What the Color ‘Haint Blue’ Means to the Descendants of Enslaved Africans

Culture March 31, 2022 Culture
What the Color ‘Haint Blue’ Means to the Descendants of Enslaved Africans

A haint blue porch ceiling

From Get Pocket | Atlas Obscura by Shoshi Parks

In the Lowcountry, the unique shade is both protective talisman and source of unspeakable suffering.

In Beaufort County and elsewhere in the Lowcountry of South Carolina and Georgia, blue had the power to protect enslaved Africans and their descendants, known as the Gullah Geechee, from evil spirits. But the color was also the source of incomparable suffering. Indigo helped spur the 18th-century transatlantic trade, resulting in the enslavement of thousands.

This “haint blue,” first derived from the dye produced on Lowcountry indigo plantations, was originally used by enslaved Africans, and later by the Gullah Geechee, to combat “haints” and “boo hags”—evil spirits who escaped their human forms at night to paralyze, injure, ride (the way a person might ride a horse), or even kill innocent victims.

Photo by Lake Lou / Wikimedia Commons /CCBY

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