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Name the color?


First of all – thank you for your sweetest comments regarding our ‘news’. :)  Of course I will keep posting, at least that’s my intention. And regarding this – here’s a theme I wanted to share with you for a while now.

This thought occured to me about a month ago as I was looking at my nail varnish. It was just sitting there on the kitchen counter waiting to be used and I am a bit lazy about putting my stuff to where it belongs, so it had been there for maybe a couple of days. I checked the ingredients (my obsession – reading lists of ingredients on everything we use and eat) and than I remembered that some brands name their shades of varnishes like “Pink crystal” or “Sheer innocence” or similar. I checked this specific one and it had no name, so this got me thinking, what would I call it’s colour. It’s a nice, deep red coulour. Not shimmering, a bit like sour-cherry. I started thinking about adjectives to go with sour-cherries and … And than – a sparkle from the past lit in my mind :)

I love red. In all its shades.

I love red. In all its shades. Photo: Grasswire


Some of my ex-Yugoslav readers will maybe fill the gap immediately, since I mentioned sour-cherries. Or maybe you are already laughing, thinking “…. ooo, yeees, we’ve had one of those, to.”

To those of you who don’t share our Yugoslav cultural and imaginative experience here’s a bit of introduction.

One of the legendary Yugoslav cars was Yugo. It was manufactured in the factory called Zastava, located in Southern Serbia, one of the six republics od our ex-homeland. This was a car owned by many families in the 1980’s, I believe I am not exaggerating when I say it was our national family car of that decade. Also, one peculiar detail about is the fact that it was exported to USA where they were sold in those ‘buy one get two’ deals (meaning – you bought a ‘decent’ car and got one Yugo extra).  
This car was one of the products that you’d have to pre-order, pay in advance and wait for several months till they assemled it and you could actually lay your hands on its plastic-feeling ochre, black or grey steering wheel. Of course, there were several ways of how to “fool” the system and get in the line before others, and also there were jokes and popular sayings about Yugo. All in all I think it is an icon of the time.
I am not going to write more about the car, if you’re interested about finiding out more you can start your search at Wikipedia, Youtube and Leksikon-Yu-Mitologije (Serbo-Coratian only).

Of course my family also had a Yugo. We had to travel about 600 kilometers to get it  (one of the methods ensuring shortened waiting period). And the colour of the car was deep red – very common and in my opinion one of the shades that Yugo looked its best in. 

As I was thinking about the name of the varnish the name of Yugos colour sprang up.  Do you know how that specific tone was called? It was named Rotten Sourcherry.

Yes. The shade was named “Rotten sourcherry”.
In Serbo-Croatian it doesn’t even sound that terrible, but once translated into English it’s so prosaic I could cry. Imagine – there are so many possibilities how to name a  beautiful colour and somebody somewhere decided that they’d name it Rotten Sourcherry.

Here’s an imaginative converstation between two people:

A: “Oh, that’s a beuatiful car you’ve got there. I love that blue color!!”

B: “Yes, we just bought it. It’s really comfortable. We’ve had a lot of trouble deciding which colour to choose, but in the end we settled for Adriatic Blue.”

A: ” It really suits this model. However, my favourite is Rotten Sourcherry.”

As I was sitting on this thought for a while, thinking about beauty (of the world, or strictly beuaty as a marketing term) and the words decribing, it occured to me that symbolic namings reveal ideals of the time they are produced in.

Maybe naming a colour Rotten Sourcherry was one of the first (figurative) messages that there was something rotten in our homeland? The name is exact (probably that’s the colour of rotten sourcherries…), and its’ so direct and unpretentious it doesn’t even bother trying to be something else. Once we’ve started naming the colours that way and people started treating those names as normal everything went down the hill.

I didn’t do any further research, but I wonder how they named a certain shade of ochre, seen on Zastava 128, also a model of the same factory? ;)

P.S. Of course, our first car was Yugo. My father bought it to me in 1998.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. 11/06/2009 08:26

    Ha,ha, ha… you made me laugh. We actually still have a lot of rotten sourcherry yugos driving around. And not only yugos but also stojadins, an icon in its own right too :) I believe the blue-grey, sage colour was called ‘Mexican blue”, and my family’s stojadin was “champagne yellow”.

    I like the photo!

  2. 11/06/2009 09:14

    I just love your blog! You write so vivid that I actually can see the scenery.

    See you soon again!

  3. 11/06/2009 22:29

    Rotten Sourcherry

    hahhahahahha ti si blesava :))))

    Mi smo imali “STOKECA” Zastavinog u toj boji! A ja imam i isti S-he lak za nokte! ;-)

  4. 12/06/2009 07:34

    He, he, he i mi smo imali stojadina u toj boji, a kad sam počela da se zabavljam sa mojim sadašnjim mužem on je imao isto stojadina, ali u “mexico plavoj”. Kakvo sećanje:)!

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