History of Charleston’s Haint Blue

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Have you ever noticed that porches in Charleston usually have a light blue paint upon their ceilings? The Gullah Geechee descendants of the enslaved African planters thought that soft, blue-green paint would keep the “haints,” or evil spirits, away. 

The belief of Blue Haint’s protection stems from cultural influences originating from Barbados. Yes, Barbados. Did you know that Charleston became a colony of this island? Here you can learn how this came about when the British landed in Barbados in 1627, where they settled + developed sugarcane plantations– which were largely operated by enslaved Africans + indentured servants. 

This settlement brought along many island aesthetics + beliefs from Barbados, including Blue Haint. It is believed that Gullah people combined milk, indigo dye, lime + other pigments to create this special blue paint known to ward off bad spirits. Some also believe the blue paint can be used as a bug repellent because of the lime in the mixture, which can be a natural insect deterrent. More haint blue historic ties can be found here.

In today’s era, you can even find paint companies selling colors within the “Haint Blue” spectrum. Next time you are standing on a porch in the Lowcountry, look up. What color do you see? Haint Blue just might be offering you some protection.

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