Wednesday, January 20, 2016


Colors have distinctive meanings and symbolism in different countries around the world. One color may mean "purity" in one country, but may have an opposite connotation somewhere else. The red colored Torii gates of this Shinto temple in Japan has spiritual and auspicious meaning.  Come along as we explore colors in different cultures.

In China the color red means good luck & celebration, often used in festive occasions. In India it means purity, fertility, love & beauty. In the West we see the color red as having energy, excitement, love & passion. In Indonesia the color red in their national flag means courage & sacrifice.

Pink in the Western world symbolizes caring, nurturing,  and femininity. It is often used in weddings in India. In psychology it is used in diet therapy and as an appetite suppressant, relaxing the muscles.

Orange often has religious connotations in Hinduism & Buddhism. The color is auspicious & sacred in Southeast Asia & India. . In Ireland the color orange symbolizes the Protestants. In psychology orange is an energizing color & can stimulate the appetite. The Wesco Fabric above is pattern "Scroll Work, color Henna.

Yellow in the West means happiness, joy, & hope. In India it is sacred. In Thailand it represents Buddhism & is a royal color. In France it can mean jealousy. To those of the Jewish faith yellow can be negative with memories of the yellow star worn during the Nazi regime in Germany. The yellow at this temple in Bali is used to ward off evil.

The color gold signifies wealth & strength in both the Eastern & Western world. In countries practicing Theravada Buddhism (Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, & Laos) gold leaf is applied to Buddhist statues as an honorary tribute of faith.

Designer Hutton Wilkinson beautifully used green on the walls and chairs for this apartment in Manhattan. In the Western world it symbolizes wealth, luck, nature, & rebirth. In China it means new life & regeneration. In the Middle East it is the color of Islam. In Ireland it symbolizes the Catholics.

Blue is probably the safest color to use around the world. In the West we see it meaning trust, authority, peace & calm. In China it symbolizes immortality. In Mexico it can be both a color of mourning and serenity. In psychology it is calming and can lower blood pressure. In the Middle East it is connected to religion and is often linked to heaven & the soul.

Purple is a favorite of yours truly! In Japan it can mean privilege & wealth. In the Western world it means royalty, spirituality, & positions of authority, but in India it can mean sorrow.

White has many diverse meanings. We see it at weddings and when we think of angels. We see it at hospitals and on doctors. It can mean peace as in a "white dove." In India it can mean unhappiness & sorrow. In China we see it symbolizing death & mourning. In Japan a white carnation symbolizes death. In Indonesia we see the color white worn at cremation ceremonies. In Thailand it can mean purity.

When visiting Bali one often sees the black & white checked "Poleng" cloth on clothing, on buildings, and even on trees. It symbolizes a mutual dualism of good & evil, day & night, and is similar to Yin & Yang. Black in the West means power, control & intimidation. We see it at funerals & in mourning. In Japan Buddhist monks wear black. In Thailand it can mean unhappiness & bad luck.

The symbology of color has many connotations throughout the world and is very important in product development and packaging. Using the "wrong" color can absolutely kill a product,...but using an auspicious hue can have positive results!

Photo credits: Dick Gentry, Veranda, Wesco Fabrics.

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