Symbolism and the Meaning of Colour

Symbolism is at the heart of effective visual representation and colour is an important aspect of making meaning.

Colour is a key element and the Colour in Motion interactive site reveals how colour is used to convey meaning. The “meaning” of colour can also be culturally-specific. Use this site to explain the different associations of colours in various societies. The Paint Cafe also has a section of the symbolism of different coloursand explains how “every colour carries images and symbols that are influenced by culture, history and circumstances”.

Take the colours red and yellow, for example: What do they mean? What meaning is attributed to other colours? How does does the symbolism of colour change from culture to culture, according to these sites? After you have explored these sites explain how colour can be used to represent different emotions. Post your answers below.

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30 responses to “Symbolism and the Meaning of Colour

  1. Check out http://kuler.adobe.com for an interesting ake on colour, colour schemes and the popularity of colour by country and/or season

  2. _ Red means dynamic, vital, romantic, hot…
    _ Yellow means creative, brigth, curious…
    Every colours have a meanings, they all contribute to people something… People respond to different colour in diferent way.

    There are different meening to different colours in different culture. Like in America, Black is associated with death and white is signity life … In the Orient, white is the traditional color of mourning.
    In the Western Culture, purple and gold are often associated with Royalty. Green is resrepented the ecology, Blue, Red, White and Grey = Stability, Power…

    The colour can be used to represent different emotions in many different ways…If i use red, it will give an emotion of love or dynamic…yellow is the collour of joyful and brigth… As what emotion you want the audience to have when they look at your post, just use colour!!

  3. Colour is a meaningful and powerful tool to use to express and response emotionally throughout a use of variety colours such as (Red, Yellow, Green, Black, Blue, Orange and so on).
    Different countries and regions use colours to represent different things and different cultures respond differently to different colours and use the differently for different occasions.
    For an example: Orange and Black represent Halloween, Red and Green represent Christmas and Red, Orange, yellow and brown are clearly expressive of Thanksgiving.
    _______ RED AND YELLOW_______

    According to the Native American Colour symbolism, Red means communication and yellow means overcoming challenges through unconditional love while in Asian Colour Symbolism Red means Happiness, marriage, prosperity and Yellow means to against evil and for the dead. Although Vietnam’s one of the South-East Asian country but it represents the colour Red and Yellow differently to most of the Asian countries. Vietnamese people think Red is the colour of the blood and Yellow simply represents the colour of bones.

  4. Red:dynamic,vital,romantic,commanding,alert, rebellious,complimentary,visible,hot,and fun.
    Yellow:creative,young,visible,bright,cheerful, curious,coward,playful,nutritious,sick and expanding.
    Blue:technical,deep,free,educated,protective, peaceful,cold,clean,and formal.
    Purple:inteligent,aloof,royal,vain,fantastic, melancholic,feminine,fragrant,and solemn.
    Green:patient,natural,adventurous,relaxed, athletic,unfortunate,lucky,balanced,safe,and sharing.
    Orange:helpful,burning,cozy,abundant,flavorful,festive,active,excited,communicative,and inspriring
    As there are many cultures,colors’ meaning may change from culture to culture.For example,White in the US means life and purity,while in Orient,White is the color of mourning.

  5. Red: Stability, Power, Trustworthiness, Conservatism, active, impatient
    Yellow: more warmth, coward, curious, playful, active, dishonest
    Other colours each have its own meaning and depend on each people to understand or feel the colour in their own way
    Each culture adapts colours in different ways. Black colour while the White Mountain Apaches think that it represents for the east, where the sun rise while Asian culture think that back usually stand for evil. In Western culture Yellow is a warm colour and represents for heat, shine, love the Native American think that Yellow represents for trouble and strife
    The colour can be use to express many emotions but also depends on how people feel about it. You my use red to represent love to someone but they might think that it’s a sign of anger. If I use yellow as a flag I might catch attention of a girl but if I’m standing in front of a Native American they might think that I’m bringing trouble and strife to them. If I use colour in the cover I’d also concentrate on the shape or the info of what the cover is containing

  6. What do they mean? – Colours can represent a mood or characteristic of a person. Example like red represents heat, fire, high temper, power, romantics, and commanding when yellow represent creative, bright, cheerful, and playful.
    What meaning is attributed to other colours? – There is lots of different meaning depend on different culture. In western world, blue, red white and gray mean Stability, Power, Trustworthiness, and Conservatism. Yellow, Brown, Orange, Green mean Nature, earthiness, warmth. Red, Orange, yellow mean more warmth. Blues and Aqua mean water and coolness.

  7. How does the symbolism of colour change from culture to culture, according to these sites? – Colour from different culture change variously. It depends on people in different culture idea that pass on generation. As for Native American symbol, blue represented north which meant cold, defeat and trouble. White was south representing warmth, peace and happiness. Red was east, the colour of the Sacred Fire, blood, and success. West was black the colour meaning problems and death. Brown was good but yellow meant trouble and strife. But in Asia culture, it’s different, Red: Happiness, marriage, prosperity. Pink: Marriage. Yellow: Against evil, for the dead, geomantic blessings. Green: Eternity, family, harmony, health, peace, posterity. Blue: Self-cultivation, wealth. Purple: Wealth. White: Children, helpful people, marriage, mourning, peace, purity, travel. Gold: Strength, wealth. Gray: Helpful people, travel. Black: Career, evil influences, knowledge, mourning, penance, self-cultivation…

  8. In many asian cultures, red has to mean luck, happiness, love, passion, very often used in weddings and celebration. Yellow can symbolize royalty, wealthiness, successfulness, different colors can bring out different emotions to each individual person but there are still commons between people in different cultures, the relationship between colors and emotions are closely tied, for instance red is about energy and power, sometimes it indicates anger and yellow promote self-confidence and being optimistic .The colours of currency, traditions, celebrations etc.can affect a culture’s association of symbolic meaning.

  9. After you have explored these sites explain how colour can be used to represent different emotions. – Colour can be use to represent different colour because each of the colour have it own characteristic that suit each of the emotions. So we can use a certain colour which has a same characteristic with a emotion as a represented.

  10. Colours is an interesting subject, they have a great meaning for each of them.
    Red : Love or bloody
    White : the innocent.
    Blue : Peaceful and relaxing
    Green : resuscitate
    Pink : The youth
    Yellow : the Shine, betray
    Gray : the Old
    Black : powerful
    But with other culture the meaning might be different.

  11. •Use this site to explain the different associations of colours in various societies.
    •Different countries and regions use colours to represent different things. They are influenced by different cultures as they respond differently to each and specific colours.
    •Western Culture:
    •Purple and Gold stands for royalty. Both of these colors can also symbolize Easter.
    •Red, White and Blue is the color of the American’s flag which represents patriotism.
    •Colors can also represent holidays and times of the year.
    •Red, orange, yellow, and brown are colors of autumn and represents Thanksgiving. Halloween colours include orange and black. Christmas colours include red, green and white.
    •Blue, Red, White and Grey: authority, steadiness, dependability and patriotism.
    •Yellow, Brown, Orange, Green: nature/ecology, concerns for the environment, earthiness and warmth.
    •Red, Orange, yellow: extreme warmth like the hot weather and sun.
    •Blues and aquas: for calmness, water and coolness
    •Primary colours is a symbol for convey fun.
    •Asian Cultures:
    •Red: Happiness, marriage, wealth
    Pink: Marriage
    Yellow: good (against the evil), for the dead, blessings
    Green: Eternity, family, harmony, health, peace, posterity
    Blue: Self-cultivation, wealth
    Purple: Wealth
    White: Children, helpful people, marriage, mourning for the dead, peace, purity, travel
    Gold: Strength, wealth
    Gray: Helpful people, travel
    Black: Career, evil essence, guilty, knowledge, mourning, self-punishment, self-cultivation.
    •Native American cultures (Cherokee):
    Blue: North which meant cold, defeat and trouble.
    White: South representing warmth, peace and happiness.
    Red: East, the color of the Sacred Fire, blood, and success.
    West: Black the color meaning problems and death.
    Brown: Good
    • Yellow: Trouble and strife.
    Navajo culture:
    •The colors are associated with The Four Sacred Mountain and directions.
    •White: Mt. Blanca
    •Blue: Mt. Taylor
    Yellow: Mt. San Francisco Peaks
    •Black: Mt. Hesperus Dibé Nitsaa
    Sacred Colors of the White Mountain Apaches:
    White: North and snow.
    Yellow: East and sunrise.
    Green: South.
    Black: West and sunset.

  12. Yellow plays a role of your strongest ally when it comes to decoration if you need to brighten up a dark room or facing north. Yellow stands for the colour of sun, light or summer. In the Western culture, it is the representation for royalty, wealth and opulence. Throughout the centuries in the number of places, Yellow associates with the Emperors of some Asian cultures, Buddhist philosophy and in other images. It is a visible colour that catches attentions, used in traffic lights, in warning of the construction work and also used in advertising as a cheerful colour.
    Red excites our sense, associates with blood and medical first aid. Red is the colour for the passionate of love, sensuality or desire. Red is pleasurable and used in many children-orientated products like toys, balls, candies or garments etc. It is also a good choice to choose red to catch attentions, like in the streets, red is used in the traffic lights and some other warnings. Red stands for anger and aggressiveness as well as the emotions like embarrassment, shame.
    Green stands for patience, nature, adventures, relaxing, athletic, balance, safety and sharing.
    Blue stands for depth, freedom, education, protection, loneliness, peace, formality, coldness, cleanliness and authorisation.
    Purple stands for intelligence, luxury, art, royalty, vainness, fantasticality, melancholy and femineity.
    Depending on the places where the people are educated differently, the colours carry different meanings for different cultures. Those places are all around the world, so a colour has an enormous variety of perspectives.

  13. What do they mean? What meaning is attributed to other colours? How does does the symbolism of colour change from culture to culture, according to these sites?
    Yellow: activities, aspiration, alertness, brightness.
    Red: alertness, ambitious, aggressive, battle.
    The meaning is attributed to other colours of yellow: Active, cheerful, playful, clear, coward, dishonest, etc.
    The meaning is attributed to other colours of red: Ambitious, alert, aggressive, evil, angry, active, etc.
    The colour yellow changes from culture to culture: Hindu and Christian think that yellow is the truth. For Egypt, yellow means happiness and prosperity. In China, it is an imperial colour to worship the sky and in soccer, it is used for yellow cards and warning.
    In Native American colour symbolism, yellow stands for Love
    In Asian Colour Symbolism, yellow stands for against evil, for the dead, geomantic blessings
    The colour red changes from culture to culture: China and India think that red is a lucky colour. For Russia, red means revolution and communism. In England, it is used for buses and phone booths and for Japan and others, red is the flag.
    In Native American colour symbolism, red stands for Faith.
    In Asian Colour Symbolism, red stands for happiness, marriage, prosperity.

  14. Red is symbolise for blood, rebellious, dangerous, hot, hateful, romantic, happiness, stop, commanding, alert, maximum, vital, dynamic, brilliant, beauty, charm, emotive, angry, excitement, fire…
    Red in Vietnamese culture usually symbolise for happiness, beauty excitement, hot -also symbolise for blood [on the flag]
    Yellow is symbolise for creative, young, bright, cheerful, curious, cheerful, medium, visible, nutritious, gold, wealthy, king, sun, light, warmth, caution, energetic, old…
    In Vietnam, yellow represent wealthy, rich, gold, and warmth.
    Green Represent adventurous, patient, environment, plant, fresh friendship, luck, health, hope, full, enough, life, nature, quietness, relaxation, safety, youth…
    Blue stand for calmness, authority, coolness, clean, fresh, confidence, depth, water, faith, freedom, harmony, ice, intelligent, cold, peace, logic, authority, security, self-control, technology, transparency…

  15. Red: romantic, strong.
    Yellow: dazzling, sick, feeble.
    Blue: peaceful, deep.
    Purple: charming, sad.
    Green: natural.
    Pink: lovable.
    Black: strong.
    Each colors have different meaning, different specific characteristics or different beauty. And color meaning change from culture to culture, it based on the conception of each countries. For example, Vietnamese flag is red and yellow and American flag is white, red and blue. Colors can also use to represent different emotions in different ways. For example, we can express the emotion, it’s based on the bright color or the dark color. You can use pink for youthful or purple for sadness…choose the color which is suitable for the information you want to express.

  16. Yellow has been a royal colour in China and represents the arrival of spring and Easter. Yellow is used to draw people’s attention, usually warning them for example, traffic lights turn from green to yellow before it turns to red. Yellow also symbolize illness, cowardice, active, cheery, extrovert, young, warm, intelligent, imaginative, envious, dangerous, resented, deceived, etc…
    Red is considered the “color of colors”. It represents beauty, joyful, speed, action, warning, anger, passionate, patriotic, powerful, successful, impatient, offensive, violent aggressiveness and blood. Red is also used to attract attention.

    Colour can be used to symbolize different emotions as they represent certain characteristics, which suit the different emotions.

  17. _ Red means blood, lucky, dangerous…
    _ Yellow means bright, creative, peaceful…
    Evey colors have a different meanings. They are all represent for people’s characters.
    There are different meanings for different colours in different culture. For example, in America, people think that Black is represent for the death, for unlucky things. And in China, people think that Red is represent for lucky, for happy.
    Colors can be used to represent different emotions in many different ways. For example, with Red, we can express plenty of feelings such as: blood, dangerous, romantic…

  18. Red means Love, Honesty, Faith and Death.
    Yellow means Sun, Happiness, Believe and Justice.

    Colors have lots and lots of different meaning according to difference country and difference location all over the world. Just like Red, for the Cherokee people they think red is a symbol of death, of sacrifice and blood. But for the Asian, red is a symbol of warm, happiness and life.

    Since long time ago, Colors had been used to express the emotion instead of using words in many texts and Pictures. But we must know the native and the location where that pictures came from to understand what’s that color represent.

  19. What do they mean? What meaning is attributed to other colors? How does the symbolism of color change from culture to culture, according to these sites?
    I take the colors Blue and Green
    Blue: sky, calm, ocean and symbolize of peace, escape and dream…
    Green: forest, healthy, strong, active, victory and defeat…
    Blue is attributed to other colors as red, white and gray: Stability, Power, Trustworthiness, and Conservatism
    Green is attributed to other colors as Yellow, Brown, and Orange: Nature, earthiness, warmth
    The symbol of green changed from culture to culture. In the western culture, green is representing to the ecology and environments. Green also means to go ahead which appeared on many traffic lights. The most popular is a symbol for holiday and season of the year so many people really like green color. But in the White Mountain Apaches, Green means the South God and Green are sacred. In the Medicine Wheel, Green is passion, heart, warmth, emotions, and porcupine. In Asia, green is eternity, family, harmony, health, peace, posterity.
    The symbol of blue changed between different cultures and situations. In the Western Culture, blue known as the American flag and patriotism of the citizens, ocean, depth, education. In the different attitude- Native American, blue represented north which mean cold, defeat and trouble. In Navajo, blue means Mount Taylor- the Sacred Mountain of the West near Flagstaff, Arizona. In Asian Culture, Blue is a symbol of self-cultivation, wealth.
    Therefore, many colors in different situations and attitude and cultures have many different meanings and functions. So you used it carefully and comfortable which the situation that you are in.

  20. - Colors have different meanings in different culter. Red most represents for death and dangerous. Yellow most represents for happiness, allowable… Black, dark colors represents for stylist, evil…
    – Colors can be used to show emotions, different characters. It depends on which culter.

  21. Red:hot,angry,happiness,blood,…
    Yellow: cheerful,warm,happy,sun,…
    Pink:romantic,rose,love…
    Green:Eternity, family, harmony, health,verdant,…
    White:Truth,purity, peace, patience, healing, protecting from danger,…
    Blue:cool,water,calm,…
    Colors have some different meanings and it may differ in cultures and places(eg:Red is the color of happiness and prosperity in China .In most Western countries white is the color for brides, but in the East, it’s the color for mourning and funerals)

  22. red – happy, emotion and love
    yellow- happy, powerful and faithful
    orange-powerful, indulgent and inventive
    green-natural, hopeful and save
    blue-confident, smart and faithful
    purple- noble, squander and inventive
    white- perfect, hopeful and successful
    black-elegant, death and mysterious
    There are different meaning to different colors in different culture
    The color can be used to represent different emotions in many different ways. If I am happy, my color will be pink or red. The color is expressed the people’s feeling and people’s character

  23. We can see colours around us everyday, and colours also have the meaning.
    Black: mysterious, luxurious
    Red: power, lucky, loyalty, hot, angry, speed
    Pink: Love, Dreaming
    Green: natural, freshness
    Colours are now used very popular in the normal life, people use colours in drawing, painting, writing. A flat of each country used colour to show their tradition, The Vietnamese flat used Red and Yellow, Red is Blood and powerful, yellow is our skin’s colour. So using colour is very useful in description and appraisement.

  24. Red represents the energy, power, anger, fire, beauty, hardness, danger and also blood. It leaves a great impression on the other people’s sight.
    Yellow mostly represents the wealthiness, royalty, power such as the king or dragon; however it also represents the peace, creativity, brightness, luck, happiness, and cheerfulness.
    In some cultures, different colors have different meanings. In Western culture, red is passion, love, romance and energy, it brings a good feel but maybe in the other culture, red represents blood or sorrow. The meaning of colors based on the culture of each country, history, people and circumstances.

  25. Colours are meaningful and it has a big impact on feelings and behaviour. Different colours will have a wide variety of meanings.
    Red and Yellow, they are interpret as warm colour. but each of them always have a different meaning.
    -Red represents for lucky, blood , fire and love.
    -Yellow represents for gold, happiness and it carry a promise of a positive future.
    In different culture the colour will have a different meaning. for example: in the Middle East, blue is believed to be a protective colour. And In Iran, blue represents heaven and immortality.
    What is the representation of colours in your mind?

  26. In Japan, red means passion and liveliness because we associate fire and blood from red.
    Yellow means “Be careful.” I think it is common in the world, because yellow of traffic light means “Be careful” and when we play soccer, we use Yellow Card, this card means “Be careful.”

  27. _Red means love, sensuality and desire,joyful ,success, sometimes it presents for speed, action, red also can be easily attracted for a far distance.Yellow means love, the color of the light , against evil, success,energy improve memory.
    Blue :calm , serenity,peace and dream
    Orange : learning kinship
    Green: nature, living deliberately , Eternity, family, harmony, health, peace, posterity
    Purple: knowledge, wealth
    Black : darkness, harmony, evil influences, knowledge, self-cultivation
    White: Children, helpful,pure, peace
    Pink : working,happy, marriage
    _In every cultures, the color will represent for a different meaning.For example: purple in native american color symbolism means wisdom ,but in asian color symbolism means wealth.
    _Each color will give you a different emotions but in some situations,the color will give another different emotions.Red will give the emotions of angry,love, danger.Yellow is joyful.

  28. Red is the colour of the active, brave, brilliant, demanding……..
    Orange is ter color of changing cheerful, active…..
    Yellow is the color of clear, cheery, bright, alert……
    Green is the colour of clean, comfortable, dependable, free……..
    Blue is the color of accepting, balanced, caring, clean, cold……..
    Purple is the color of ambitious, artstic, anxious, quiet…….

    All of the colour has their own meanings and the meanings could change by the culture. For example, yellow in Hindus and christians are Truth. In Egypt is happiness, prosperity. In China it means imperial color oto worship to sky. But, In Soccer it means warning.

  29. What do they mean? What meaning is attributed to other colours? How does the symbolism of colour change from culture to culture, according to these sites? After you have explored these sites explain how colour can be used to represent different emotions.
    Red: Happiness, marriage, prosperity
    Yellow: Against evil, for the dead, geomantic blessings

    Pink: Marriage
    Green: Eternity, family, harmony, health, peace, posterity
    Blue: Self-cultivation, wealth
    Purple: Wealth
    White: Children, helpful people, marriage,
    mourning, peace, purity, travel
    Gold: Strength, wealth
    Gray: Helpful people, travel
    Black: Career, evil influences, knowledge, mourning, penance, self-cultivation

    Asian’s symbolism of the color and Western symbolism of the color is different. Red is unlucky in Asia but in western is not.

  30. Red: lives(blood colour), love, fire, rebel, hot, passion
    Orange: energy, flavour, exciting
    Yellow: energy, bright, warning, exciting, sunlight
    Green: nature, peace, calm, sleepiness, tree
    Blue: water, clean, peace, calm, cold, deep
    Purple: tragedy, solitary, royal, calm, misery

    Red means the stability, power, trust, and conservatism in western (European) countries, while in the eastern (Asian) countries red represents happiness, marriage, and prosperity.
    Yellow was used as the representative colour for the emperors in China. It also represents the harvest and sanctity in eastern countries. Yellow means east for Native Americans as the sun rises in the east.

    The meanings of each colour are different with each other in every culture but, they all grant significant meanings to those colours. The colours have constantly utilized to express their feelings or emphasized the effects of certain things. In ancient time, people used several colours for ritual ceremonies. They used certain colours to prevent misfortunes and be lucky. However, in these days, the usage of colours became a bit different. For example, the effective utilization of colours is used in lots of visual literacy including ads, and movies.

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