Gold and purple

As the NBA fans have noticed, the title alludes to the Lakers colors. Both, gold and purple, cannot be more suitable to dress the glamorous angeleno team. The exclusiveness and luxury that they have always shown on the court are also represented in the clothing, at least if we understand the historical and symbolic overview of these colors and the products that make them available.

Nowadays, once chosen the shades for the equipment, we just need to resort to the appropriate industrial dyes and here we go! But, what if we had to outfit Los Angeles Lakers in Rome in the 3rd century, fulfilling strictly these 2 colors, gold and purple?

Although more affordable yellow pigments were known, in order to be rigorous we could use gold thread; in the form of sheets or rolled around silk or linen threads. In this case, things have not changed much, it isn’t complicated to imagine the possible cost. Playing at home would be expensive, don’t you think? and, what about the purple?


From the first millenium before Christ, and during several centuries, the main item distributed exclusively by the Phoenicians was the purple, as luxurious tissues dyed with it. In fact, the name of Phoenicians was given by the Greeks to their traders because they were the ones who sold the purple (phóinix). In Rome they were known, at the same time, with names that referred to “purple clothes”, as symbol of power and wealth.

The dye was obtained from the secretion of the murex brandaris gland, a typical snail of the Phoenician coast. One kg of that substance provided around 60g of dye; and, 200g were needed to dye one kg of wool. In order to get the 1 kg of secretion, 50.000 specimens were needed.

Ok, but, what about the price? During the time of Diocleciano 284-305 d.C.) – our Lakers could play in front of him in the Coliseum- , for 1 gram of pure dye between 10 and 20 grams of gold were paid out.

Given that scenario, even before signing the Kobe Bryant of that time, we had spent an imperial budget.