the avatar movie
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  2. J$mooTH Says:

    To intimidate the enemy of course
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  3. the wondering dew Says:

    wode blue….was one of the only colours around in scotland at the time
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  4. Graeme Says:

    There are many tactics used in battle. The most effective (according to Napoleon) is the psychological aspect of it.

    An example being with the longbow and the gunpowder age. The longbow was much more effective at killing, it could be used from a long distance, it was more accurate, and in general, it was a lot better (in terms of killing) than the rifles around at the time. However, when soldiers were up against it, an arrow that went *doink doink doink* wasn’t very intimidating when put up against a *BANG BANG BANG* coming from rifles. When you add the psychological factor, the muskets were much more effective. Napoleon knew this, and exploited it.

    To a lesser extent, that is why many armies had bagpipes playing while marching, and especially the drums. Any loud noise would begin to demoralize the enemy. Hence the drums and war cries. We’ve all got the fight or flight instinct, and all of the loud noise only serves to make us choose the ‘flight’ instinct.

    This is also why (back to the original point) that people painted themselves. It served to demoralize the enemy (they were fighting with something that didn’t look human), and it served to confuse them. Many cultures had war paint, however in the case of Braveheart (William Wallace’s campaign in Scotland/England), it was for demoralizing.
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  5. Kevin7 Says:

    Ancient Celts did that to be fierce and scary
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  6. Naz F Says:

    Good question. When you think about it, blue is probably the worst choice for war paint, because it is a CALMING color. It doesn’t provide good camouflage, and (unlike red) is hard to see from a distance; making it very difficult for a general to lead his troops from the rear. So it was probably for practical reasons; perhaps it was the cheapest/most common dye available.
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  7. Abraham Rabinowitz Says:

    Cause they were depressed and feeling blue about losing.
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  8. JOHN Says:

    Blue is the British Colour and it comes from woad used for tattoos, face paints and dye.

    http://www.woad.org.uk/

    Gorsth Kernow – members of the Druidic Order of Kernow (Cornwall) wear woad blue robes.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1a3yxJvOqh8

    This next link will give you the astonishing truth about the origins of the British people – we are far more ancient than our history books tell us and we have not changed one little bit in all the thousands of years we’ve been here.

    http://www.bradshawfoundation.com/stephenoppenheimer/origins_of_the_british.html

    Of course, being a free people, we can call ourselves anything we like, but to deny there is such a thing as the British Race is not based upon science but more upon a fantasy.

    British Art at it’s very best – the beautiful Battersea Shield – placed with loving care into the waters of the River Thames by a British Chieftain – this was never used in Battle – it is a sacred object.
    http://www.bellchamber.net/catalogue/rings/PhotoBatterseaShield.jpg

    Here’s something entirely British and it’s blue, but don’t tell the French – they think we only eat plastic cheese.
    http://www.stiltoncheese.com/
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  9. Mateo Says:

    The ancient Britons used woad as a warpaint and filled their hair with chalk dust to strike fear in to the hearts of their enemies.

    There were also practical purposes, since woad is a known astringent. It can heal fever and inflammation, and is reported to have anti-bacterial properties too – which is all good if you got injured in battle.

    FYI – Merlin is a fictional character, and Mel Gibson’s portrayal of William Wallace was also fictional.
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  10. Ragnar Says:

    The blue paint was woad, it was mainly for camouflage, it also had some medicinal qualities.

    Niether William Wallace, nor the original Braveheart, Robert the Bruce used woad, that practice had died out almost 1,000 before they were even born.

    Merlin wouldn’t have used woad either. There are two historical characters who are called Merlin; Ambrosius Aurelianus (Merlin Emrys) and Myrddin Wyllt (who may have been the same person as Lailoken).

    The first was a Roman officer who lead the Britons against the Anglo-Saxon invasion. The second was a pagan priest who according to legend had the power of prophecy. He was an advisor to a Briton King, until he advised him to commit to a battle that went disastrously wrong and his army was wiped out.

    Merlin/Lailoken went mad and spent the rest of his life as a wild hermit in the forests Scottish border lands. According to legend, he converted to Christianity and then was attacked by an angry mob, and drowned in the River Tweed.
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