They dressed him in a purple robe, and, having twisted a crown of thorns, put it on him,
come let’s play dolls
they won’t mind
see nothing there
a pretty purple robe
it only needs
a few drops of red
to make it pop
just a few thorns
does the trick
no need to overdo
Purple is a royal color, primarily because of the expense in making that particular shade of red. This may be an aspirational color carried out in a faded red cloak of a soldier.
Purple is also a color that is used or known differently in different cultures. In Ifugao it would be “a kind of blue” and in other translations it could only be identified in terms of something in nature, such as the color of some bird or flower (Bratcher482).
Regardless of the particulars, it can be understood that a mocking is going on.
Mark does connect clothing with identity, beginning with Baptizer John dressed as Elijah. Here the mocking of a royal color reveals more of Mark’s irony. What was intended to be a taunting is for the reader an inadvertent revelation of the importance of Jesus as a counter to Power, Gentile or Jewish.
While any play crown would do, there is an aptness to a crown that draws blood. Jesus can now say with some literalness, “This is my blood of a partnership with G*D that is shed for many. I will not drink wine again until I do so in a new way—in the fullness of G*D’s presence.”
Myers197 imagines this scene differently than political kingship:
Jesus is dressed up in a Roman military cloak and a “laurel wreath” of thorns, symbolizing the very militarism and imperialism he has resisted (15:16f). Mocking the whole notion that the Jews could be self-governing, the centurions subject Jesus to the humiliation reserved for political prisoners (15:18f). Only when they tire of their sadistic games do they turn to carry out Jesus’ sentence: death by crucifixion.
From those who lead a segment of leadership, the chief priests and Sanhedrin, to those who have larger leadership of an economic and military complex, to those who are implementers of their rule, it is unimaginable that business-as-usual can be done in any other fashion than control from the top-down. Anything else is evil personified and worthy of being impersonally disappeared.